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2 Danvers selectmen want state to count mobile homes as affordable housing

Posted by Justin Rice  November 29, 2011 10:22 PM

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Two Danvers Selectmen will formally make their case that the state should allow the town to count its mobile homes as affordable housing during Tuesday’s Board of Selectman’s meeting.

Under the state law Chapter 40B, residential developers can bypass local zoning if their projects include a minimum required number of affordable units and less than 10 percent of the community’s overall housing is affordable.

Housing data generated from the 2010 federal census recently put Danvers one percent shy of that 10 percent threshold.

While the state currently only counts homes with restricted deeds toward the 10 percent threshold, Selectmen Gardner Trask and Dan Bennett say the town would well exceed that mark if mobile homes were counted as affordable housing.

Trask said there are slightly more than 200 mobile homes in Danvers.

“The reality is in New England that these mobile home parks, once a home is situated, it’s situated there for long time,” Trask said during a phone interview yesterday. “These have been full-time homes for decades. Why can’t they count toward 40B?

“The majority of people that own mobile homes fall within affordable housing guidelines.”

Trask said being under the 10 percent threshold means that developers could develop buildings in Danvers that are too “expansive” compared to their neighboring buildings.

“They can build on the property line, they could build a four story building or they could build four times the density [of the neighborhood],” he said.

In May, the town of Salisbury passed a Home Rule Petition to the state Legislature to amend the definition of low or moderate housing to include mobile homes in Salisbury that have been in the same spot for at least 20 years.

“So Danvers wants to look into the same thing,” Trask said. “[On Tuesday] I will propose to the selectmen that we follow the lead of Salisbury.’

Trask said the selectmen could choose to send a letter of support for Salisbury to Beacon Hill, ask Salisbury to amend their petition to include Danvers or try to pass a Home Rule petition of their own at the Town Meeting this spring.

“So we have several options,” Trask said. “I’m just going to appear in front of the selectmen and see what ones they want to go after. They could go for zero, one of them or all of them.”

The Board of Selectmen meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Town Hall.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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