Starter home proposal in the works

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The same group that partnered with the MMA to develop the Chapter 40R “smart growth” zoning program has been developing a similar incentive program aimed to develop much-needed single-family “starter homes.”

The Commonwealth Housing Task Force says the new initiative – the Starter Home Development Program – would be a local option for cities and towns and would provide substantial long-term financial incentives for the development of affordable housing.

The task force has developed the program in response to a lack of single-family home-ownership units proposed in many 40R developments thus far. The plan is currently in draft form.

The financial assistance to cities and towns would resemble those for Chapter 40R. The plan calls for an unrestricted state payment of $5,000 for every new unit upon the issuance of a building permit and annual reimbursement of the full cost for educating children residing in these developments. The community would also receive priority status for capital funds, new school construction funding, and open space acquisition and preservation funds.

Eligible projects must allow higher densities with units of no more than 1,700 square feet in size and a minimum of three bedrooms. At least 20 percent of the units must be affordable to families earning between 130 percent and 150 percent of area median income.

Cities and towns would be allowed to adopt design standards to govern the physical appearance of the starter home development. Participating municipalities would have the option to exempt such developments from local rules that exceed requirements of Title 5 of the state Environmental Code or State Wetlands Regulations.

The MMA will work with the Task Force in the development of the Starter Home Development Program.

Written by Administrator