Goal in Cumberland: Require more affordable units

Goal in Cumberland: Require more affordable units

CUMBERLAND – Planning Director Jonathan Stevens says the Planning Department is drafting an inclusionary zoning ordinance which will make enforceable the requirement that at least 20 percent of all developments in Cumberland over five units be affordable.

The measure is currently in the town’s comprehensive plan, he said, but there is no existing ordinance requiring 20 percent, meaning someone in theory can push back and say, “I don’t think so.”

The proposed change, when introduced and if approved, would in theory accelerate the town’s efforts to boost affordable housing stock, said Stevens, as 20 percent for new developments is double the state’s target of 10 percent total affordable units in each community.

For subdivisions, he said, there would be a provision where a developer could opt out of the requirement if they put a fee in an affordable housing fund.

The ordinance needs to specify such items, he said, reflecting consistency with state law and practicality of development.

In the U.S., affordable housing is housing, rent or a mortgage plus utility payments totaling 30 percent or less of a household’s gross income.

In an update to the Town Council last week, Stevens provided updates on a number of matters.

He said the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. has awarded the town of Cumberland a $100,000 grant to develop a plan that capitalizes on economic development opportunities presented by various expected redevelopment projects.

Those projects include ones at Ann & Hope, the Naushon Mill, possibly a proposed St. Patrick Church apartment conversion project, RIDOT improvements to Broad Street, the development of New Pond Park, the new intermodal MBTA station in Pawtucket, and potential federal opportunity zone investment.

Also included in the scope of the Valley Falls/Lonsdale Economic and Social Equity Development Plan grant is some redrafting of the Cumberland Code of Ordinances.

Stevens said the Ann & Hope residential redevelopment project is still awaiting complete zone change, master plan and comprehensive plan amendment submissions from developers.

On the Peterson Puritan OU2 Superfund site, he said town staff are working with BETA Group and the town’s outside legal counsel to negotiate site development requirements and a long-term maintenance agreement between EPA, DEM and the polluters group engineers.

On the Albion Town Dump testing, remediation, capping and closure plan, he said GZA is preparing sub-consultant pollution testing actions. Site inspection took place in early July.

Comments

The state drives up housing prices and creates sprawl with taxes, regulations, and subsidies. They should get out of the way.