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NATICK, MA-This town denied a developer’s appeal for a comprehensive permit to build a 10-story apartment building here in a mall parking lot despite the fact that it has not met its 10% affordable-housing requirement. The developer is appealing to the state Housing Appeals Committee.

Cloverleaf LLC is seeking a permit to develop an apartment building on a parking lot here near the Cloverleaf Mall and the Hampton Inn Motel. According to the decision, the shopping center lot has special permits granted for additional retail space on the site. The developer’s application for a comprehensive permit is based on the fact that the town has not yet reached its 10% requirement of affordable housing. According to Chapter 40B, a developer may appeal to bypass local zoning laws if the town has not met its affordable-housing requirements and if its project has an affordable housing component. Many towns contend that the law is manipulated by developers to get their projects approved. According to the decision, Natick’s affordable housing is 5.24 % of the town’s units.

But in its decision, the town’s zoning board of appeals notes that the town meets another requirement in Chapter 40B–that affordable housing exists on sites compromising at least 1.5% of the total land area zoned for residential commercial or industrial use. According to Yvonne Johnson, of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, “1.7% of our buildable land for residential purposes has low to moderate housing. A Zoning Board can still deny a comprehensive permit even if a town doesn’t meet the 10% affordable housing requirement.”

Johnson tells GlobeSt.com that the board denied the developer’s permit because it felt the building was not in a good location. According to the decision, the town also states that the 183-unit proposed building will impact pedestrian safety, access of emergency vehicles and that the height, bulk and placement of the building is inconsistent with the surrounding structures and sites.

But in its appeal, Cloverleaf insists that its project meets all requirements necessary for a comprehensive permit and states that Natick’s ZBA cannot lawfully deny it a permit on the grounds it is stating. Johnson says that the appeal is going before the state in two weeks. “We’re hoping the state sees that this is not a good proposal,” she notes.

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