Nantucket Earns “Safe Harbor” From 40B Developments

After demonstrating significant progress in the affordable housing arena, Nantucket has earned another year of so-called “safe harbor,” when it will be exempt from controversial 40B housing developments like Surfside Crossing.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) approved the town’s request for certification of compliance with its Housing Production Plan, granting Nantucket safe harbor through June, 2022. The ruling comes after DHCD validated the island’s municipal Housing Production Plan (HPP) and recognized 25 new subsidized housing units planned for Benjamin Drive and Fairgrounds Road, just above the threshold required for safe harbor.

The island was coming to the end of the current two-year safe harbor period, and the maneuvers completed to secure the approvals necessary to extend safe harbor for another year have been challenging.

“A lot of the moves we’ve made and actions we’ve taken over the course of the past year have been knowing we wanted to land a very big plane on a very short runway,” said Tucker Holland, the town’s municipal housing director. “So we are thrilled that it all came together and our new period commenced on June 11.”

The three units on Benjamin Drive are being built by Habitat for Humanity, will the other 22 units on Fairgrounds Road are a collaboration between the town’s Affordable Housing Trust and the non-profit Housing Nantucket, utilizing the taxpayer dollars approved for affordable housing through the Neighborhood First program.

Those units will qualify to be counted among the town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), a list that is used to measure a community’s stock of low- or moderate-income housing for the purposes of the state 40B law. Cities and towns with less than 10 percent of their housing stock meeting the SHI criteria are subject to 40B affordable housing developments that allow greater density than allowed by zoning if 20 to 25 percent of the units meet the state’s definition of affordable housing. Towns that reach 10 percent of their housing stock meeting the SHI criteria or demonstrate meaningful progress toward it are granted “safe harbor” from 40B developments. Nantucket is still far short of 10 percent, with just 273 units on the SHI list, or just 5.5 percent. The island would need to hit 490 subsidized housing units to reach 10 percent.

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