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Posted on: July 26, 2022

State Issues Conditional Letter of Eligibility for East End Smart Growth Overlay District

Photo of SGOD map

Amesbury – The Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) has issued Amesbury a preliminary determination of eligibility for the proposed ordinance to establish a second 40R District, the East End Smart Growth Overlay District (EESGOD).  After preliminary State approval, at least two-thirds of the City Council must vote to approve the zoning. It must then receive final approval by the State. If adopted by City Council and the Planning Board, Amesbury would be eligible for a corresponding Letter of Conditional Approval.

Undersecretary Jennifer D. Maddox, Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) stated the following in her letter, “In the area of the intersection of Macy Street (Route 110) with both Clarks Road and Elm Street, just to the west of the adjacent section of I-95, the proposed EESGOD contains just over thirty-seven (37) acres in total of which approximately twelve (12) acres would be considered Developable Land for the purposes of the applicable minimal densities that must be allowed as of right pursuant to the statute and regulations. Based on this net acreage of Developable Land and the as-of-right densities associated with the respective sub-districts proposed, the District would allow an estimated 233 Future Zoned Units of which an estimated minimum of 172 would conditionally qualify as Incentive Units.”

This preliminary determination comes after an extensive community engagement process that took place in 2021. After a vote of the Planning Board, the City then applied to DHCD in February 2022 to obtain this determination.   The letter stating this preliminary eligibility is posted on the East End Smart Growth Overlay District webpage, as is the full application that was submitted to DHCD.

The next steps in this process include the following: the Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) will finalize the draft ordinance language and create design standards for potential development in the proposed East End Smart Growth Overlay District. Additionally, over the next 2 months, OCED staff will review the final report from the Merrimack River District project and hold a workshop with the Design Review Committee to ensure the design standards are consistent with the existing neighborhood character, while developing a vibrant, human-oriented and welcoming eastern gateway into Amesbury. It’s anticipated that a proposed ordinance will be presented to City Council in October 2022. Final approvals for adoption of the ordinance will be required by both the Planning Board and City Council.

Updates will continue to be posted to the East End Smart Growth Overlay District webpage.

Quote from Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove

“The City’s application was based on meeting the needs of current and future residents, revitalizing commercial corridors and gateways, providing a range of housing choices, ensuring better building and site design, improving our infrastructure, and protecting our open space. As the Commonwealth increases its efforts to solve the housing crisis, Amesbury is proud to be taking proactive steps towards providing new housing units.”

Quote from Angela Cleveland, Director, Community & Economic Development
 
“The final report from the Merrimack River District Project and feedback from the Design Review Committee will be helpful in drafting an ordinance that guides development which reflects our community’s character while also creating an eastern gateway that is attractive and welcoming.”

About Smart Growth Overlay Districts
 
Chapter 40R legislation was enacted by the Massachusetts legislature in 2004 to allow municipalities to create Smart Growth Overlay Districts. Smart Growth Overlay Districts utilize a compact and efficient design that is economical, accessible, creates a range of housing, preserves open space, and provides a variety of transportation choices. There is a 20% housing affordability requirement and an incentive payment to the municipality when the Overlay District Ordinance receives final approval from DHCD. Currently, there nearly 50 approved Smart Growth Overlay Districts in Massachusetts. 

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