Omni Properties of Concord has proposed a 160-unit apartment complex to be built on 7˝ acres of wooded land near Kelleher's Pond in Beverly.
The proposed Village Green Beverly would cost more than $20 million to construct, but would be within walking distance of the Montserrat train station, qualifying it for smart growth district status under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40R.
According to the Commonwealth's website, the Chapter 40R law " ... encourages cities and towns to establish new overlay zoning districts to promote housing production and, more generally, smart growth development," and "provides financial incentives to communities to adopt these new zoning districts."
Essentially, the law allows communities to adopt special zoning districts that are higher density - as in a smaller area than required by local zoning laws - near areas of public transportation, and provides financial reimbursement to cities and towns as incentive.
The city would be eligible for a $200,000 payment from the state, and $3,000 per unit after exceeding the allowable number of units in the area under the current zoning law.
According to David Hale, a partner at Omni, the complex would not include low-income affordable housing, but 20 percent of its units would be reserved for people earning 80 percent of the Boston area median income (moderately affordable housing) in accordance with requirements of Chapter 40R.
The project also would protect a significant portion of the remaining 10˝ acres of land as open space, and Kelleher's Pond would remain open to the public. The buildings will be set back at least 600 feet from the road, and will be mostly screened by trees.
"Our intention is to make sure that the public still can use the pond on the property for skating and for fishing," Hale said. "And the public can still use the open space, 4 acres or so back, where there's currently walking trails ... our objective is to keep that an open space.
"The impact of the project is really quite minimal, but the financial impact on the city is quite positive."
The project is still in its infancy. Omni will hold two presentations in June - one for the Beverly Planning Board on June 4, and one for neighbors on June 6 - and the city will then hold a public hearing on the matter. If city officials choose to apply to the program, the City Council would have to approve the overlay zoning following state approval of the city's application.
"There is a significant process to go through," Hale said.
As with any large-scale construction project, Hale expects opposition.
"As developments go, our sense is that there's not that much opposition to this," Hale said. "But sometimes people are reluctant to say to developers what they'll then later say to city officials, so it would be very unusual to have no opposition."