Local Government and Politics, News

Saugus considers two-year hold on multi-family housing construction

SAUGUS — The town is considering a two-year moratorium on the construction of multi-family homes while it determines the impact new growth will have on public safety, the schools, and the town’s infrastructure.

Next week the Planning Board will discuss whether Town Meeting should adopt a zoning bylaw amendment, which would establish a moratorium.

“Town Meeting can impose moratoriums if (the town) needs to conduct a story or review of the impact that construction may have,” said Town Counsel John Vasapolli. “Because it’s a zoning article, the Planning Board is required under the law to review it and make a recommendation to Town Meeting.”

If approved by Town Meeting in April, a section would be added to the town’s bylaws that prohibits new building permits from being issued for the construction of multi-family dwellings with three or more units for the next two years, according to a legal notice published in The Item on March 21.

“The reason for this temporary moratorium is that the town is experiencing an unanticipated increase in the construction of multi-family dwellings,” according to the notice.

Because of this, there will be an analysis and study to determine the impact of the construction on “police, fire, and emergency public safety, the school district, the water, sewer, and roadway infrastructure, and the safety of the general public.”

Units slated to open include 245 apartments at the former Golf Country site, 250 at Essex Landing, and 280 units at AvalonBay Communities, the former site of the Hilltop Steakhouse.

If approved, Saugus Ridge, a 40B development proposed near Pranker’s Pond, would add 300 more apartments. That’s more than 800 new units on Route 1 alone.

This wouldn’t be the first time that the town adopted a moratorium, said Vasapolli. Saugus adopted a sewer moratorium in the 1980s.

“Too many people were tying in and we didn’t have the capacity,” said Vasapolli. “Single family, multi-family. It was on all sewer connections. You could put in a septic (tank) on your property, but you could not tie into the public sewers.”

The Planning Board will have a public hearing on the moratorium on April 5 at 25 Main St. and will make a recommendation to Town Meeting on whether the bylaw should be amended.


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