40B follow up


There has been tremendous reaction and interest to the 200 unit 40B that has been proposed, and I have been asked how it can be stopped and/or what the town can do.

The 200 unit proposal will have to go through a rigorous permitting process with the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield, at which time public input is accepted, peer review will likely be required, and reasonable health and safety conditions can be imposed.

In addition to Zoning Board of Appeals approval, the 200 unit proposal has to get ComCon approval, however, the owner was already in before the ConCom within the past month to seek a wetlands delineation, so the project as laid out may well probably comply with the wetland regulations.  When the owner was recently before the ConCom they were not required and did not tell the ConCom the reason for seeking the wetland delineation.

The Zoning Board of Appeals cannot safely turn the 200 unit proposal down, as the applicant then just appeals to the state Housing Appeals Committee and, traditionally, the HAC will just approve the project, perhaps without any of the conditions that the ZBA might impose.  Therefore, the ZBA strategy needs to be to approve the proposal with reasonable conditions related to health and safety sorts of issues, that modify and mitigate its impact, without making it in the terms of the 40B statute “uneconomic.”

Massachusetts General Laws c. 40B creates a conundrum for towns that do not have 10% affordable housing and/or a safe harbor via some other mechanism, namely having either an approved Housing Production Plan and/or devote 1.5% of available land in town to affordable housing.  Even if the town had an approved Housing Production Plan, then the town would still need to build 22 units of affordable housing a year to keep the protection.

Medfield is currently short about 139 units of affordable housing to get to the 10% level, and only about a little more than half way to the 1.5% safe harbor.  Ironically, with the Hospital Road 40B 48 unit condo ownership proposal and the new 200 unit rental proposal, the town would add 212 affordable units, so the town would be way over the 10% level.  For ownership 40B’s the town gets credit only for the actual 25% of the units that are affordable, whereas in a rental projects such as the 200 unit proposal, one gets credit for all the units, even though only 25% are affordable and 75% are market rate units.

A draft Housing Production Plan was prepared a  couple of years ago, and after it left the selectmen with general positive comments it went to the planning board.  I was told the planning board did not like it, although I was never learned why.  The draft Housing Production Plan was then set aside, and only just recently addressed anew.  The planning board started meeting to push forward on both the Housing Production Plan and the necessary plans on how to meet the 10% affordable housing levels – I just attended on 8/8/16 a kickoff and really productive planning board meeting on those topics, at which both the Housing Production Plan and possible affordable housing sites and strategies were discussed in depth.

Interestingly, the main property on the East side of Rte. 27 that is part of the 200 unit proposal had been the  subject of town purchase discussions between the town and the then owner, Mary Solari, after her husband had died, as that site was suggested as a better location for the new public safety building, one that would have saved the town over $500,000 in construction costs because the project would not have to have been phased.  I am informed that at that time, the town was told that Mrs. Solari was not interested in selling, and I am also told that she has since died.


4 responses to “40B follow up

  1. Dear Mr. Peterson,

    I live across the street from the proposed Building 1. I have been in contact with an attorney who specializes in 40B issues. The first thing he did was check with the ConComm. He learned from a Leslie Willard that there were two applications (I presume for the two large plots on either side of Route 27). She indicated that the decisions have not yet been issued, and won’t be until the first meeting (of the ConComm?) in September. Would it be possible to confirm this fact, and when the next meeting will be held on this? Would decisions be issued in some other format? Is there some website we need to be checking? This matters because my understanding is that there is only a 10-day window to appeal any such decision.

    -Brent Nelson


    • Selectman Osler "Pete" Peterson


      Instead of calling me Mr. Peterson, please call me Pete. There were two filings with the ConCom, a Request for Determination of Applicability and an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation. I only happen to have copies because my wife in on the ConCom and shared her copies with me. I will scan and post the filings.

      I do not know about (1) whether a decision has been made, (2) the ConCom meeting dates (they seem to be on Thursdays, as that is when I need to pick up our daughter), (3) decision formats, except that the ones that are shared with the Board of Selectmen are on a form on which blanks are filled in, and (4) the town website should list future ConCom meetings and the agendas at least 48 hours in advance, per the Open Meeting Law. I suggest that you make a request to Lessee Willetts that she notify you when a decision is made, with a copy, as I expect she may well be willing to do so.


    • Selectman Osler "Pete" Peterson


      Both applications seem to be for the same parcel – the one next to the cemetery.


  2. OK, Pete. Thanks for straightening that out! I will contact Lessee and keep my eyes peeled for the meeting announcement.


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