Council will hold separate meetings on affordable housing mandate

Council will hold separate meetings on affordable housing mandate

PAWTUCKET – The City Council is planning a series of meetings on a proposal to require 10 percent affordable housing in the new Transit-Oriented Development district around a coming new train station off Main Street.

Councilor Terry Mercer, head of the ordinance subcommittee, said this week that the council will hold a pair of meetings tonight, May 1, separating out the affordable housing component from the rest of the planned TOD zoning ordinance.

At 6:45 p.m. at City Hall, the council will begin discussing all aspects of the TOD ordinance other than the inclusionary affordable housing component, said Mercer. It appears all previous issues with those aspects of the ordinance have been ironed out.

At 7:15 p.m., a workshop of both the ordinance and economic development subcommittees will “start the ball rolling on addressing the proposal for an affordable housing component to the ordinances,” he said. The entire ordinance was previously sent back to both committees for further review, and Mercer expects the committees to vote separately on sending the “bulk of that ordinance back to the floor” at the next council meeting.

Members of the city’s commerce and planning departments have asked that the council adopt everything except the inclusionary zoning portion of the ordinance so developers can move forward with what they need for their projects. Developers are counting on making certain investments to take advantage of available incentives.

On the affordable component, said Mercer, there’s “a whole lot more vetting to be done.” Meetings will be held every other Wednesday, on off-council nights, he said. In two more weeks, there should be enough additional information “to meet again and wade through it,” he said.

Councilor John Barry III asked Planning Director Sue Mara last week that the city notify every property owner in the TOD district that they are part of the district and can come to meetings to hear the details. He was responding to previous complaints from longtime owners who said they weren’t notified of their inclusion.

“I just want to make sure that people know what this ordinance means to them and their property,” said Barry.

Mara said all property owners were properly notified previously and a meeting was held with more than 200 people at The Guild on Main Street. She said officials will again make sure everyone is notified of subsequent meetings through multiple modes of communication.