Town Status on the Rosebay Project
I have been asked enough about the status of the Rosebay project that I thought I would share what I know. Rosebay is the private development proposal for 45 units of senior affordable housing on Medfield Housing Authority land that is directly adjacent to Tilden Village on Pound Street. Rosebay would be all seniors, all rental, and all affordable. The developer is Brian McMillin of NewGate Housing LLC of Westwood, who was selected by the Medfield Housing Authority. Brian McMillin previously worked for Gatehouse, at the time Gatehouse built The Parc in Medfield.
In general, the Board of Selectmen have been pushing to have more affordable housing, especially for seniors, so conceptually I support the Rosebay project.
The town’s active and effective Affordable Housing Trust has been meeting with the Rosebay developer and I understand that the Affordable Housing Trust has been advancing the Rosebay project as part of the town’s solution to our affordable housing needs. I also believe that the Affordable Housing Trust even provided some monies for fees to that developer to advance the project.
The Town of Medfield is in a good spot at the moment with respect to unfriendly 40B proposals because we are currently in a safe harbor, meaning that:
- we have a Housing Production Plan that the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has accepted, and
- we are currently building 21 SHI units per year.
I believe that we have about another year and a half of safe harbor remaining, but we also have several irons in the fire that could extend that time frame.
So as long as we remain in that safe harbor, the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield can turn down any 40B that it does not like on the basis that we are in that safe harbor, and the developer cannot end run the town by appealing for state approval to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) at the DHCD for an approval. The HAC routinely approves any developer’s 40B developments turned down by towns, but the HAC will not overturn a ZBA denial based on our being in a safe harbor, while we continue to be in that safe harbor.
The Board of Selectmen will soon send a letter to Department of Housing and Community Development opining about the suitability of the Rosebay project in general, and we would welcome citizen input as part of our formulation of that letter.
The project is not looking to be a Local Initiative Project (LIP), which is a town endorsed 40B. The need for that town endorsement of a LIP gives the Board of Selectmen a high level of control over any LIP. The Board of Selectmen therefore does not have that same high level of input and control over Rosebay that we would have if it were a LIP.
In this instance the Zoning Board of Appeals will be the main town entity that will deal with the nuts and bolts issues of the Rosebay project, and that will seek to ameliorate the proposed project and its impacts on both the neighbors and the town. The ZBA has even greater than usual control over the Rosebay proposal, because of the fact that we are in a 40B safe harbor, and any ZBA denial should be supported by the HAC.
I am trusting the Zoning Board of Appeals to see that the details are worked out as well as they can be so as to minimize the impacts and effects of the project on the neighbors.