To the Editor: The latest press release and sales video for Surfside Crossing shows a level of honestly on par with the level of honesty that we have seen with the SBPF project. I mean it’s the same players, so what did we expect?
My opinion: This project is not and never has been about the local community. The only thing that has been clear from the outset is that Surfside Crossing has been about the millionaire developers exploiting Nantucket and the 40B law so that they may make a profit off the backs of the hardworking people of Nantucket and that is what its PR-crafted press release and sales video highlights. Surfside Crossing is not going to solve the housing problem on Nantucket. Wade through the smoke and mirrors and one is left with some huge gaps in the plans that yet again the community, not the developers, will be left paying for.
As someone who personally spent hundreds of hours at ZBA meetings and hundreds of hours reviewing last-minute document dumps by the same two developers I see nothing more than a well paid- for PR firm and stakeholders grasping for public approval on a project that has a scale and density like no other on-island. I feel the press release is a nicely worded and probably expensive PR letter and sales video with a great pitch for off-island short-term-rental investors to take interest.
Those featured are all stakeholders or have a financial incentive to promote and endorse this type of project to persuade the public into believing this is for our community. The video contains inaccurate statements or contains statements that are misleading because they fail to disclose information necessary to make the statement not misleading.
To infer they are striving to be environmentally sustainable and with significant open space is in my opinion a farce. Surfside Crossing hired people to go in with masks on a Saturday morning and clear-cut the endangered species habitat before the Northern Long Eared Bat got federally up-listed. That doesn’t sound environmentally- minded to me. The remaining “habitat” as a requirement by the conservation management plan is essentially a 10-foot to 20-foot perimeter buffer. I am not sure what habitat that serves?
They mention 39 “affordable” condo units out of 156 Condos. That is the minimum requirement by law and in my opinion not out of the goodness of their heart. Why not do more if this project is really about affordable housing on Nantucket? The flawed 40B law gets used by developers to skirt local regulations to get projects subsidized by tax dollars and now they’re looking for nonprofits and the town to further join them.
They mention historic matters yet refuse to abide by HDC standards that the rest of the island adheres to.
The developers are not the ones deed restricting the development, they’re looking for buyers to do that and further subsidize their profit.
They say a three-minute drive to the schools. Is that at 3 a.m.? It’s not three minutes now during daylight hours and a project of this density is only going to increase traffic congestion. We’ve all been stuck on Surfside Road whether it be in the summer or during the school year. You have seen the signs: Imagine 800 more cars here.
It’s funny they mention safety: 18 condo buildings and one community building all the size or larger than the Veranda House. I wonder how a fire in a development with 19 buildings that large and more dense than Richmond will be extinguished and with only one exit? How will it be policed? Studies show when you increase density in a neighborhood, the need for law enforcement goes up. Do police really want to live with their families where they also police all day and night? Who really wants to play college dorm RA their entire life? Would a firefighter really risk putting their family in housing they are potentially unable to extinguish? Do parents have to choose between housing and safety?
Funny to have a real estate agent explain to us all where this development is to be located, “within striking distance of Surfside Beach” and lists all the intended amenities. It sounds like a great brochure ad for a rental, not for a year-round community.
Funny how this lovely and most likely very expensive PR press release and sales video says they are in the “home stretch with presales available.” I wonder if they mention the at least three lawsuits filed by three different entities against this development? Is that the home stretch?
How is the town’s housing director negotiating with taxpayer funds for potential deals with the developers, for the town to buy units while a taxpayer-funded lawsuit is in progress? Why is the town negotiating against itself? All while the town missed the state conservation management permit and the 21-day appeal period that was missed by three different town departments or considered “informational only.”
Has the town learned nothing from its other private/ public partnership?
It is insulting to me to hear the stakeholders say, “This is their opportunity to give back,” this is “their contribution” “their responsibility” In my opinion, Surfside Crossing is not about “affordable housing,” it is reckless to public health, safety and welfare. Not resolving risks for the sake of economics and profit in the name of “affordable housing,” that is what Surfside Crossing is all about. MEGHAN PERRY Nantucket Tipping Point
February 8, 2023, Select Board meeting excerpt - " Follow-up on Public Comment from February 1, 2023, Board Meeting Regarding Surfside Crossing 40B Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Permit. "
To the Editor: What hurts the most from the destructive events of last weekend at the site of developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner’s proposed Surfside Crossing development is that it was completely preventable.
The conservation permit for Surfside Crossing was sent out for distribution Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, at 2:12 p.m. to both the developer Jamie Feeley, their environmental consultant Brian Madden and three Town of Nantucket departments from Emily Holt, endangered species review assistant, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts
Division of Fisheries & Wildlife The permit was sent to the general e-mail box for Planning & Land Use Services and the Conservation Commission.
Additionally, it was sent to the direct e-mails of Leslie Snell (staff for the Zoning Board of Appeals, zoning enforcement officer, and deputy director of planning) Erika Mooney (staff for Select Board and operations administrator for town administration) and Jeff Carlson (staff for ConCom and Natural Resources director).
In speaking to board members and commissioners of these various boards it has become apparent that the permit was not brought to their attention. Rather staff let the appeal period expire without notifying.
As a community, we were deprived of our ability and right to appeal.
The ZBA/Select Board is currently in litigation and to appeal could support their positions. By the lack of actions this avenue was not available. Was there any discussion at the staff level about not sending this along to the boards or town counsel? Why was the simple act of hitting forward to an e-mail not done?
The project brought 800plus people to a meeting in opposition. The elected officials – Select Board and Planning Board – were deprived of any opportunity to support their constituents.
This was not a limited permit. It is a permit with many far-reaching consequences. In reading the 15 general conditions of the permit and the 10 special conditions of the permit one can see that: There was a 21-day appeal period for anyone aggrieved by this permit from date of issuance to appeal. That means I could have appealed it individually, that the town could have appealed it, Land Council could have, based on what the permit allows for almost anybody off the street could have appealed it because it is so egregious.
However, without being notified by those who received it and should have made it public those rights were unknowingly taken away from me and the community. This is inexcusable.
“This permit is a final decision of the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife pursuant to 321 CMR 10.23. Any person aggrieved by this decision shall have the right to an adjudicator's hearing at the Division pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, s.11 in accordance with the procedures for informal hearings set forth in 801 CMR 1.02 and 1.03.
Any notice of claim for an adjudicatory hearing shall be made in writing and be accompanied by a filing fee in the amount of $500.00. The notice of claim shall be sent to the Division by certified mail, hand delivered or postmarked within twenty-one (21) days of the date of issuance of this Permit.”
Please pay close attention to the conditions of this permit. “Open Space” will consist of 2.08 acres, basically a 20-foot buffer on the South Shore Road property line and 10-foot buffer on the three other sides. That is it.
$641,796 had been allocated to Natural Heritage to mitigate 11.5 acres of disturbed land. You cannot find 11.5 acres of land on Nantucket for $641,796, never mind undisturbed. So those funds will be sent off-island. MEGHAN PERRY Nantucket Tipping Point
Nantucket being an island with finite resources and being 30 miles out to sea does not have the capacity to safely support a project of this size and density.
Here are some of the reasons why…
High density developments such as Surfside Crossing are a known risk. The developer is aware of the risks and has ignored the risks as they have been pointed out by many local Boards, Committees, Commissions, non-profit organizations and the public. The developers have appealed to the State Housing Appeals Committee with an even more egregious plan then any local board or anyone on island for that matter has ever seen under the guise that the regional need for affordable housing outweighs the local concerns-locals concerns and public safety is not something to be weighed against regional needs for housing. They are not equal. Safety of the community should be absolute. Not resolving these risks for the sake of economics and profit in the name of affordable housing is reckless to public health, safety and welfare.
Fire risks: Per the Fire Chief, "This development places an overwhelming responsibility on the Fire Department if an emergency were to arise. The potential load of one empty apartment building would require 5,200 gallons of water per minute to extinguish, an impossible mark to meet for the Department”. Based on the plans provided in the comprehensive permit. Thats 312,000 gallons of water per hour.
Upon appeal to the HAC the Fire Chief’s pre-filed testimony stated, “It is the position of the Fire Department that the proposed design and size of the building in relation to the size of the lot and the location of the site provide inadequate fire access, creating a serious public safety concern.” Yet the developer chose to ignore the issues and proceed.
The Varanda House fire used just over 800,000 gallons of water for one building in over 12 hours and ended in a complete loss of the building. One apartment building at SSX burning for 12 hours will require 3,744,000 gallons of water if it burns as long a Varanda House. Each water tower on island holds 2,000,000 gallons of water for a total of 4,000,000 gallons of water in tanks to provide for the entire island if they are full and usable and only if the island’s infrastructure can get the water to site. Nantucket’s first responders (medical as well) need not be placed in higher risk situations by choice. Attempting to solve one problem (housing) while creating an even greater problem (high density buildings and developments) is not the answer. Increased risk for the sake of profit should never be the answer.
A little background for you: The Veranda House (a building similar in size to one of the proposed 19 buildings at Surfside Crossing) fire that I mentioned occurred on July 9, 2022, and it has been determined it was started by something so simple as improper disposal of a smoking item. That particular fire used just over 800,000 gallons of water (per our water company’s calculations) to extinguish in a little less than 12 hours ending in a complete loss of the building and two neighboring houses.
Twenty-three members of the Nantucket Fire Department were called upon and were on scene that day. That is our entire department, and four retired fire fighters joined the efforts. That is 27 fire fighters who also act as EMTs for the island. First on scene was an off-duty firefighter who happened to be downtown getting coffee with his family and saw the flames. Knowing the danger to the public that was in front of him, he ran right into the burning building to try to save lives and he did. He acted selflessly to save others in an impossible situation. As a community, we need to help those who help save us, especially when the risks are identified and known. These are our friends, our neighbor, our sons, daughters, our children’s teachers etc. that these developers are willing to put at risk for profit.
Had this fire been off island, many more fire fighters plus EMT’s would have assisted in extinguishing this disaster through mutual aid. Another town off island in MA had a house fire similar in size to the Veranda House fire the same week and had roughly 150 fire fighters to help extinguish it. To say our local first responders were outmatched is an understatement. Miraculously these selfless individuals literally saved the town from burning down. Fortunately, no deaths occurred but health related issues continue to affect first responders.
If nothing else, we need to learn from this and make impactful change so that known risks are not a part of the equation. Fortunately, there were no other simultaneous emergencies. Mutual aid was called into the Cape and 16-20 firefighters came over to assist, arriving 5 hours into the fire. They had to take the one-hour ferry over and walk to the fire. There was no additional firefighting apparatus brought to the island. Fortunately, it was not windy, and the boats were running! Also, very fortunate for everyone, it was not the middle of the night and at times that the boats were not running.
Learning and moving forward it makes sense that the Fire Department’s input should be considered and adhered to in every large scale and high density 40B development similar to how other State level regulations are adhered to before a 40B development can move forward. The developers and Department of Housing and Community Development and the Housing Appeals Committee are not fire experts and by not taking the local Fire Chief’s recommendation they are knowingly putting housing before the public’s health, safety and welfare and putting the first responders who protect the community at risk.
Is there a lack of “affordable housing” on island? Yes. Is this a new problem? No. Will Surfside Crossing solve that problem? No.
The tragic irony with both Surfside Crossing and MGL 40B law is those in the community who need housing for which the developer touts the "affordable housing” units are for, our teachers, firefighters, doctors, police and others in the workforce do not qualify for “affordable housing”. Only a small percentage, 25%, is required by law to be “affordable” and the developer has stated when asked at public meetings that they will not do more.
The proposed high density, 156 all condominium units on 13 acres of undeveloped land that developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner are trying to push forward despite not a single local board seeing or agreeing with the proposal will be subsidized by the community for the developers' profit. Of the 156 units, only 39 will be “affordable” as they are required to be by the State and the developers have stated that is all they will build for “affordable units”. That means 117 units will be sold at full price market rate. Will they be investment properties? Short term rentals? The burden to line the developer’s pockets will fall directly on the community’s shoulders. The costs to handle the burden of Surfside Crossing will be absorbed by the community not the developers.
From the Surfside Crossing Comprehensive Permit-HAC modification submittal, the developer is seeking waivers from the Town of Nantucket local bylaws, rules and regulations and every fee the general public is required to pay associated with the above mentioned. In some instances, the development is creating a need for upgrades.
Surfside Crossing requests that waivers be granted from any requirements to apply to the Town or other municipal boards or departments including but not limited to the Nantucket Selectboard, Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Historic District Commission, Nantucket Historical Commission, Planning Board, Department of Public Works and water and Sewer Department and/or Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners.
Sewer- Developers requests Sewer Connection Fees and Capacity fees be waived. One permit application fee is $4,000 per unit plus a Sewer capacity fee at a minimum starting point of $6,705.66 for a three bedroom. That is $10,705.66 just for sewer fees for the general public. The developers are asking to have their fees waived to the tune of bare minimum rough figure of $1,670,082.96 or more.
Water- Developers requests connection fees be waived. Connection fee is $5,000 per connection. That’s $780,000 that the developers want the pubic to pay for.
Requested Water and Sewer waived fees minimum cost to the Nantucket community is $2,450,082.96.
Storm water run-off - Property is located in the Wellhead Protection District Zone II of public drinking water supply and Lower Nantucket Wellhead Protection District for sole source aquifer.
Police: high density developments require appropriate safety measures designed and implemented including lighting, landscaping and building access design.
Traffic: 156 dwellings, 389 bedrooms, estimated 455 cars added to the current traffic congestion plus cost of road repairs and upgrades needed.
School: Developer refused to provide a school impact study.
Electric cable - Third cable is estimated to cost $150-175 million to the local ratepayers.
Habitat loss - The entire property contains Priority Habitats of Rare Species, and the project will disturb the entire acreage. The endangered Northern Long Eared bat is an example of a species known to live in the abutting properties- one could presume bats and other wildlife don’t know property lines/boundaries and would thus be present on the development property.
Historical landmark designations.
Affordable Housing is a national issue. Not singularly to Nantucket. Just as local bylaws such as traffic patterns and regulations, safe drinking water for all, historic Preservation, environmental concerns should all be considered. Ignoring local regulations diminishes the health, safety, welfare, and the environment for residents.
The best possible outcome for the island would be if this triggers legislative review of MGL 40B regulations to best fit the community in which it is being proposed. LONG before it gets to the point Surfside Crossing and Nantucket are currently involved.
Nantucket Tipping Point was initially formed by a group of concerned residents to educate for responsible development to protect the long-term sustainability of Nantucket’s finite resources, infrastructure, natural environment and National Historic Landmark Designation by educating and encouraging Nantucket’s residents, visitors, town officials and leadership to do the same.
Town meeting voters have already allocated $75 million taxpayers' dollars to be used for affordable housing initiatives. The citizens of Nantucket are very dedicated to affordable housing efforts. Furthermore, the Selectboard is currently looking at allocating $6.5 million annually for affordable housing initiative. All of those initiatives will include local stakeholders' inputs instead of an unfriendly 40B project like Surfside Crossing.