NLC News: Surfside Crossing – Local Review Denied

The Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) issued a number of decisions in the last few weeks that will potentially prevent any local review of the redesigned, oversized and environmentally damaging subdivision off South Shore Road.  

The HAC denied the Nantucket Land Council and the eighteen residents’ (Nantucket Tipping Point) motions to intervene in the Surfside Crossing appeal. The ZBA’s Comprehensive Permit issued last year was appealed by the developers to the HAC. This state agency was created under Chapter 40B as an impartial forum in which to hear appeals of affordable housing developments proposed by developers under Chapter 40B. Unfortunately, the system that has been set up to review such appeals considers appeals only from developers and the history of rulings from the HAC does not demonstrate a balanced consideration of concerns from other interested parties like NLC. This often results in the issuance of permits that have not been fully vetted and conditioned by the local agencies and municipalities in which they are proposed. The NLC is very disappointed in the decision. The extremely narrow ruling of the HAC suggests that the NLC lacks standing to intervene because its concerns are not directly relevant to those regulations the HAC considers, despite having been granted standing before the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the explicit requirement for these permits to consider environmental impacts.

The hearing officer for the HAC issued a decision denying the Town (ZBA’s) motion to dismiss the matter due to the developer’s blatant failure to adhere to the filing requirements of the regulations. The decision ignores the language of the regulations which clearly says the party “shall” file their application with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office within 10 days of filing the appeal. Instead it excuses the more than eight month delay in filing, considering the clear requirement to be more of a suggestion.

Finally, the HAC issued a decision after reviewing the new plans filed by developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner this spring that their redesign of the project constituted “insubstantial changes” and therefore will not be remanded back to the Nantucket ZBA. This ultimately means that the HAC can issue their own Comprehensive Permit with no further review by local agencies or Town departments. We are very concerned that the HAC is denying local input on this project whose impact on Nantucket cannot be overstated. 

The NLC has responded by filing a new complaint with Nantucket Superior Court against these actions taken by the HAC. The Town of Nantucket ZBA, who remains a party to the HAC appeal, has also responded by filing a complaint with Superior Court that the HAC has acted arbitrarily, capriciously, against substantial evidence in the record, and not in accordance of the law. The NLC will continue to work with the Town in order to challenge this outrageous determination, and anticipates continuing our efforts to push for further local review of this project and to pursue suitable housing opportunities on the island while protecting the environment.