This is why forcing a land value "as is" appraisal is
necessary. The 40B MassHousing "facilitator" for this project, Edith
Netter, was also the author of the DHCD guidelines that are being
presented to town ZBA's. This issue was brought to the ZBA's attention
during this hearing and was totally ignored even though she recommended
it in her guidelines.
The appraisal was not undertaken until Patricia
Worden pursued the matter not only with MassHousing but also with our
local Legislators and our Town Manager. This only further confirms that
the Inspector General's audits of excessive 40B profits was necessary.
By the way, MassHousing failed to respond to
Patricia's initial letter to them regarding "as is" appraisal.
The question remains, why haven't DHCD and the
supporting agencies been on top of this issue and other concerns as to
40B developers practices. Also why are our ZBA's blindly following the
MassHousing facilitators acceptance of land values?
If you're involved in an active 40B ZBA hearing, make
sure the IG's audits and this example is used to force an appraisal if
there is even a hint of inflated values.
See the below correspondence
To: Senator Havern, Reps.
Brownsberger, Kaufman, Marzilli
From: Patricia Worden
Re: "As-is" appraisal
requirement for Brattle street 40B site
It is of interest that the
"as-is" appraisal* obtained by the Town for the Brattle Street 40B site
market value is seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($750,000). Since
the value given in the appraisal submitted by the developer, Santini, was
$1.745m it's clear that if Santini's faulty appraisal submission were used
instead of the true "as-is" value in the calculation of profits then the
Town could lose about one million dollars which could otherwise be used for
our affordable housing needs. Thanks again for your help and interest in
Santini's Brattle Street
appraisal appears to have been based on its speculative residential use
rather than on its permitted residential use and this is clearly
demonstrated on the market by, for example, the fact that the amount paid by
Armstrong Ambulance for its lot at Mystic street was about one third of
the appraised value provided by Santini at Brattle Street on a square foot
basis although both lots are industrially zoned.
Just 2% of Arlington's land
is zoned industrial. To allow appraisals based on the assumption that this
land can be used for residential use is antithetical both to the established
policy of the Town (see Article 10 of the 2004 Annual Town Meeting which
voted that industrial land should not be used for residential construction)
and to the Commonwealth's "smart" growth and sustainable development
principles (it will result in the forcing of current and prospective
industrial users to locate out of town, reduce job opportunities forcing
more employees to commute out of Town, and removing needed services such as
automotive repair and maintenance-related - landscaping, carpentry, building
trades- forcing Alingtonians to drive to other cities or towns for these
services and supplies thereby contributing to traffic congestion, greenhouse
gases emissions etc.) It is fortunate that the Town has now establ ished
the true "as-is" value of the Brattle Street land and hopefully this will
result in a proper contribution of excess profits to the Town's affordable
housing needs. We may even find an added benefit if there is a cessation of
the kind of newspaper advertisement that has been happening in attempted
sale of Arlington industrial property with the tag line "possible 40B."