Letters to the Editor

Zoning Redesignations Needed

Dear Editor,

My name is Stephen and I am a residential sales agent and residential development consultant based out of Winthrop. My home is located in Precinct 6, so issues related to zoning and development along Winthrop Shore Drive and Shirley Street are at the forefront of my thoughts. This week, I had the distinct pleasure of joining development, zoning, and financial experts from across the country at the BisNow Summit on the federal Opportunity Zone Program that took place at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. In short, this program designates certain tracts of land within communities and offers intense tax benefits for any commercial investment made within those tracts. Qualifying uses include residential rental apartments.

The purpose of the program is to incentivize investors to help communities reach their development goals. In an ideal world, the Opportunity Zone designated for Winthrop would have been the Center Business District and the Middle School site. This, however, is not the case. A tract of land that includes Shore Drive, Cottage Hill, Point Shirley, and Deer Island was chosen. When I came home, I took a closer look at the zoning designations for this area. Most of the tract is strictly zoned “R1” which only allows single and multi-family homes. There is a small commercial district along Shirley. This makes any outside investment very unlikely, as there is only a very small space in which any qualifying uses would be permitted.

I write today to encourage the Town of Winthrop to explore efficient and immediate zoning redesignations within this tract of land. It is my understanding that any qualifying investments need to be made by 2026. As we all know, the rate at which zoning changes is extremely slow. If we have any hope of capturing any benefits from this program, we’ve got to act now. Opportunity Zone Funds are being formed from coast to coast, and savvy investors are looking for tracts of land that are pre-zoned to meet the program requirements. Let us not miss another opportunity to see real progress for Winthrop.

Stephen C. Hines

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