MERRIMAC — The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing Monday on a 189-unit apartment complex proposed on High Street.
The board will hear concerns and answer questions from neighbors regarding the complex proposed by Ramshead LLC. The hearing starts at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 2 School St.
Officials said 48 of the units would be restricted as affordable for low- or moderate-income people and families.
The property at 0 High St. includes two easements and 13.3 acres owned by 2 Fern Ave. Realty Trust, according to a public notice. The proposal is a Chapter 40B project.
There would be three types of units available for rent, including 76 one-bedroom apartments, 94 two-bedroom apartments and 19 three-bedroom apartments, according to the design proposal. One-bedroom units would feature a single bathroom and two- and three-bedroom units would have two bathrooms.
Of the 48 affordable units, 19 would be one-bedroom apartments with a monthly rent of $1,150 and a utility allowance of $125. In addition, 24 two-bedroom units would be available for a monthly rent of $1,359 and a utility allowance of $171 per month, and five three-bedroom apartments would be available for $1,557 per month and a $211 utility allowance, according to the design proposal.
Board Chairman Josh Jackson noted the project is in its beginning phases and that he would like to see the public become involved in the process. In addition, Jackson said completing a Chapter 40B project is “unusual.”
“I would like the public to be aware that they are more than welcome to voice their opinions and we value their interest and input,” Jackson said. “We are the public ourselves, we are volunteers on the board, and are happy to have any input from it.”
Residents of a neighborhood on Colonial Drive, adjacent to the proposed complex, have raised questions and concerns about how this project would affect their homes and property values, Jackson said.
“It is that neighborhood that has been in touch with me and the building inspector’s office,” Jackson said. “I believe that they will be involved in this process. I empathize with people who are abutting this property. ... All these areas are adjacent to the property in question and I think that it would be reasonable if something like this were going on next to me, I would be curious about it.”
Board members said there aren’t any other apartment complexes of this size in town but there are other Chapter 40B properties with low-income units.
The state requires communities to have at least 10 percent of their housing stock qualified as affordable housing under Massachusetts income guidelines. If a community doesn’t meet the 10 percent mark, developers can come in under Chapter 40B to build apartments as long as a certain percentage meet the affordable housing standard.
Jackson said Merrimac does not meet the 10 percent threshold.
“That is why this is being considered,” Jackson said. “As the ZBA, we have the responsibility to follow the laws and to the best of our abilities to minimize the impact on the town but support all parties in the process.”
Jackson highlighted the importance of mixing affordable housing units with standard apartments in an effort to be fair.
“These units, they should all be the same. One shouldn’t be different than another,” Jackson added.
To view the design proposal, visit www.merrimac01860.info/DocumentCenter/View/1135/Ramshead-at-Merrimac-Chapter-40B-Project?bidId=.
Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.