I responded this morning to an email from Pound Street neighbors of the proposed Rosebay project to both me and Sarah Raposa, Town Planner, and I thought others might be interested in that response, which follows.
Sarah will know this landscape better than I, but I will share what I know and my current thinking.
The current step calls for the Board of Selectmen to make a submission to Department of Housing and Community Development about the appropriateness of the site for the project, which is an initial determination that DHCD must make for the developer to move forward to the real permitting phase, which is the application for a comprehensive permit before the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield. It is really before the ZBA where the decisions will get made as to all the details of the sorts of land use issues that you are raising as concerns will get addressed and decided. The ZBA will undoubtedly be seeking neighborhood input into what it should decide, and I encourage you to be involved in that process. It is usually an iterative process over many meetings, spread over many months, as the developer will submit detailed plans and the town will hire, at the applicant’s expense, its own peer review engineers and other experts to analyze those plans and to make recommendations to the ZBA on the developer’s submission.
At this stage, DHCD is merely issuing a preliminary yes or no as to whether the proposed project is appropriate enough to the site so as to be allowed to proceed to the comprehensive permit filing process. You may recall that the 200 unit proposed 40B at the intersection of Rte. 27 and Dale Street was denied site approval by DHCD at a similar stage, in what all said at the time was a highly unusual denial. It is my understanding that almost all proposed 40B’s receive DHCD approval to move forward to the comprehensive permit stage.
To date, the Board of Selectmen has generally been in favor of expanding the senior housing at that site, but to date has not weighed in on the current proposal.
However, I can share with you my thoughts on your particular issues (in the red):
- The proposed development is inconsistent with the character of the residential aspects of the neighborhood. I say this because the proposed structure is a single, three- story building on a relatively small site. A three-story building will dwarf the homes on the opposite side of Pound Street and the adjacent homes on the same side of the street. Tilden Village is far more consistent with the character of the neighborhood. — I would prefer to see a two story structure. However, I do understand the benefits of such a building for seniors to be in one large building instead of the many smaller buildings as was done at Tilden.
- Light pollution from the development. — I have learned from my involvement with the Medfield Energy Committee and its study of converting the town to LED streetlights that light from LED’s can be directed, so as to prevent such light pollution into neighbors lands.
- Potential traffic impacts on a street that is already congested in the mornings and afternoons due to traffic associated with the school campus. — Yes, agreed. I do not see a way around the traffic issue. Traffic studies will likely be required, done, and peer reviewed, but more housing units means more traffic.
- The apartments are not affordable in perpetuity. — I thought that they would have continued protection, but if that is not possible, then I would still favor doing the project is we can get a good number of years of such units for seniors.
- Whether Medfield senior residents are likely to qualify for these affordable apartments. — I do not know when one can build local preferences in and when one cannot, but even if we cannot with this particular project, these units will assist a lot of local seniors. I expect the ZBA will build in whatever local preference is allowed.
This project is being planned by Brian McMillin, who formerly worked with Gatehouse when Gatehouse developed The Parc on West Street, and if Rosebay is build, the plans say that it would be managed by Gatehouse. Therefore, I would expect Rosebay to both look and operate much as The Parc has. From my recent inquiries of those who live directly across West Street from the Parc, I have learned that those people have found The Parc to be a problem free neighbor.