Planning Board Recommends Council Approval of Smart Growth District

It continues to be smooth sailing for the proposed Innes Housing Development redevelopment project.

Tuesday night, the Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council approve the 40R Smart Growth zoning overlay district. Passage of the zoning will help pave the way for $11 million in state funding for the project.

In addition, with passage of the 40R zoning, Chelsea could receive just over $1 million in additional funds from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

“The purpose of the 40R district is to encourage communities to create dense residential or mixed-use smart growth with a high number of affordable units,” said John DePriest, the City’s director of Planning and Development. “If we adopt the zoning, the City becomes eligible to receive 40R incentive funds.”

The proposed 40R overlay district will overlay the current existing Chelsea Housing Authority Innes Development.

Corcoran Development has partnered with the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) to redevelop the Innes Housing Development in two phases. The 96 public housing units will be re-developed with 40 middle-income (80 to 120 percent of the AMI) units and 194 market rate units. The project will go in two phases to reduce relocation of residents.

All current residents of the 96 public housing units will be eligible to live in the new units.

“This is just the zoning to allow the development,” said DePriest. If the zoning is approved by the City Council, he said there will be a permitting and review process for the project itself.

“So this is just for the specific developer, it will not extend down Central Avenue?” asked Planning Board member Shuvam Bhaumik.

Corcoran project director Ronnie Slammin assured Bhaumik that the smart growth overlay district will only cover the Innes Development.

“This is only for the current eight buildings that are in dire need of replacement,” Slammin said.

As with any development project in Chelsea, the issue of parking was raised during the public hearing.

Planning Board member Mimi Rancatore requested that the board make its recommendation for approval with the caveat that the potential 276 parking spaces for the project be included in the recommendation as the parking limit.

Slammin said the development will have 226 parking spaces on site, with the potential to lease another 50 parking spaces nearby on Eastern Avenue.

The Planning Board recommended the council approve the zoning ordinance without adding a specific parking amendment. Board member Todd Taylor noted the smart growth ordinance already specifies parking density in its language.

Rancatore said she wanted the parking limits specified in the recommendation to help ensure that Chelsea residents who do not own a vehicle are treated unfairly.

In other Planning Board business, the board granted an extension for a special permit and site plan approval hearing for a 33-unit residential structure at 176-178 Washington Avenue.

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