Responsible 40B development in Medway

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Members of the ZBA,

You have a difficult task in front of you in reviewing and conditioning the Timber Crest 40B application.  Providing affordable housing is a laudable goal but needs to be balanced with protecting the existing community, natural resources, and ensuring that any burden created by the development is not unfairly born by any individual party.  

Concerns and Comments are as follows:

1.      In the most recent 4/19/2017 ZBA meeting, Timber Crest expressed they would be unwilling to remove lots because they were concerned with losing additional lots during the subsequent Notice of Intent phase with the Conservation Commission which is likely to follow the ZBA process.  The Zoning board should not be concerned with what may or may not be determined or negotiated during the next stage of the process.  The ZBA should make decisions based on what is currently being submitted, in the best interest of the town.

2.      The current plan set incorrectly identifies a perennial stream as intermittent on the eastern portion.  The proper designation of the stream could make several lots unbuildable.  If a comprehensive permit is to be issued for the project, we recommend a condition that protects the respective lots unless the developer is able to prove the stream is in fact not perennial.

3.      If a comprehensive permit is to be issued for the project, we recommend a condition that prohibits building on lots 73, 74, and 75 (eastern portion).  Building on these lots would provide an abrupt transition from 1 acre residential zoning to a high-density development, uncharacteristic of the existing surroundings.  Additionally, any structures built on lots 73 and 74 would create an excessive burden on the existing 21 Fairway Lane property, given its close proximity to the project border, and the fact it is already burdened by one of the proposed access roadways for the eastern side of the development.  It is worth noting this proposed roadway is slated to replace the existing driveway for this residence. 

 4.      It is recommended that the eastern side ‘cell block’ set of lots (91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, and 98) be broken up by eliminating, at a minimum, lots 93 and 94.  The current plan creates 17 abutters to the existing 167 Holliston Street property.  Lots 93 and 94 could be turned into open space to address the recreational needs caused by the tiny lots in this area of the development, while simultaneously reducing the burden on the 167 Holliston Street property.

5.      Proposed sewage lift stations behind Fairway Lane are located adjacent to wetlands and streams that feed directly into Lake Winthrop in Holliston, a popular recreation area utilized for fishing and swimming.  The ZBA should ensure that if the project is approved, conditions are in place to ensure that the proposed homeowner’s association will be able to adequately maintain and upgrade the respective equipment (pumps, generators, fuel storage containers, etc.) in the years to come to ensure there are no contamination issues in this highly sensitive area.  This maintenance / liability should not be allowed to become a future burden to the town.

6.      While the developer’s proposed changes to Holliston Street to improve sight distance address an existing condition and will benefit the area as a whole, it cannot be overlooked that the proposed Timber Crest development and respective access roadway at this location will still make an existing hazardous location that much more treacherous.  If a comprehensive permit is to be issued for this project, we strongly recommend it be conditioned such that no work on the eastern side of the development be allowed to commence unless the developer’s current proposed changes to Holliston Street are completed in full.

7.      If a comprehensive permit is to be issued for the project, we recommend a condition that upholds a 30ft wide green belt wherever the project abuts other residential or residentially zoned property as specified in Medway’s “Rules and Standards for Comprehensive Permit Applications Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40B” dated 9/20/2004.  On a project of this size, providing at a minimum a 30ft green buffer should not be an issue.

 Final Thoughts:

The concept of economic feasibility comes up often in 40B projects.  Timber Crest is in effect threading a needle in their attempt to develop all of the uplands located on a very wet property (eastern portion).  While the ZBA cannot impose restrictions to make a project economically unfeasible, it also is not responsible for the business decisions of the developer.  The ZBA needs to balance the interests of affordable housing, environmental impact, rights of abutters, and the community as whole.  Removing the previously identified lots and providing a modest buffer to any direct abutters is a reasonable compromise.  If the profitability of a project this large (~150 homes!) hinges on whether or not a hand full of lots are removed or not, one needs to question whether Timber Crest is capable of taking on the project in the first place.  We think it should be noted that this project could easily be feasible as well as profitable at a much smaller scale.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these items while reviewing / conditioning the Timber Crest 40b application.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizens of Medway

 



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