Zoning Board rules proposal to convert development to rentals will require new hearing

Nov 11, 2021

The developers behind the Settler’s Glen housing development now underway on Red Brook Road in East Wareham will have to undergo another round of public hearings to determine whether or not the 20 condos can be converted from for sale units to units for rent.

The developers initially argued that the change could be considered minor, as the physical plans will remain the same. 

At the Nov. 10 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, the board voted that the change was, in fact, substantial, and would require a new round of hearings. 

Under the original plans, five of the twenty condos would be income-restricted to those earning 80 percent or less of the area median income. The income-restricted units would be priced at $271,500 for a two-bedroom and $301,700 for the three-bedroom unit. Market rate units would likely sell for between $399,000 and $429,000. 

Board Chair Nazih Elkallassi noted that if the units are rentals, that will add the total twenty units towards the town’s affordable housing stock, which would get the town closer to meeting the threshold that would allow the town to exert more control over 40B projects.

Under the original plan, only the five affordable units would be added to the town’s affordable housing stock.

Board member Chris Conti consulted the law, and said that changing the form of housing is listed as an example of a substantial change. Board members Veronica Debonise and Richard Semple agreed.

Board member Jim Eacobacci seemed to think the board had no real power in this situation.

“No matter how we vote, with the right attorney, they’re going to get their way,” Eacobacci said. “So other than making them bleed a little bit, we’re kinda — the best word I can use is screwed.”

He said he did consider it to be a substantial change, and added that he thought the pride of ownership was good for a neighborhood.

Attorney Mark Bobrowski, representing the applicant, said that the increase in units added to the affordable housing stock was to the town’s benefit, and added that the management company would ensure a good neighborhood feel. 

Eacobacchi first moved that the change be considered minor, but no one seconded it. He then moved to treat it as a substantial change and major modification. 

The motion was passed 4-0-1 with Eacobacchi abstaining.