Monday, 9:58 AM
State SJC ruling removes barrier to affordable-housing projects
Massachusetts' highest court has ruled that affordable-housing projects can't be halted on the grounds that they might lower the value of adjacent residential property.
The Supreme Judicial Court, in a decision issued Friday, rejected arguments by opponents of a planned Andover apartment building who said its construction would negatively affect their property values. The decision removed a key barrier for developers of affordable-housing projects, particularly in the suburbs, where such development often faces strong opposition.
Boston real estate attorney Richard Vetstein said the court's ruling was significant "because it's been a long time since the SJC has issued an opinion as comprehensive as this" on an affordable-housing project. He said it "levels the playing field for developers" and makes it more difficult for abutters to challenge such projects.
Under the state's 40B law to promote affordable housing, a developer may override most local zoning provisions in a city or town if the municipality does not meet the state's 10 percent minimum requirement for affordable-housing stock and a certain percentage of the units in the proposed development are priced to meet the definition of "affordable" in that particular community.
In the Andover case, a developer in 2002 proposed a four-story building in which 25 percent of the units would be classified as affordable. The site is near a neighborhood of single-family homes whose owners said their investments would be harmed if the project was allowed to go forward.
(By Kimberly Blanton, Globe staff)