Board of Selectmen
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Present: Selectmen Michael Marcucci, Selectmen Gustave Murby, Selectmen Osler Peterson,
Kristine Trierweiler, Mark Cerel
Meeting was called to order at 4:00.
Chairman Peterson read the meeting objectives and agenda into the record. He disclosed that he is not ethically allowed to discuss matter relating to Lot 3 and Hinkley but can discuss the State Hospital property. Selectman Murby shared his impressions from the Senior Housing forum from earlier this fall and wanted people to know what is proposed for senior housing in the MSH plan.
Mr. Centore expressed concern that there has been no representation from MSHMPC at the Senior Housing Study Committee’s meetings.
Mr. Nolan reviewed the status of the draft MSH master plan and uses for Lot 3, Hinkley, Core Campus and cottages, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). He noted unit counts and timing concerns.
An audience member asked about CCRCs and the ability to amend the draft plan at this stage in the planning process. Mr. Nolan responded that the plan spells out the range of units and locations. There are 16-20 units proposed at Hinkley and 42 on Lot 3. There are a number of dedicated senior units at the Core Campus of the over 200 units proposed at the Core Campus. He was unsure of the number of units for the CCRC.
Another audience member asked about the MSHMPC surveys. Mr. Nolan described the mix of uses and types of residential units that are proposed. Chairman Peterson noted that the decision will be up to the residents of the Town at a town meeting, hopefully in March 2018. The audience member is concerned that surrounding towns are building senior units but not Medfield even though they have been paying the same taxes. Not enough work has been done for seniors.
Jerry Kazanjian requests that a special town meeting be scheduled immediately. Chairman Peterson responded that there are a number of complicated steps to do before a meeting may be confirmed.
Selectman Marcucci indicated that he would like to see Hinkley go to ATM but there are disposition and legal issues that need to be settled. He believes it is possible to make Hinkley work for at least 16 units of senior housing but the process is heavily regulated. He updated the group on the expansion of Tilden Village. He summarized the work that the Affordable Housing Trust is doing to produce Local Initiative Program units. The 40B process and local preferences were discussed.
Mr. Centore stated that the Senior Housing Study Committee (SHSC) survey indicates that the MSHMPC’s plan does not include as many as are needed. He prefers that the Town donate, not sell the land, in order to keep the prices low.
Selectman Murby believes that Lot 3 should be commercial and asked how do we drive down the cost of living in Medfield? He discussed topics such as: the diversification of the tax base; the SHSC report says that seniors want to be downtown; affordable housing versus community housing; 40B subsidy versus market rate; equity; and buying versus renting at older ages.
Selectman Marcucci asked the seniors to not discount 40B even if they feel like they don’t qualify for. We are trying to course direct the market for other types of housing in Medfield. There are differences between developing Town-owned land and private properties.
Lee Treadway said that taxes have gone up 30% in the last 5 years. He described the situation where a senior would sell their house but there is no place for them to go because everything in Medfield is so expensive. Chairman Peterson described the town meeting process and the predominance of single-family homes in Medfield and agreed that there aren’t many other options for housing types. He would like to see more choices but the Town can’t be the developer.
Mr. Wolfe asked if there was a better way to validate the need for housing types. Chairman Peterson said that 400 seniors would provide a statistically significant survey for Medfield. Mr. Wolfe thought it could be done for about $20,000. Selectman Murby agreed that the Board needs a survey to more accurately define senior housing needs. He stated that they are in the process of defining goals and overarching priorities for the town and would welcome feedback on them.
Mr. Centore spoke about removing Lot 3 from the MSHMPC charge and the need for a new 40S provision. Chairman Peterson clarified that he’s not referring to the existing state statute for school children but creating a new “s” for seniors. He further spoke about density being able to reduce costs. He agreed that rentals might be a good option for seniors.
Selectmen Marcucci indicated that Lot 3 and Hinkley will be handled sooner than the Campus. Authorization for disposition will need to be secured for Hinkley but it already exists for Lot 3. Mr. Centore asked about funding. Selectman Murby and expressed concern about selling Town land, the price, and having control in the product.
Attorney Cerel discussed the submitted petitioned articles and the disposition and legal issues associated with them.
Mr. Kazanjian is glad that Lot 3 and Hinkley are being focused on but thinks that we need to get started on the Campus and that the SHSC should issue an RFP for 120 units of senior housing next year. Chairman Peterson said that the process is extremely long. Selectmen Marcucci said that they can petition for what they want but disagrees with the statement that the MSHMPC doesn’t have their act together. He says the process is complicated and they are trying their best to come up with a plan for the 12,000 residents of Medfield. There are a lot of people with a lot of different interests in the process. Today’s meeting on senior housing is just for one of those interests. Selectman Murby has been to at least ¾ of the MSHMPC meetings and the complexity is not to be disregarded. It is a $500 million real estate project being worked on by dedicated citizens. The infrastructure cost to the Town is in the tens of million dollar range. He recommends that Mr. Kazanjian go to the preferred concept and figure out a way to put definition to the concept and add momentum. Chairman Peterson also appreciates the Committee’s work.
Lou Felini believes that the Town is chasing tails on housing. Seniors are asking for recognition. Seniors only get 27 cents on each dollar as 73% goes to the schools. They built this town. Lou asked the Board to stop the tax increases for seniors so seniors can live in this Town for the rest of their lives.
Chairman Peterson mentioned the movement in Sudbury to provide relief for seniors but the state constitution requires everyone pay the same taxes.
Patricia Treadway applauds the effort to figure out the complicated issue. She agrees that seniors should consider rentals. 67 North Street turned out very nice. She supports more apartments, condos, and assisted living options.
Selectmen Marcucci discussed the town budget and the reliance on residential taxes. Chairman Peterson stated that housing can be profitable but it would not be affordable.
Mr. Kazanjian stated that the Hospital plan can include commercial to diversity of tax base to offset residential taxes. Chairman Peterson noted that the plan includes too much commercial for the market. Mr. Nolan continued to say that commercial space is included at a higher amount than they are being told may be possible.
Mr. Nolan reviewed the streamlined process of 40R zoning for the campus and Lot 3 and Hinkley to dispose of and develop quickly. Lot 3 and Hinkley can be started before the campus. Same is true of the Cottage Area as it requires less infrastructure and can be developed more swiftly.
Mr. Centore would like to see examples of floor plans, price points, and features of the homes to get more seniors excited about it. Selectman Murby responded that the MSHMPC is a planning committee but the one that comes after the MSHMPC next year is a development committee.
Brandie Erb described the master plan, zoning, and design guidelines. She discussed the timing and complexity of the plan.
Patty Foscaldo asked about building demolition. Brandie Erb discussed the MOU regarding the historic preservation and demolition. Ms. Foscaldo stated that we are nowhere because we don’t know which buildings are coming down. She asked when that will be determined despite the length of time the committee has been working on the project. She also asked about nursing homes. Mr. Nolan described the CCRC model which includes the spectrum of independent, assisted, and nursing. He clarified the process that has the committee putting out the preferences and the responses from the development community. The process is slow but there are many disparate objectives (nothing, senior housing, arts, housing for millennials) needs to be distilled into a 2/3rds votes at town meeting. There is frustration on all sides. They are trying to finalize the plan and financials.
Mr. Wolfe stated that he would like to see the SHSC work with the MSHMPC rather than beat them up in order to create actions. He commends the quality of the work, not the timeframe but he believes they are getting close. He noted that the plan is not only about seniors, it is a balanced view. He also is supporting of an updated survey and action on Lot 3.
In closing, Chairman Peterson asked for a show of hands to gauge preferences:
- Rental consideration
- Multi-story building with elevator (over 3 stories)
- Downtown versus Hospital
Rich Ryder asked about the survey that Selectman Murby spoke about. The Board agreed it is worthwhile and will work on what that survey solicitation will look like for review at their 12/19/17 meeting.
An audience member asked what the Selectmen can do to make things more affordable. Selectman Murby reiterated his earlier points. The speaker prefers to stay where he is with a lower tax rate.
Mr. Kazanjian disagrees about the Selectmen’s survey.
The meeting adjourned at 6:00 pm.