Planning Board holds first hearing for self-storage, mobile home bylaw changes

North Attleborough Town Hall
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During a public hearing at the Department of Public Works, The Planning Board took the first steps in updating zoning bylaws that bar the construction of future mobile homes and self-storage units.

The board met on the evening of July 7 where they expected residents to voice their questions or concerns known about the proposal. However, none in the audience had any issue with the zoning change.

Town Planner Gil Hilario said that North Attleborough had an excess of self-storage units in comparison to surrounding towns, which makes it less attractive in the eyes of potential developers.

We have just been heavily oversaturated with self-storage units,” Hilario said. “The more you add, the more blight comes to the community and the less attractive the community becomes for future development.”

As for the prohibition of building new mobile homes, Hilario said the reason for this zoning change is that mobile homes cannot be counted toward a community’s affordable housing, though these units are frequently very cheap.

Per chapter 40B of the Massachusetts General Law, a municipality must have at least 10 percent of its housing stock be affordable for moderate-income households. North Attleborough currently has 3.5 percent of its housing stock listed as affordable.

For whatever reason, mobile homes—while affordable—do not count as affordable housing under the state law,” Hilario said. “It doesn’t add to our 10 percent.”

Hilario added the proposed zoning bylaw change would not affect mobile homes already in use.

The board agreed that the change to the bylaws was needed and will meet in August to review potential language before submitting the language to the Town Council for a final vote.

Marie K. Clarner, who chairs the board, said the reason to review language next month rather than at the meeting was to ensure the accuracy of the bylaw change.

I’m not crazy about voting on this tonight,” she told her colleagues. “I want to know what this whole thing looks like before we send it to the Town Council.”

The rest of the board unanimously agreed.