DRACUT, MA-First Development Co. is hoping it can develop a 47-acre parcel on Broadway Road into a 318-unit residential complex. The developer has not officially filed its plans with the town, but Glen Edwards, Dracut’s town planner tells GlobeSt.com that First Development has indicated that it intends to do just that.

Edwards says that the company plans to file the proposal under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law. The law enables developers to bypass local zoning laws if its project has at least 25% affordable housing and the town does not have 10% of its housing affordable. The Broadway parcel is currently industrially zoned and would need rezoning approval before First Development can build.

Municipalities have long decried the way some developers use Chapter 40B to force them to accept their projects. Dracut currently only has 5% of its housing affordable, but Edwards notes that because the town has a housing productivity plan in which the town plans to increase its affordable units by 1.5% it has more leverage in dealing with a 40B project. Edwards says the state gives a town a two-year break, while the affordable housing it has planned is being constructed.

Still, Edwards points out that the town is open to hearing about First Development’s proposal. “”If it’s good for the town, we’ll support it,” he says.

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