Monthly Archives: August 2016

Town control over speed limits

State-House-smaller_1 (1)

One part of the recently signed Municipal Modernization Act gives towns greater rights with respect to setting speed limits.  Previously the town had limited control over what the speed limit would be, because the town had to set speed limits at what 85% of the drivers were going, which was usually higher than the town wanted.  this is the new provision:

Local Speed Limits / Safety Zones (Sections 193-194)
Provides municipalities with flexibility around the establishment of speed limits. Cities and towns can now establish a speed limit of 25 MPH on any roadway inside a thickly settled or business district on any way that is not a state highway. It also allows for the creation of designated safety zones on, at, or near any way in the city or town that is not a state highway, and with the approval of MassDOT if the same is a state highway.  Such safety zones would have a posted speed limit of 20 MPH.

More on the mega-40B

Chris McCue just asked:

More questions for Pete Peterson, Sarah Raposa or someone else in the know:…if we approve the Building Production Plan before this project gets permitted (and/or reach our requirement for # of units), will it stop or delay this Dale Street 40B project? Also, if we need far fewer than 200 units to meet our affordable housing quota, does that mean this project is automatically capped at that number (which I believe to be significantly lower)? Does the housing production plan need to be voted on by residents at a town meeting, or just approved by Selectmen and/or Planning Board? There also looks to be a historic home that may be affected by the project — with a 40B is the town allowed to impose its 18-month demolition delay if the home is found to be historically significant, or do we lose that power to protect historic structures too?

I do not claim to be “in the know,” which is reflected in how few of the questions I can answer, but I am at least available:

  • I do not know the answer to the Housing Production Plan timing issue, but rest assured it is on my mind, as the Housing Production Plan is virtually ready to be filed.
  • I understand that the Housing Production Plan only needs the approval of the Board of Selectmen and the planning board, not town meeting approval. 
  • I also do not know how a demolition delay of a historic home effects a 40B application.

Mega-40B update


I have seen much more discussion about the mega-40B and questions have been posed to me, so while not a 40B expert, I will try to share what I do know and have learned in my readings.  Plus I own a copy of Mark Brobowski’s Handbook of Massachusetts Land Use and Planning Law, from which I can reference things.

Christian Donner asked about the infrastructure impacts and whether the state, in the form of the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), which would review any permit denial by our ZBA and/or any conditional approval that allegedly made the project uneconomic, would take those into account.  Brobrowski states in his book:

“Boards of appeals denying or approving comprehensive permits with conditions almost invariably fall back on well-worn planning arguments as a justification.  Almost invariably, the HAC rejects such contentions.  Some of the local concerns that have been repeatedly adjudicated before the HAC include:
•    school crowding
•    drainage
•    traffic
•    sewers
•    water provisions
•    noise
•    site accessibility
•    inconsistency with local plans
•    environmental degradation
•    open space
•    density
For all practical purposes, the burden of proof for the board of appeals is set forth in 760 CMR 31.07(2)(b).  The natural environment must be “endangered”; design of the site or the proposed housing must be “seriously deficient”; and open spaces must be “critically needed.”  Only in the rare case will the local planning concerns outweigh the regional housing need.  In such cases, the board’s decision to deny or approve a comprehensive permit with conditions that render the project uneconomic will be upheld by the HAC.”

In Bobrowski’s book, each of these items has a footnote to the cases that underlie those statements, and as with all legal issues, one must know both the statues, the regulations, and the cases interpreting both, to really know the law.  One case that I read that indicates the level of expense the town in expected to absorb, stated that it is not a reason to deny a 40B development because the town has to build a new waste water treatment plant – indicating the high level of expense that the state is willing to impose on the community hosting the 40B.

Karen Scotti questioned the water supply to service the new housing, and I do not know the answer to that question, except that I do see that Bobrowski seems to indicate that is not a basis, citing Groton Hous. Auth. v. Groton Zoning Board of Appeals, HAC Dec. at 5-6  (Sept. 19, 1991).   What I have been told by Mike Sullivan is that our aquifer actually has a plenty of water, but the still DEP limits the amount that we can take out via permits because of various regional factors, such as wanting greater water flow in the Charles River.  One of my first ideas on how to reduce our property taxes was actually for the town to sell our water, where we had so much – Mike said the town cannot go into such businesses, and that was before I knew the DEP limited what we pumped out of the ground.  I attended a meeting of municipal officials about 10-15 years ago, hosted by the DEP and the Charles River Water Shed Association, at which both groups advocated for towns to limit resident water usage to 60 gallons per person per day (we were at 90, and as I understand the issue would basically have to forego lawn watering to get to 60) because the Charles River had pond fish in it instead of river fish – they were saying because the river needed greater flow, that we should use less water.  Those in attendance, with greater knowledge than I pointed to the dams on the river, the years of recorded data on water flows in the Charles showing no lessening in the amount of that flow, and a study that had been done in Connecticut on the issue that pointed to the dams as the reason the river fish had disappeared.

Shawn Collins questioned infrastructure improvements installed by The Parc, and it is my understanding, as Shawn said, that the developer did pay for the off site school bus stop and the new sidewalk.  It is also my understanding from discussions with town counsel that such extractions must be closely connected with the site itself for the extractions to be legally upheld.  I did hear Chief Kingsbury make the point that his ladders could not reach the tops of the proposed buildings at The Parc, but I never learned how that issue was resolved.

I had once suggested that the town should make any new developments basically pay for the existing town infrastructure, essentially to buy in for what prior residents have already paid, and I learned that was constitutionally prohibited in Massachusetts – I have been told that other state do allow such a buy in requirement.  The City of Boston seems to have linkage payment requirements that require developers to contribute monies.

If there is interest, I will try to arrange for the town to hold an information meeting to inform residents about the mega-40B and the town’s options.

Rte. 27 lines – more

I was working backwards through my emails, and had not gotten to this one from THE Chief about the lines when I posted.

The current line painting company is going out of business. DPW Director Mo Goulet and I are meeting with a new potential company this morning…..Chief

Rte. 27 traffic lines

rte 27

There have been concerns expressed over the workmanship of the recent Rte. 27 line painting, and today I was asked about it, so I queried Chief Meaney.  The Medfield Police Department is responsible for the line painting of streets in town for some historic reason, a responsibility that I have heard may soon get shifted over to the DPW.

The Chief responded that :

Actually just met with the line painting company. The situation is going to be corrected.

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.


DPW status

DPW sign
Selectmen got a memo this week from our new Director of Public Works with a status report.


TO:          Board of Selectmen
Michael Sullivan, Town Administrator
Kristine Trierweiler, Assistant Town Administrator

FROM:      Maurice G. Goulet, Director of Public Works

DATE:      August 17, 2016

SUBJECT:      Department of Public Works Update

The following is a list of current updates on projects and tasks relating to the Department of Public Works:

•    The Medfield State Hospital Water Storage Tank Project is nearing completion. DEP has sent written notification (email) that the Town has the approval to put Tank on-line.

“MassDEP has received your written construction certification and request to put the Hospital Road tank on line and is also in receipt of the bacteria and VOC sampling data.  MassDEP has reviewed this data and hereby authorizes the Town of Medfield permission to put the Hospital Tank on line.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at (508) 767-2738.
Margo Webber”

Tank has been put on-line and appears to be functioning properly.  The Water Division will continue to monitor the levels and the operation closely in the coming days/weeks.

•    The rail lines and ties are scheduled to be removed from the Harding Street railroad crossing in the coming weeks. Temporary paving was placed over the rails recently for the Pan Mass Challenge Bike Race participants due to uneven and rough terrain.  Awaiting the MBTA’s final approval.

•    The Water Restrictions have been increased to a one day per week watering (Mondays for odd numbered houses, Thursdays for even). Because of the severity of the existing drought conditions, we will be assisting the Police Dept. in handing out tickets/fines as needed. These tickets for the offenses will begin as warnings to the residents that continue to water during unauthorized times. We will then further explain the severity of the situation (the need for fire protection, drinking water for the community and the need to follow regulations set by DEP). Recently there has been meetings from the Drought management Task Force that have elevated our drought status to a “Drought Watch”. The following criteria are recommended in a Drought Watch area.

Regions in Drought Watch:  Moderate drought conditions
    Outdoor watering should be limited to “handheld” with a hose or a watering can after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. (to avoid evaporative losses).
    Restrict outdoor watering with irrigation systems and sprinklers.
    Watering of municipal parks and recreation fields with irrigation systems and sprinklers may continue, at the water supplier’s discretion, before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
    Filling swimming pools, washing cars and washing buildings should be prohibited.
•    The Medfield Salt Bid with 25 participating towns will be going out for advertisement. The tentative bid opening for salt and chemicals will be September 28th.

•    At the WWTP our staff has pumped out a couple of the aeration tanks for maintenance. They are in the process of changing out approximately 700 diaphragms that are 13 yrs. old.  The average life of these parts vary from 10-15 yrs. This will provide better circulation in these tanks.

•    Route 27 (North Meadows Road) project from the Medfield town line to West Street has been completed.  The final paving, backing up the roadway edges with material and hydro-seeding the unpaved shoulders has taken place. The police are in the process of completing the traffic markings in this section.

•    The Highway Division has been maintaining multiple roads in town by milling (grinding) sections of roadways that have deteriorated and then paving those sections to make the roadways safer and have an improved driving surface in preparation for the upcoming winter months.

New 200 unit 40B


Yikes!  The newly proposed 40B  on both sides of Rte. 27 at Dale Street is 200 rental units, in buildings 3-5 stories tall – this from Sarah Raposa after her meeting this morning with the developers.  Click here for the plans

Planning Board and Board of Selectmen members –

I met with the development team for the proposed 40B at Dale St/Rt 27 this morning. The developers also did Leland Farm in Sherborn. Attached please find the plans for a 200 unit rental project. As proposed:
  • 25% affordable and 75% market rate
  • Two buildings
    • Building 1 – 110 units would be located at 39/41 Dale Street (3.285 ac)
    • Building 2 – 90 Units would be located at 49 Dale Street (2.957 ac)
  • 3-5 stories with underground and surface parking
  • Building 1 access/egress from North Meadows & Dale, with additional egress on North Meadows (plus two pedestrian connections to John Crowder and Joseph Pace)
  • Building 2 access/egress from Dale St
Obviously this density is shocking and there is a lot to review. I will be setting up a meeting with town departments for September so everyone has an opportunity to review and provide early comments on this. I’ll keep you posted.

Sarah Raposa, AICP

Town Planner

More BoS items for tonight


These agenda additions arrived this afternoon –

  1. Sarah Raposa had a request to meet with a party that want’s to discuss locating a 40B on both sides of North Meadows Road (27) at Dale St. The properties consist of about 6 acres, roughly 3 acres on each side of North Meadows Rd. She agreed to meet with the caller at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning at the town hall. The properties are or were owned by Monac, Solari and Moser. Don’t know any more about this proposal.


  1. Letter from resident concerning Conservation Commission meeting on LCB. I believe you should have a copy of this.


  1. Request from William Tragagis. owner of 23 acre parcel of land off North St. (Harmony Farm) for decision from Selectmen as to whether Town would be interested in exercising its option under Chapter 61A to purchase the land. Listed under executive session as discussion might include land price, which could affect negotiations, if the Town decided to exercise its option.


  1. The new water tower was scheduled to go into service today.


  1. The water ban postcards have returned from their extended stay in New Jersey and were delivered in yesterday’s mail.


Sorry to take so long getting back to you but the elevator broke again. Hopefully it will be fixed by tonight.


Postcard update

water ban-2

Email from Mike today –

Hadn’t heard from postmaster since yesterday so I called him and he told me that the postcards are coming in in small batches, which he assumes means that they went to New Jersey. He said that they will go back to Brockton and Brockton will forward them to Medfield. As of this morning, he said that he had received about 200 postcards and was sending them out as soon as they were received. Could take several days. He thinks that the small batches means that a machine sorting the postcards somehow got them separated. I don’t know if that means some were destroyed and won’t be delivered.  The state was supposed to meet yesterday to consider upping the water ban to a higher level but no word yet on that. Pumping is down so that most people are trying to reduce consumption. People are calling in to report violators, so that should help. That’s it for now. Have a good weekend and keep cool. Mike S