174-unit affordable housing project public hearing set for Feb. 28

Feb 8, 2018

A proposed 174-unit affordable housing project in East Wareham that sparked controversy will be discussed at a public hearing on Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Service Center.

The project was announced in June by Waltham-based developer Dakota Partners. Plans call for constructing six, three- and four-story buildings along with a community building, open space area and parking. The project is slated for 3102 Cranberry Highway, near the Red Brook Road intersection.

Dubbed Woodland Cove, the development will include 106 apartments that are designated as affordable. Rents for those apartments must not exceed state guidelines based upon a renter's income.

Under Chapter 40B, a state law, zoning regulations are relaxed for developers in towns where less than 10 percent of homes or apartments are considered affordable. In Wareham, 7.7 percent of residences are affordable. Officials estimate that if the project were built it would add roughly 2 percent to the amount of affordable housing in town.

In June, dozens of residents attended a hearing to express concerns about the project, saying it would strain town resources, including police, the fire departments and schools while increasing traffic and crime.

In response, Selectmen sent a letter the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development protesting Woodland Cove.

After that, little was heard from the developers until November when a proposed increase in the project’s size prompted another letter from Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum. He formally called on the developers to restart the review process, saying they failed to notify the board of the change in accordance with state law. The plans called for building a 240-unit at 3104 Cranberry Highway.

In a letter to Stephen Kaminski of Dakota Partners Inc., Teitelbaum cited state law that requires developers to notify the town of major changes to affordable housing plans.

“I have never been notified by you of the significant material changes to your 40B project,” Teitelbaum wrote. “It is clear that in unilaterally seeking significant material changes to your 40B project to [the Department of Housing and Community Development] without formally notifying me, you have not complied either the notice requirements of 760 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 56.03, or the required application elements of 760 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 56.02.”

Teitelbaum said he learned of the changes in a letter from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

According to state law, developers must provide written notice to the town where a project is to be located, initiating a 30-day review period. After that, developers may seek permission from the state to move forward on a project. With the public hearing advertising a 174-unit housing development, the developers are moving forward with their original plans, not the 240-unit development.