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There’s been a lot of discussion – as well as a lot of speculation — about what might happen to Northland in the event that “no” prevails on March 3.

Just yesterday at an event sponsored by Right Size Newton, zoning attorney Dennis Murphy, who was introduced as a 40B specialist, said that the project must legally proceed as a single parcel of land, even though legally the 22.7 acre project comprises three separate parcels (go to the 2:23 mark of this video to see Murphy’s explanation.)

But it appears that the city’s law department disagrees with Attorney Murphy.

Check out page 5 of this memo from the Planning Department:

In the event the City Council’s rezoning of the Northland project is repealed by a referendum, the Northland developer may consider one or more 40B projects at the same site. The Northland site is currently made up of three separate parcels. The developer could ultimately choose to pursue multiple 40B projects, as each parcel could contain a separate 40B project. The developer could also subdivide into additional parcels by right as long as each parcel meets the frontage and lot area requirements in the City’s zoning ordinance.

Murphy also said there would be a “one year cooling off period” before Northland could propose a 40B.

 Also, not true according to the same memo:

There would be no cooling off or waiting period before the developer could pursue a 40B project. There is also nothing that prevents the developer from pursuing multiple individual 40B projects on separate parcels at the same time. 

And that same memo continues:

While it is impossible to predict the details of any potential 40B projects, one or more initial 40B projects at the Northland site could each contain 646 units located on separate portions of the 22-acre site.

So – all speculation aside – the answer is Northland’s project could swell from 800 units as currently approved to 1,938 units under 40B.

But would Northland go that route?   Only Northland knows that for certain. Here’s what Northland CEO Larry Gottediener in his open letter in the TAB from last week: 

“If NO wins, the City Council’s 17-7 approval will be overturned and the project as envisioned will not proceed. Having fully exhausted the City Council’s Land Use permitting process, Northland will then have the option to apply directly to the State for alternative permitting under an affordable housing statute known as Chapter 40B. IN that event, the most likely outcome will be three non-integrated 40B developments that total 1,500+ new apartments…The State’s 40B approval process overrides the City Council’s Land Use process and, as such, will NOT require any of the appealing elements of the Northland project that were negotiated by the City Council.” 

So what the final answer to the question:  How many housing units could Northland build under 40B?

1,938 but only without the millions of dollars in traffic mitigation, open space, parks, school renovation dollars and other benefits. 





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