By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
By a margin of 10-2, the Everett City Council on Monday night approved a new inclusionary zoning by-law that will require new residential developments with more than 10 units to set aside a prescribed percentage of units for affordable housing.
The issue has been before the Council for some time, and has been deliberated for several months.
The measure is an effort to help the City meet its goal to provide10-percent of housing as affordable for people living below 80-perent of the regional average income level.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who has seen his administration struggle to win support for Inclusionary Zoning over the last several years, appeared before the Council with Planning and Development Director Tony Sousa, to answer Councilors’ questions and advocate on behalf of the zoning.
“This is just so that if a developer comes in to develop 200-units, a certain percentage would be for affordable housing,” explained Mayor DeMaria. “When we say ‘affordable,’ 70-percent of people who rent in Everett now would qualify for affordable rents and 40-percent of home owners in Everett would qualify.”
The Mayor and Planning and Development Director Sousa explained that a two-bedroom apartment right now in Everett rents for about $2,100 per month. However, under state guidelines for affordability, the same unit would rent for approximately $1,700 per month. Sousa also explained that the zoning includes a preference for local residents for up to 70-percent of the new units.
Councilors Rosa DiFlorio and Michael McLaughlin disagreed with Mayor DeMaria and Sousa that the proposed zoning would make the units available to local residents, but Councilor Fred Capone noted that the point of the proposed zoning is that it helps the City deter a Chapter 40B development, which would allow a developer to obtain a permit without any input from local boards.