The Town of North Attleborough is moving forward on restricting new construction of mobile homes and self-storage units.
The Economic Growth and Sustainability Subcommittee voted 5-0 on Monday, Oct. 3, to approve a zoning amendment drafted by the Planning Board that prohibits these developments. The measure will go to the Town Council for a vote during its next meeting.
The town’s By-Law Subcommittee also reviewed the measure that night but chose to not vote, in order to spend more time reviewing it.
During the two meetings, Town Manager Mike Borg, Town Planner Gil Hilario, and Planning Board Chair Marie Clarner told the committees the town does not need any more self-storage units as North Attleborough is running out of land that could be used for development.
“It’s not a big surprise North Attleborough is almost out of developable land,” Borg said. “The question here is whether prohibiting these developments is beneficial.”
Borg and Clarner said that restricting the building of self-storage units is helpful for the town’s economic growth and that North Attleborough collected the maximum amount of property tax on those already built.
“We have enough,” Hilario added. “We are defining that to the zoning board and making the proper identifications.”
While the subcommittee agreed wholeheartedly on the issue of self-storage centers, there was debate about if mobile homes should no longer be built.
Darius Gregory, the chair of the economic subcommittee, asked if these homes qualified for mixed-use or affordable housing for those with lower incomes.
Clarner told Gregory the houses were mobile homes in name only, as many did not have any wheels underneath the trailers. She said these homes do not qualify for affordable housing under Massachusetts General Law.
“Usually, these homes are built for downsizing,” Clarner explained. “They aren’t used for affordable housing.”
Borg then commented that North Attleborough only has 3.5% housing stock that is considered affordable–below the required benchmark of 10% imposed by the Commonwealth. He said the town must focus on attracting developers to build starter homes for those who graduated college or vocational training rather than continue to focus on three and four-bedroom homes.
“The best bang for our buck is not a mobile home park,” Borg argued. “We need to address housing holistically.”
Despite Gregory’s concerns, the subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the measure, with hopes the full council would agree on its passage. Councilor Andrea Slobogan said she would support the amendment, saying the self-storage units are not helping the town’s growth in a robust way.
“If the town isn’t making money off of these units, then the amendment should be passed,” she said.