North Amherst Beacon Community 40B Project

Summary Comprehensive Permit Process

There are two main phases at the local level for reviewing a comprehensive permit: 
(1) Project Eligibility and
(2) review of the 40B comprehensive permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals.   

Project Eligibility

The Select Board has been involved with this process and the associated documents are listed below:

July 18, 2016 Select Board Meeting
Memo from staff explaining Comprehensive Permit Process
Presentation by Beacon Communities introducing project to the Town

September 12, 2016 Select Board Meeting     
09-07-16 memo from staff answering questions by Select Board about project eligibility phase 

September 26, 2016 Select Board Meeting
Beacon Communities Brochure
Site Plan dated 8-25-16
Meeting packet with additional documents 

Beacon Communities submitted the Project Eligibility application to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for preliminary review of their project.  

During this phase the Town provided comments on September 30, 2016 to DHCD as part of this preliminary review.  Thank you to all those who submitted comments!

9/30/2016 Town Comment Letter to DHCD with attachments
DHCD reviews the Project Eligibility application based on criteria in Massachusetts regulations (Mass 760 CMR 54.04(4)), which are explained below.  These criteria are also the same the public can use to make comments:

Findings in Determination. A determination of Project Eligibility, to be issued by the Subsidizing Agency after the close of the 30-day review period, shall make the following findings, based upon its review of the application, and taking into account information received during the site visit and from written comments: 

(a) that the proposed Project appears generally eligible under the requirements of the housing subsidy program, subject to final approval under 760 CMR 56.04(7); 

(b) that the site of the proposed Project is generally appropriate for residential development, taking into consideration information provided by the municipality or other parties regarding municipal actions previously taken to meet affordable housing needs, such as inclusionary zoning, multifamily districts adopted under M.G.L. c. 40A, and overlay districts adopted under M.G.L. c. 40R (such finding, with supporting reasoning, to be set forth in reasonable detail); 

(c) that the conceptual project design is generally appropriate for the site on which it is located, taking into consideration factors that may include proposed use, conceptual site plan and building massing, topography, environmental resources, and integration into existing development patterns (such finding, with supporting reasoning, to be set forth in reasonable detail); 

(d) that the proposed Project appears financially feasible within the housing market in which it will be situated (based on comparable rentals or sales figures); 

(e) that an initial pro forma has been reviewed, including a land valuation determination consistent with the Department’s guidelines, and the Project appears financially feasible and consistent with the Department’s guidelines for Cost Examination and Limitations on Profits and Distributions (if applicable) on the basis of estimated development costs; 

(f) that the Applicant is a public agency, a non-profit organization, or a Limited Dividend Organization, and it meets the general eligibility standards of the housing program; and 

(g) that the Applicant controls the site, based on evidence that the Applicant or a related entity owns the site, or holds an option or contract to acquire such interest in the site, or has such other interest in the site as is deemed by the Subsidizing Agency to be sufficient to control the site. 

The Subsidizing Agency shall provide copies of its written determination of Project Eligibility to the Department, the Chief Executive Officer of the municipality, and the Board.

The following are a list of documents submitted by Beacon as part of its Project Eligibility.  Please click the link to view and download each document. 
DHCD Transmittal Letter to the Town
Beacon Project Eligibility Letter to DHCD
Project Eligibility Table of Contents
Beacon Communities (applicant) information
Site Description
Site and Context Maps
Building Tabulations
Housing Program Eligibility
Project Description
Conceptual Design Drawings and Figures
Buildings Description
List of Zoning Waivers and Exemptions
Unit Mix and Rental Calculations and Development Budget
Market Study  
Beacon July Presentation to Select Board

Housing and Sheltering Committee Letter
Town Zoning Map
Existing Site Information






ZBA Review of Comprehensive Permit

The ZBA Reviews a Comprehensive Permit based on

1. Local zoning and local regulations (Zoning Bylaw, General Bylaws, etc.)
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40 Section B, parts 20-23, and
State regulations of 760 CMR 56.

Other guidance documents
Legal counsel letter explaining ZBA review process
MassHousing Partnership--Municipal Role in 40B 
40B workshop-Northampton Sept. 2016






The following is a timeline of the ZBA process for reviewing 40B comprehensive permit:

Within 7 days of the receipt of the Comprehensive Permit application, the ZBA needs to distribute copies of the Comprehensive Permit application to all Local Boards, departments, and committees.

Within 14 Days from receipt of the application the initial public hearing must be advertised with proper legal notice and proper notice to abutters

Within 30 Days from receipt of the application The ZBA must open the initial public hearing

Within 15 days from initial public hearing the ZBA must make a determination as to whether or not it wants to deny an application

Within 15 days from ZBA action the applicant must file its written response (challenge) with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)

Within 30 Days from filing of an applicant’s challenge DHCD must issue its decision re: the applicant’s appeal

Within 180 days from initial public hearing the ZBA must close the public hearing (Except with the written consent of the applicant for an extension)

Within 40 Days from closing of the public hearing the ZBA must “render a decision” (Denial, Approval, or Approval with Conditions), based on a majority vote

Within 14 days of its decision, the ZBA must file a copy with Town Clerk

Within 20 Days from date the ZBA decision is filed with the Town Clerk the application or public can appeal the ZBA’s decision.