Last night I attended the first quarter of Big Blue’s basketball playoff game, and the 40B informational meeting. There was a huge turn out for the latter, as I would estimate that the Middle School auditorium was half to 2/3 full for the 40B meeting. The basketball game did have a both a larger and noisier crowd, if not a better outcome.
It was a truly impressive citizen turn out for the 40B meeting, and I thank all who attended for their interest and commitment to a major town issue. Town counsel, Mark Cerel, ran the meeting, and was ably assisted by knowledgeable municipal law attorneys Barbara St. Andre of Pettrini Associates of Framingham and former Medfield resident, Jason (Jay) Talerman of Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead, L.L.C. of Millis.
The three attorneys explained and laid out the legal background of 40B, the processes by which 40B projects get permitted, and the options open to towns when presented by a 40B project. Representative Denise Garlick told the forum that she has no position on the pending 40B, contrary to press reports, and that $15,000 of consultant monies are available by state grant. She had previously reported to me after her investigation of the grants, that it is “highly likely” that Medfield would get those grant monies if we applied. In a light moment, attorney Talerman, who grew up in Medfield, said that despite his age that he still had to address his former Medfield High School teacher as “Mr. DeSorgher,” when Richard DeSorgher questioned the validity of arguing against the 40B proposal due to the loss of the industrially zoned land. Representatives of Gatehouse, the company proposing to build a 96 unit 40B complex on West Street attended, but did not want to address the meeting.
After the attorneys exhausted everyone’s questions about 40B, they turned the podium over to the Board of Selectmen and Bill Massaro for a quick update about the status of the Medfield State Hospital reuse and clean up. The state is starting up a new feasibility study to determine what uses can be made of the site as part of the fresh look at alternatives, and there continues to be a basic disagreement between the state and the town over whether the clean up of the C & D area waste can be accomplished by the state’s proposed cap and cover versus the town’s suggested removal.
My wife Deb told me this morning that the electronic sign board was still in front of the Town House this morning advertising a 40B meeting “this evening” so perhaps people will show up again tonight.
Next steps –
1 – At the last Board of Selectmen meeting I proposed that the Board of Selectmen initiate the appointment of a resident study committee to look into what the town should be doing about our affordable housing and to report back with a suggested action plan for the town. Ann and Mark wanted to consider that proposal. If they do agree to move forward with that idea, then we will be looking for volunteers to serve.
2 – Also, it seems to me that it would be easy to get town agreement on building a Tilden Village extension on the land next to Tilden Village, so we should start to explore that possibility right away. The current Medfield Housing Authority board chair and executive director have both expressed a willingness to talk about doing so, and I will reach out to begin discussions with them on how that could be done.
First off, thank you for providing the continual flow of Medfield information on your blog. I have some questions that I have not yet read an answer to. I realize that 40B is allowed to trump local zoning regulations until Medfield hits a 10% affordable housing inventory; with our current inventory of affordable housing around 4%, would the proposed project on West St get us anywhere near 10%. Would the West st project and a possible expansion of Tilden Village get us to 10%? In my mind, there is a desire to get to 10% before the State Hospital can possibly use 40B to aid in their redevelopment. Also, isn’t there some kind of time exclusion on the need to keep a 40B affordable? Once a project hits that time limit, does it then drop off the list of affordable inventory? If this is true, won’t Medfield always be chasing the elusive 10% affordable housing threshold?
I was talking with Mike Sullivan about that very question this morning, as to just now many affordable housing units we need to add to get to the 10% threshold. I suggested to him that someone should be computing that number anew, so we are working off of accurate figures, and Mike was going to have that done. Until now I have been using the 256 affordable units that we had built in to the Medfield State Hospital project as a rough measure of how short we are.
I do not have a good number as to how many units would fit on the land by Tilden, but probably not enough to get us over the 10%, even with 96 units on West Street. So, with those numbers in mind, we would still need to be doing some other thing or things to get over 10%. Town owned land creates some opportunities/possibilities.
My sense is that some affordable housing can time out as you suggest, but that others will not – this is not an area in which I have expertise. I am told that Wilkins Glen is built on land that is zoned for single family residential use, so that where it does not comply with the underlying zoning, that it will not ever time out. I believe that is based on the case involving the Ardemore complex on Cedar Street in Wellesley that I pass each day on my commute to Newton. BTW, the current owner of Wilkins Glen just recently rewrote their financing and in any case committed to keeping it affordable for 30 more years.
So most of the affordable housing that currently exists in Medfield (i.e. – Wilkins Glen, Tilden Village, Allendale, and Turtle Brook) will remain as affordable housing. We just need to make sure that any that gets built also gets locked in to remaining affordable as well, so that today’s apartment complex does not time out as you posit, and get morphed into condos.
BTW #2, I suggested at the last meeting of the Board of Selectmen that we appoint a citizen committee to study how to meet our affordable housing threshold. Ann and Mark wanted time to consider the idea.