Watertown Asserts It Has Met Affordable Housing Goals, Can Prevent 40B Projects

Watertown officials believe they have found a seldom used way to meet the state’s affordable housing requirements, which would mean developers could not build high-density residential projects without having to go through the town’s normal zoning rules. The state law made to encourage the creation of affordable housing, often called Chapter 40B or just 40B, requires towns with less than 10 percent of its housing units that are officially designated as affordable units to allow projects with 20 percent or more affordable units to be approved in a streamlined process. Meeting the requirement is known as reaching “safe harbor.” Watertown has not reached the 10 percent threshold. There is, however, a second method to reach safe harbor, which is having 1.5 percent or more of a community’s land devoted to affordable housing.

Developer Eyeing Spot on Major Watertown Intersection for 40B Housing Project

An image from Google Maps showing the proposed site of a 113 unit 40B housing project at the corner of Coolidge Hill Road and Arlington Street. A developer has started the process to build a Chapter 40B residential project on a major intersection in East Watertown. Under the state law to encourage the building of affordable housing, 40B projects do not have to comply with many local zoning rules. The project is proposed for 19 Coolidge Hill Road, on the former E.H. Hinds Atlantic Plant property. The proposal, according to information submitted to the MassHousing Partnership (which oversees 40B projects), would have 113 rental units on the 0.9 acre lot, and would have 28 affordable units.