The following describes the Sudbury Housing Production Plan process with respect to certification of the Town under MGL Chapter 40B.
A Housing Production Plan (‘HPP’) is a tool that enables the Town to have more control over 40B developments through a three step process. The premise of this process is to encourage municipalities to do their long term housing planning, while at the same time making progress towards the requisite 10% affordable housing unit goal. A municipality cannot be certified without completing all 3 steps. When a municipality has a certified Housing Production Plan, comprehensive permit applications submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) will be deemed “consistent with local needs” under MGL Chapter 40B. Said another way, if Sudbury had a certified plan, and created 28 units of affordable housing in one year, or 56 units in two-years, Sudbury would have reached the thresholds and any subsequent 40B projects could be denied for up to one or two years after that.
In June of 2010, the Board of Selectmen endorsed the creation of a Housing Production Plan in accordance with the State requirements since, for the first time ever, the 40B projects under discussion at that time had the potential to create the required number of units for certification.
The three steps to achieve a certified HPP are:
Step 1: Write the plan and have it approved.
The plan must be written to the state requirements – promulgated at 760 CMR 56.03(4). The completed HPP is submitted to the Department of Housing and Community Development (‘DHCD’) for consideration of approval.
With several private 40B applications on the horizon, there was – for the first time ever – the potential to produce the required number of units in either 1 or 2 years to certifiy a housing production plan.
Sudbury submitted its HPP to DHCD on May 17, 2011, and DHCD approved the HPP on July 14, 2011. This is the link to the Sudbury Housing Production Plan.
Step 2: Have the HPP Certified.
A community will be certified in compliance with an approved HPP if, during a single calendar year, it has increased its number of low- and moderate-income year round housing units (as counted on the Subsidized Housing Inventory) in an amount equal to or greater than that enumerated in the approved HPP (0.5% for one year certification or 1.0% for a two-year certification).
For Sudbury, this equates to 28 units for a one year certification, or 56 affordable units for a two year certification. 40B units can be created in a number of ways, but the approval of a 40B application by the ZBA and the subsequent filing of the decision with the Town Clerk is one way.
Since Sudbury had an approved HPP, it needed to create the required number of housing units in order to have it certified. Only a certified plan can be used as a 'safe harbor' for 40B.
The Coolidge at Sudbury project created 64 units of housing through the issued comprehensive permit, filed with the Town Clerk on August 9, 2011. DHCD certified the HPP as of that date (August 9, 2011) for a period of two years (through August 8, 2013), provided a building permit is issued for the 64 units within one year of the approval of the comprehensive permit, or another 40B application is approved for no less than 1.0% of the town’s housing units.
Step 3: Safe Harbor – The next 40B project can be denied for one or two years.
Once steps 1 and 2 above are completed and approved by DHCD, any Comprehensive Permit application submitted to the ZBA within the certification period (from August 9, 2011 until August 8, 2013) can be denied as “consistent with local needs” under MGL Chapter 40B. The ZBA application for Johnson Farm was submitted on August 8, 2011. DHCD confirmed that the “safe harbor” provided by the HPP certification did not start until August 9, 2011.
If the Johnson Farm application is approved prior to August 8, 2012, the Town will again be in a “safe harbor” and can deny any future Comprehensive Permit applications for another 1-2 years (again depending on when a building permit is issued for either the Coolidge Project or the Johnson Farm project).