July 09, 2013

Housing meeting at 4 today

Very tight schedule today with Summer Camp and swim lessons.   I was there at 4 to find out the first of two items on the agenda was a TIF for the Telegram Building.    By 4:30 with the discussions still on the TIF, I had to leave.    I was able to get to a TV by 5:15 and catch the 2nd item on the agenda--RKG Housing Study.  You can watch it here.
  • Housing Report starts at 28 minutes
  • Public comments starts at 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Paul's hat at 1 hour and 26 minutes 
  • Ex Red Sox star Dwight Evans (Dave Zimage) at 1 hour and 52 minutes
Let me focus on some comments by the Executive Director of the Main South CDC starting at 1 hour and 44 minutes and 50 seconds, that I found interesting.
  • He is right we do not have any 40B projects.   A developer uses this (40B) as a tool in towns to circumvent local zoning when the underlying town/city is under 10% minimum.   In Worcester we are over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of 10% minimum threshold, thus a developer can not try to invoke 40B.   A developer of affordable units in Worcester can not utilize the 40B tool.  He is correct, but a developer of affordable units has never had to worry about local zoning stopping them so there has never been a need to invoke project 40B status.
  • "We need to keep rents down because a large proportion of our population qualify for affordable housing.  If we keep the rents down, they will have more disposable income to generate a vibrant economy."  Who says Main South CDC keeps rents down?    Maybe we should attract more market rate tenants to Worcester who have disposable income to create a vibrant economy.    A rising tide lifts all boats.  Let's actually follow the RKG recommendation, the reason for the meeting, to partner with other local jurisdictions in the region to advocate for a more equitable distribution of affordable housing opportunities in Worcester County. 
My favorite was Joy Hart at 1 hour and 53 minutes plus, she is against housing.

Bottom line is this RKG has hit it out of the park again and the majority of the comments were dead on.   You don't have to read it twice like Paul, but once would be a good idea.    The sad thing is they have done this once before in Worcester about ten years ago and were 100 percent correct then but we did not follow their recommendations.  Let's hope we get it right this time.

Lastly there were many mentions of the Philly Plan!!!    It was also great to see a representative from the Worcester Realtors Association showing their support for the RKG study.  As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I plan on asking them to weigh in on this for the next meeting.

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