Southborough – Preliminary approval has been granted by MassHousing for a pair of major Chapter 40B projects proposed for town, as well as for a smaller-scale development.
Trammell Crow and AvalonBay have designed plans to construct 200-unit apartment complexes on Route 9 near Interstate 495.
Both projects will need the approval of Southborough's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) before they can proceed, but MassHousing must grant site approval stating that a project is viable before the ZBA appeal process can begin.
A third proposed 40B project, a 44-unit development on Woodland Road to be called Woodland Meadows, also received primary approval from MassHousing.
"A determination has to be made that the application to construct a Chapter 40B project has proper legal interest on the land – that the developer either owns it or has permission to build on it," MassHousing representative Tom Farmer said. "We also have to investigate the project to make sure it is financially feasible, too."
Farmer said when a project involves rental properties, another phase of the review process is required.
"We have to determine that the rents will support the complex," Farmer said, "as well as make sure that the company has the financial wherewithal to see the project through to completion, even if unexpected changes or delays occur."
The completion of either the Trammell Crow or AvalonBay projects would vault Southborough over the 10 percent Chapter 40B aff ordable housing threshold the town is required to be at in 2010.
Getting above that 10 percent threshold would give the town flexibility regarding accepting Chapter 40B proposals. Until a town has aff ordable housing of 10 percent or more, proposed projects introduced under Chapter 40B guidelines cannot be summarily denied.
Michael Roberts, Avalon- Bay's vice president of development, said his company has begun to work on a comprehensive permit with Southborough's Zoning Board of Appeals, but was quick to point out that it's a time-consuming process.
"The MassHousing letter serves as the formal start of the permitting process," Roberts said. "From there you move into the scheduling, studying and submitting processes. That's where we're at on this project."