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TOWN OF HINGHAM
BOARD OF APPEALS
NOTICE OF DECISION
COMPREHENSIVE PERMIT MODIFICATION
IN THE MATTER OF:
Applicant: Hingham Campus, LLC/Erickson Retirement Communities, LLC
Property Owner: 300 Linden Ponds Way
Hingham, MA 02043
Premises: 300 Linden Ponds Way
Hingham, MA 02043
Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 34922 Page 21
Plan References: Sample Combined Units Floor Plans, prepared by Mary Silveria Architecture, LLC, 74 Sawyer Avenue, Boston MA, dated August 22, 2013, 3 Sheets
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS
This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of Hingham Campus, LLC/Erickson Retirement Communities, LLC for a modification to the Comprehensive Permit for Linden Ponds to combine up to thirty-six (36) smaller units into eighteen (18) larger two-bedroom units at 300 Linden Ponds Way in Residence District C.
The Board of Appeals heard the application at a duly advertised and noticed public hearing on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 and Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman, W. Tod McGrath and Joseph M. Fisher. The Board was assisted in their review during the hearings by Town Counsel, Susan Murphy.
The Applicant, represented by Jim Wingardner, Executive Director of Linden Ponds, and Attorney Richard Nylen, was in attendance at all hearings.
Throughout its deliberations, the Board has been mindful of the statements of the Applicant and the comments of the general public, all as made or received at the public hearing.
The Board issued a Comprehensive Permit for the construction and operation of a continuing care retirement community, consisting of 1,750 units, on September 18, 2001. The Project (the “Project”), located off Whiting Street, is now partially complete with approximately 985 units built and occupied to date.
The Applicant filed a Notice of Project Change per 760 CMR 56.05(11) in March 2014. The requested change was similar to one approved by the Board in November 2013, but on a larger scale. At that time, the Board determined that the combination of six smaller units into three larger units was an insubstantial change; however, the Board warned that these types of mergers would be viewed cumulatively in the future. Linden Ponds' recent request calls for the combination of 36 smaller adjacent units into 18 larger two-bedroom units.
The Board discussed the proposed change in some detail during its meeting on April 9, 2014. Board members expressed concern that the change might affect the absolute number of affordable units. After discussion, the applicant opted to withdraw the request to consider the change insubstantial and filed a formal request to amend the Comprehensive Permit during a noticed public hearing.
Attorney Nylen, representing Linden Ponds, filed additional materials in support of the application. A draft report from CHAPA, the project monitoring agent, indicates that 28.1% of the existing units as of 2013 were occupied by eligible households (260 out of 922). The Comprehensive Permit requires that 27.7% of the units be made available to households earning no more than 80% of area median income. The Applicant also presented market research, including a Demand Study prepared by Market Intelligence in June 2013 and Prospect Research conducted by Edge Research in May 2014, showing a greater demand for 2-bedroom units.
Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, the Board made the following findings:
1. The Applicant submitted a formal application to the ZBA to combine up to 36 one (1) bedroom units to make 18 two (2) bedroom units at Linden Ponds. The units have not been selected yet but will be out of an identified pool of 54 units.
2. The Board and the Applicant agreed after review of a Notice of Project Change that the proposal was a modification of the Comprehensive Permit subject to a formal application, notice and public hearing.
3. The Applicant submitted evidence and testimony that the demand for two bedroom units at Linden Ponds is greater than supply and that the supply of single bedroom units is greater than the demand.
4. In order to meet this demand, the Applicant proposes to select 36 single bedroom or studio units and combine them into 18 two (2) bedroom units.
5. The Applicant represented that it has identified 54 units throughout the campus as the pool to select the 36 units to construct 18 two (2) bedroom units. The combination of units will not result in changes to impervious areas, the building footprint or the total number of bedrooms.
6. The Applicant represented that additional buildings cannot be built at the facility due to financing restrictions until the occupancy rate is above 93% of its existing housing inventory. The Applicant represented that combining units will increase its occupancy rate toward the target.
7. The Applicant agrees that the 27.7% requirement for affordable units referenced in the Comprehensive Permit will be based upon the total number of units in the facility plus the twenty-one (21) units that will be eliminated to create 21 new two (2) bedroom units. This number represents the total combined units from this modification (18) in addition to those approved in November 2013 through a Notice of Project Change (3).
DECISION AND CONDITIONS
Based upon the findings set forth above, the Board of Appeals voted unanimously to APPROVE the Comprehensive Permit Modification to combine forty-two (42) one (1) bedroom units into twenty-one (21) two (2) bedroom units, subject to the following conditions:
- There shall be no negative effect on the affordable housing components of the Permit, including the Scholarship Fund, as a result of this Modification.
- The combination of 36 units as approved herein, together with the combination of 6 units previously permitted on November 20, 2014, shall not affect the total number of affordable units required in the Project as specified in the Comprehensive Permit dated September 18, 2001, or any other conditions of the Comprehensive Permit. The calculation of the 27.7% of the units that are required to be affordable units shall be based upon the total number of units occupied plus twenty-one (21) units in order that there be no decrease in the total number of affordable units as a result of the combination of units.
- Approval of this amendment shall not constitute a waiver, admission or evidence relevant to the Board's stated position that all units at Linden Ponds should qualify for inclusion on the Town's Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).
- If all units within Linden Ponds should be removed from the SHI, the Board may revoke the Comprehensive Permit for the Project.
For the Board of Appeals,
W. Tod McGrath, Chairman
June 30, 2014