Northampton residents file lawsuit for not being notified about affordable housing in neighborhood

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Residents in the Florence section of Northampton claim they weren’t properly notified by the city about changes to an affordable housing plan in their neighborhood. 

“They said they would take our questions under consideration and get back to us,” Stephen Callahan told 22News. “Then they kind of disappeared like a stealth jet. We never heard from them again.” 

Callahan said he and his neighbors were notified about early meetings regarding moving affordable housing units planned for a mixed development – Emmerson Way, to Burts Bog on Burts Pitt Road, which is his street. 

Callahan added, “About 60 people attended, and they were very upset about the density that was going into this project.” 

But the planning department said under the special permit they granted in 2017, the properties have the right to be clustered. 

“What that allows is for development to be clustered in a smaller portion of an overall larger property for the purpose of permanently protecting open space,” said Carolyn Misch, senior planner of the city of Northampton. “So, then the units are located in one portion of the property, and the rest of it is open space.” 

The company that initially designed the Emmerson Way project is no longer the owner. Calls to the current manager of the project to ask about the decision to move affordable units to Burts Bog were not returned by news time.  

Misch said residents filed a lawsuit claiming they were not properly notified about subsequent meetings to grant a special permit to move the units to Burt’s Bog. Barry Roth, one of the plaintiffs, said after a judge didn’t rule in the resident’s favor, the decision is still under appeal. 

“I said but that’s the law, if it is defective, you have to reopen the hearing, but he just dismissed it,” said Roth. “So, I filed in court, appeals court in Boston, that has heard all the evidence and now is in the midst of making a decision.” 

Roth hopes a judge will rule in their favor and reopen the hearing on moving the units to Burt’s Bog. 

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