Nahant sets its sights on housing sites

The Housing Advisory Sub-Committee's map of potential sites to develop affordable housing over the next five years in Nahant. (Town of Nahant)

NAHANT — In an attempt to maintain compliance with the Commonwealth’s Chapter 40B guidelines, the Housing Advisory Sub-Committee discussed priority sites for affordable-housing development to be outlined in the town’s five-year Housing Production Plan.

In order to comply with Section 40B — a state law requiring cities and towns to reserve roughly 10% of their housing stock for affordable housing — Nahant is working to map the production of 84 affordable-housing units.

At a meeting Thursday evening, the sub-committee identified five priority sites for affordable-housing development: a portion of land at the Nahant Country Club Estate, an expansion of the Spindrift Building on Nahant Road through the creation of a 3-acre lot of land on the adjacent Greystone Road, the wetlands beside Ward Road, an area behind the Housing Authority building near Spring Road, and the town’s Coast Guard housing neighborhood.

After Sub-Committee Vice Chair Michael Rauworth suggested the committee include detailed plans on how each site could reasonably be developed in the Housing Production Plan, Planning Board member Patrick O’Reilly expressed concern with the town’s ability to develop the Ward Road lot.

“The state doesn’t want any towns developing designated multi-family zones on wetlands,” O’Reilly said.

Board of Selectmen Chair Mark Cullinan said there is a wide range of 40B-compliant affordable-housing types the town could potentially develop.

“There are all sorts of possibilities that can happen whether it’s a 40B, whether it’s an assisted-living facility, whether it’s subsidized housing, whether it’s a rental, or for ownership. I mean, there are all sorts of development entities that could come in here. I think that at this point, it’s our scope. I think identifying opportunity sites is as far as we can go at this point,” Cullinan said.

Sub-Committee Chair Michelle Capano said she reached out to Nahant Housing Authority members to determine how the land at Ward Road could be put to use in compliance with state laws. In an interview last week, Capano said that a development there can not yet be ruled out.

“There’s four house spots over there. I know it’s in wetlands, but you could still do development and pilings over there,” Capano said. “There’s plenty of houses over in that location on pilings.”

Sub-Committee member James Walsh also suggested adding a bylaw allowing the town to give preferential treatment to Nahant residents or employees who wish to live in 40B housing, an idea that the sub-committee will discuss with the Planning Board at the board’s Sept. 5 meeting.

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