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Saugus Residents Will Tour Opposed Route 1 Housing Site

SAUGUS — The Zoning Board of Appeals and concerned residents will tour the proposed site of a mixed-income housing development on Route 1 on Saturday morning.

“This is a really precious area and we don’t have many in Saugus,” said Ann Devlin, a Town Meeting member and president of Saugus SAVE. “Its proximity to Prankers Pond makes this the saddest thing that has happened to Saugus that I can see yet.”

Cliff Road resident John Bambury agreed.

“I just don’t understand why you’re going to take a beautiful piece of land and stick this thing up there,” he said.

Developers are seeking approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals for 300 units in a Chapter 40B development on Route 1 North near Prankers Pond. Submitted by Saugus Residential, LLC, the proposed development — which would be called Saugus Ridge — would be two apartment buildings that would be connected by an amenity area of offices, a mail room, a lounge, the leasing center, and a lobby. There would also be a courtyard, and possibly a pool.

The buildings are proposed to be four stories each with three-story portions in the center.

The 300 units include 29 studios to be rented at about $1,400, 136 one-bedroom apartments to be rented at about $1,500, 104 two-bedrooms to be rented at about $1,750, and 31 three-bedrooms to be rented at just over $2,000.

The development would be just behind McDonald’s and would pass through an easement out to Route 1. There would be 495 parking spaces.

The state’s 40B housing program allows developers to override local zoning bylaws to increase stock of affordable housing in municipalities where less than 10 percent of the homes are affordable.

Chapter 40B was enacted by state legislature in 1969 to create affordable housing in the state. Affordable housing is defined by the federal government as housing that doesn’t cost people more than 30 percent of their income.

Moderate income is defined as 80 percent of median income, which is also defined by the federal government regionally. In the Boston area, which includes Saugus, the median income for a family of four is $107,000. Moderate income in Saugus is about $80,000.

Low income is defined as 50 percent of the median income, and very low income is defined as 30 percent of the median income.

Cities and towns can avoid 40B developments by meeting the state’s threshold of having 10 percent of housing as affordable. Saugus has about 10,700 housing units and 6.8 percent are deemed affordable by the state.

In 2016, the Massachusetts Area Planning Council held visioning sessions with the town to help develop a housing development plan. At the time, only 7 percent, or 749 units, were considered affordable.

If the town does not meet the required 10 percent, developers are allowed to override local zoning and build denser developments.

Cliff Road resident Rick LeClair said in a meeting last week that he’s concerned about the development’s proximity to his home.

“When we talk about affordable housing, we cannot get away from the fact that some of the tenants will not be your ideal, model citizens,” said Leclair. “I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers but it is what it is. As residents, I want to know that we are protected.”

Mark Bobrowski, an attorney representing the petitioner, said an individual person would have to make $55,000 to qualify for the housing, a couple would have to make $63,000, and a three- and four-person family would be upwards of $70,000.

“We’re not talking about people other than your teachers, your firemen, your policemen, people beginning their careers before buying their first home, and people moving into something after selling their home,” said Bobrowski.

The group will tour the site at 10 a.m.

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