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BOSTON-After vetoing the legislature’s Omnibus Housing bill this past summer, which included proposed amendments to the state’s affordable housing law–known as Chapter 40B–Governor Jane Swift has proposed a number of regulatory changes to the law.

The governor’s office says the changes will “help to balance the need of increased affordable housing production for low- and moderate-income families in Massachusetts, while also protecting communities from the strain of rapid housing growth.” The law, which enables developers of affordable housing projects to bypass local zoning law if the town does not have 10% affordable housing stock, was originally created over thirty years ago to encourage the development of affordable housing throughout the state rather than have the units concentrated in urban areas. But the law has come under fire in recent years from towns that claim that developers are using it to force towns to approve their projects.

Swift’s office says that the changes are an attempt to “eliminate 40B development conflicts, and will recognize community planning and progress towards compliance with the law.” One of the main changes, which parallels a component of the vetoed bill, would provide incentives for communities that plan for future housing development by allowing them to take one year off from granting comprehensive permits to 40B projects. To be eligible, a community must create a plan certified by the department of housing and community development and produce units which are eligible for the state’s subsidized housing inventory at a rate of at least 75 % of its total housing units in a calendar year. A community may deny permits for a two-year period if it annually produces eligible affordable units of 1.5% of its housing total.

The other main change addresses concerns associated with 40B developments funded by the Federal Home Loan Bank’s New England Fund. The new regulation would require a public entity authorized by the department of housing and community development to determine project eligibility, issue site approval letters, and provide greater oversight of developments subsidized through the NEF. Swift’s office anticipates that this change would “ensure that proposed developments are site appropriate, and that proper monitoring is in place to guarantee long-term affordability.”

A spokesperson for Swift tells GlobeSt.com that the regulatory changes have to go through a public hearing process which will take place on Oct. 21. The emergency regulations to Chapter 40B that Swift issued this past summer will also be finalized then.

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