Chapter 40B Appeal Is A Slow Process



The appeals process for the proposed Chapter 40B housing project off School Street is “slowing plodding through,” according to Town Administrator Greg Federspiel. 

After the Manchester-By-The-Sea Zoning Board of Appeals voted to deny the comprehensive permit in August, developer Geoffrey Engler and SLV School St. LLC appealed that decision to the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).  

Engler and SLV were seeking the comprehensive permit to build a 136-unit apartment building off School Street, opposite the entrance to Atwater Avenue, to be known as The Sanctuary at Manchester-By-The-Sea.  As part of the Chapter 40B permit, 34 of the 136 units would be rented as affordable housing. 

In the months since Engler appealed the ZBA’s decision, the case has been assigned a manager from the Housing Appeals Committee and a couple of conference calls with the attorneys for SLV and the town have taken place, according to Federspiel. 

“Another conference call (will be) coming up in another few weeks,” said Federspiel, when a schedule will be set for filing all the testimony in the case.  And once the testimony is all filed, several weeks will be allowed for rebuttal testimony. 

A site visit will also be scheduled as part of the process, said Federspiel. 

“We will know more in a couple weeks,” said Federspiel.  The next conference call “will layout the timeline.” 

The Manchester Essex Conservation Trust, which is not a direct abutter to the site but maintains environmentally protected land in the Manchester Essex Woods near it, has requested party status as part of the process.

“If they are granted full party status, they can pre-file testimony and cross-examine the various experts that will testify,” said Federspiel. 

Following the rebuttal testimony will be a hearing, most likely in Boston.  The hearing will not take new testimony but will allow both sides to cross-examine the experts who have filed testimony. 

Federspiel said it is likely that the hearing won’t take place for another six months. 

Sometime after the hearing, the Housing Appeals Committee will hear the recommendation from staff and make a final decision.  That may take another sixth months.  

The HAC can rule for the town or for the developer or they could issue the permit for the project with modifications. 

“Depending on the decision, it could get appealed to the courts,” said Federspiel. “That will be the next stage.” 

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