Selectmen claim state ‘deaf’ to town’s 40B concerns

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Shrewsbury-large-web-iconBy K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer

Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen began its regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 23 with remarks addressing the town’s attempt to attract “friendly 40B” affordable housing developments. Chair James Kane related the board’s experience when it appeared recently before the Massachusetts Housing Commission in Boston.

Shrewsbury officials have spent considerable time and resources attempting to work with the state to develop affordable housing that is not overly large or disruptive, Kane said. However, they have been disappointed over how the selectmen were treated. Kane related that the Massachusetts Housing authorities were unsympathetic to selectmen’s concerns about 40B housing, and that the state’s attitude was “tough,” meaning that 40B proposals are likely to be approved even over a town’s objection.

“We are being left to our own devices,” said Town Manager Daniel Morgado.

According to the board, the state seemed unconcerned about such issues as housing density, design, building height, traffic or the number of 40Bs being considered for a town with less than 10 percent affordable housing. Both Kane and Morgado noted that no one appeared to have over all charge of the 40B process, with each state department and commission making its own decisions.

Selectman Maurice DePalo said that the entire 40B process is “very unfair and very disappointing,” with the state basically ignoring town concerns even after the town has tried to be proactive in the process.

“The state isn’t even listening to the towns,” Kane noted.