Newsletter #6: September 3, 2019
Concerned Citizens Unite to Raise $12,000 for DIRC
Fundraiser Success Keeps Key Experts On Board for Next Steps
Defend Ipswich River Communities' (DIRC) fundraiser on Tuesday evening at the Horseshoe exceeded all expectations due to generous support from attendees and donors. More than 300 concerned citizens from North Reading, Reading, Middleton, Lynnfield, Peabody, and Topsfield helped push the fundraising total to more than $12,000, bring DIRC's total funds raised to over $30,000. Thanks to all who enjoyed dinner, generously bid on silent auction items, and purchased raffles. DIRC has delivered prizes to all winners.

DIRC will use these funds to keep its expert 40B attorney working to oppose the proposed 20 Elm Street project. In his first appearance before the North Reading Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 8, Attorney Dan Hill’s diligence paid off, suggesting that the town needed to account for group homes and other potentially eligible properties in its calculation of the percentage of affordable units counted toward Safe Harbor. Information later obtained from the state showed that the town’s General Land Area Minimum (GLAM) calculated at 1.56%, above the 1.5% needed for a Safe Harbor declaration. The newly identified units also appear to put the town just above the 10% threshold Safe Harbor threshold in its count of affordable units. The developer may enter an appeal and the data will undergo an extensive review process by the state.

The fundraiser’s success will help DIRC follow this process to assure that the town’s affordable count is comprehensive and to provide continued information aimed at stopping the project. DIRC thanks all citizens who supported this effort by purchasing dinner tickets, donating directly, bidding on silent auction prizes and raffles. In addition, DIRC extends appreciation to all those who generously donated prizes, the band, Lunatic Neighbor, whose members donated their time to help us protect the Ipswich River Watershed, and to Horseshoe Grille Owner Pat Lee and his entire staff for their support and generosity.
Question of the Week
I heard the ZBA invoked "Safe Harbor"? What does that mean?
When a Massachusetts town faces a project proposal under Chapter 40B, it does not have to accept the project if the town meets one of two specific criteria. The first measurement is that 10% of housing stock is classified as affordable. That is calculated by dividing the number of affordable units by the total number of housing units in a town. The second measurement is that 1.5% of land area is devoted to affordable housing, known as the general land area minimum or GLAM.

If the town meets either of these criteria, it can declare "Safe Harbor," meaning it can deny the project. Last week, the town received additional information from the state regarding group homes in North Reading. When the units and land area for these homes, plus additional rent-controlled mobile home units, are added to the towns calculations, the town appears to meet both the 10% and 1.5% requirements.

As a result, the North Reading ZBA declared Safe Harbor in its meeting on Aug. 22. The developer has 15 days to appeal this decision, and the state has 30 days to review that appeal. It still will be a long road to approval or denial of this project, but it is a strong indicator that the town may not have to take the 20 Elm project at all.
Watch the North Reading ZBA invoke Safe Harbor against the 20 Elm project at its Aug. 22 meeting.
At the ZBA public hearing on Aug. 8, DIRC Attorney Dan Hill suggested that group homes and other units might be undercounted and urged the town to conduct a more detailed review, starting the ball rolling toward the Safe Harbor declaration.
New Shipment of Lawn Signs Ready Now!
DIRC's third shipment of lawn signs is now in and ready to go! These high-impact signs are key to catch the interest of residents of others towns along the Ipswich River who may not yet be familiar with the details and risks of this project. If you live on high traffic locations, especially Marblehead, North, Park, Chestnut, Winter or Haverhill streets, please consider hosting a sign. If you have friends or relatives in busy locations in Middleton, Lynnfield, or West Peabody, please ask them if they'd host a sign. Signs are $20 to cover costs. Residents who wish to have a sign but are unable to pay for one can request a sponsored signed. Please click below.