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SOUTH OF BOSTON

Fate of Quincy housing proposal in state’s hands

Quincy, MA - 5/13/18 - Bill Haugh (cq) is fighting a proposed housing project near his home, on Old Colony Avenue in Quincy. He claims removal of the two white buildings at left and a one-story brick building and garage (at left, out of frame) will cause flooding in front of his home (center rear). Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: sowollaston Reporter: Jill Terreri Ramos
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
William Haugh, whose house abuts the site, said the proposed development is too big for the neighborhood.

Developers hoping to build a 40-unit housing development near the Wollaston MBTA station in Quincy are waiting on a decision from the state’s Housing Appeals Committee, possibly this summer, to find out if they can move forward.

The developer, B & D Property Management, wants to tear down buildings it owns on the southeast corner of Old Colony and Warren Avenues and replace them with one building at least three stories tall containing 40 rental units of one-, two- and three-bedrooms. Ten units would be affordable, and the site would also include 40 parking spaces.

The plan has drawn opposition from neighbors, who are worried about additional traffic and fear that drainage problems in the area will worsen. The project was proposed under Chapter 40B, a state law that makes it easier for builders to erect more affordable housing by waiving some local zoning.

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“It’s not that it’s 40B,” said abutter William Haugh, who lives behind the proposed development. “It’s too big for this neighborhood.”

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The city’s zoning board of appeals denied the project in 2017, but the developer appealed the decision to the state housing appeals panel. The parties could meet for a hearing in August, or a decision could be issued before then.

The neighborhood is a mix of residential and industrial uses, and the parcels at 118 Old Colony and 54-60 Warren Ave. are zoned for both types of development.

At one point last year, Quincy officials thought the city had enough affordable housing to satisfy state law — 1.5 percent of its developable land — to give it “safe harbor” from 40B developments.

But new guidelines from the state — and the onset of residential development at MBTA stations in town, thus adding to the total amount of land that must be considered developable — left the city calculating whether it met the state threshold, said City Solicitor James Timmins.

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By the time the city claimed that it did have enough affordable housing to avoid 40B projects, it was too late, according to state authorities.

On a recent tour of his property, Haugh showed how his house sits at the bottom of a bowl, where water can pool from higher elevations.

He has letters from the city from the 1990s that show that city engineers recommended a catch basin be installed in the area to prevent flooding. The city never did the work, Haugh said.

Timmins said the city has studied the project and has no concerns about drainage problems. The city has decided not to fight the developer’s appeal, he said.

Haugh is fighting though, on the grounds that the new project will make drainage problems worse. He is hoping the Housing Appeals Committee rules in his favor and denies the project.

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Sean Carpenter, lawyer for the developer, works in affordable housing development and said there is a huge demand and not enough places for people to live.

“This is quality, new construction, that’s going to be really good for the neighborhood,” he said.

Jill Terreri Ramos can be reached at jill.ramos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jillterreri.