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Norwell

Norwell to seek developer for affordable housing on town-owned land

The Norwell Community Housing Trust is getting ready to seek a developer to build affordable housing on six acres of town-owned property on Wildcat Lane.

Gregg McBride, chair of the trust, said his group plans to request proposals from developers late this month for three buildings with 24 rental units, with a quarter of them designated affordable, on the site. The concept is that the buildings would look like three large homes, he said.

“We didn’t want to put a big apartment building on a pretty rural road, so the design mimics a farm area -- a series of rambling buildings,” he said.

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Town Meeting voted in 2004 to use the wooded land for affordable housing.

McBride noted that some neighbors in the nearby Wildcat Hillsdevelopment oppose the project, but said the housing trust will ask the Board of Selectmen to endorse the project as what’s known as a “friendly 40B.”

Under state law, communities in which less than 10 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable must accept Chapter 40B residential projects in which 25 percent of the units meet the state’s criteria for affordability. The projects do not have to adhere to all the community zoning rules and tend to be denser than normal developments.

However, in a “friendly 40B” project, developers work cooperatively with town boards.

In Norwell, only 4.9 percent of housing is considered affordable, according to state data from December 2020.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.