Last week Winchester housing officials released the draft of the Winchester housing production plan, a 112-page document that outlines how the town is going to increase its stock of affordable housing. Now, officials want to hear from they community: Do residents agree with the goals and strategies in the plan? What changes need to be made? The public comment review period will be open until Sept. 14. Then, the document will be revised based on the input received.
“We want to find out what the sentiment is in the town in terms of which strategies we should be focusing on,” said Brian Szekely, Winchester Town Planner. Szekely aims to submit the housing production plan to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for approval before December.
The production of the draft plan is a directive from the Select Board, and is the result of quantitative and qualitative data analysis and input from various boards and committees, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), and the community, who participated in focus groups and public forums.
“This plan was done for, and in large part by, the people of Winchester,” states the introduction to the document.
The document consists of six housing goals and 24 housing strategies to accomplish those goals. The strategies are broken down into several categories: programming, community engagement, resource and regulatory strategies. There is background on the town’s history with housing, graphs of population growth, evolution of household sizes, ages, and incomes, and a section on development constraints.
Amid helpful suggestions, Szekely said, he’s received some feedback rooted in general resistance to more dense housing in Winchester.
But that’s not what the plan is about, he notes.
“It’s state law, so we can’t really combat that,” he said.
Creating a housing plan is intended to be a tool against a particular kind of dense housing projects.
Currently, with only close to 2 percent of affordable housing in Winchester, developers building affordable housing units within their structures can largely bypass town zoning laws. Under Massachusetts’ Chapter 40B law, the housing production plan, along with incremental progress toward the law’s 10 percent affordable housing goal, will provide temporary “safe harbor” from these development projects.
The plan is available online and you can pick up a print copy at the Winchester Public Library, Jenks Center, and Town Hall. Residents with disabilities can request the document in the format that fits their needs.
Here are the six goals that will guide housing police decisions over the next five years:
- Expanded supply of diverse housing types for seniors, younger households, and other smaller households.
- Preservation of the town’s smaller, more moderately-priced housing units to support seniors looking to age in the community and other small households.
- Increased housing in Smart Growth locations.
- Increased deed-restricted Affordable housing for lower-income households.
- An engaged and aware community.
- Increased local capacity for implementation of the Winchester HPP to better succeed at meeting local housing need and demand.
The feedback can be submitted at https://mapc.typeform.com/to/NfnTFK.
Read the full document