LINCOLN, MA-This town is eyeing a number of parcels of land here near the Minute Man National Historic Park as a possible site to develop affordable housing. The town’s percentage of affordable housing has recently slipped below 10%, which makes the area vulnerable to developers with comprehensive permits.

The land is owned by the state highway department and according to Debra Parkhurst of the town’s planning department, “surplus state land used to be cheap.” It is still unclear what the state would charge for the parcels. Parkhurst tells that the town would like to develop affordable housing reasons on the site for idealistic reasons. At one time, she says, “we were above the 10% mark.”

While she acknowledges that 40B projects–in which a developer can bypass local zoning laws if a town has less than 10% affordable housing and the developer’s project has at least 25% affordable housing–are a sensitive issue for the town, she insists that Lincoln doesn’t feel as threatened by 40B projects as some other towns because property is so costly here. “Developers can just go someplace else and get more for their dollar,” she notes.

But a member of the town’s housing commission tells that the town would like to avoid a situation in which it has to deal with non-cooperative developers. When the town’s affordable housing supply is below 10%, the potential for that situation is there, he notes.

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