AN ACT ESTABLISHING A PROJECT MITIGATION CONTRIBUTION OR LINKAGE PROGRAM FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE CITY OF SOMERVILLE.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. The general court finds that:
(a) the city of Somerville is undergoing a period of substantial growth in real estate development, and this growth is attracting an increasing number of workers and residents to a city that is already 1 of the most densely populated urban areas in the United States;
(b) this growth is further increasing the demand for affordable housing for low and moderate income households, which has been recognized by the city as an urgent need since 1989;
(c) before the effective date of this act, developers, owners, and financiers have invested substantial time and funds and have relied reasonably and in good faith on the applicability to their developments of article 15 of the Somerville zoning ordinance, including the issuance of special permits and special permits with site plan review granted in connection with those developments, and there is a need to provide certainty that these special permits and special permits with site plan review are valid;
(d) project mitigation contributions made by these developers before the effective date of this act have provided revenues for affordable housing for low and moderate income households in Somerville, and there is a need to ensure that these revenues are secure and available for the provision of affordable housing; and
(e) the purpose of this act is (1) to ensure that developers shall contribute a fair share to the direct and indirect impacts of future development on the city of Somerville's supply of affordable housing for low and moderate income households; and (2) to validate actions taken under article 15 of the Somerville zoning ordinance before the effective date of this act.
SECTION 2. (a) The city of Somerville may, by ordinance, require the payment of an affordable housing linkage fee for any project, including a planned unit development project, that (1) requires zoning relief, including without limitation, a special permit, special permit with site plan review, or site plan approval; and (2) contains a single use or combination of uses exceeding a square foot threshold to be determined from time to time by the board of aldermen. The ordinance shall specify the dollar amount of the linkage fee, the method by which it shall be increased from time to time and the types of uses to which it shall apply.
(b) The city may create a distinct and separate revolving fund account into which affordable housing linkage fees shall be paid, and no such fee shall be paid to the city's general treasury or used as general revenues under section 53 of chapter 44 of the General Laws. The funds in this revolving fund account shall be administered by the trustees of a municipal affordable housing trust fund established by the board of aldermen for the purposes set forth in this act.
(c) All linkage fees previously imposed and collected under article 15 of the Somerville zoning ordinance and the prior approval, grant, or enactment of all zoning ordinance amendments, zoning map amendments, special permits, and special permits with site plan review in connection with article 15 of the Somerville zoning ordinance are acts of independent legal significance governed by the zoning ordinance; and all such fees and zoning ordinance amendments, zoning map amendments, special permits, and special permits with site plan review approved, granted, or enacted before the passage of this act are hereby ratified, validated and confirmed to the extent that they were previously subject to challenge on the grounds that article 15 of the Somerville zoning ordinance was not authorized under the laws of the commonwealth.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Passed without Governor's signature, December 4, 2005.