Selectmen to consider new 180-unit 40B development in Flagg Road area – TONIGHT

by susan on January 22, 2013

Southborough developer William Depietri of Capital Group Properties will go before the Board of Selectmen tonight to share details of his plan to build 180 apartment-style condominium units on a parcel of land located behind the Red Roof Inn near the intersection of Routes 9 and 495.

According to a letter Depietri sent to the town, the development, to be called The Residences at Park Central, would be a mix of one-bedroom units (60) and two-bedroom units (120) spread over five separate buildings. Forty-five would be deemed affordable under state guidelines. The development would be built on just over 25 acres of currently undeveloped land that is zoned industrial.

The inclusion of the affordable housing units qualifies the project for 40B consideration. If the project is approved by Mass Housing, its 40B status would enable Depietri to bypass certain zoning restriction related to density and other factors.

In his letter (which you can read for yourself here – scroll through to page 16), Depietri said his plan includes a new access/egress road onto Flagg Road, and that has some neighbors concerned. Area residents tell me they fear the new road will increase traffic in an area that is already overburdened and unsafe.

Neighbors in the past have vigorously resisted large developments in this same area. Some of you might remember back in 2006 Braintree-based developer Bill Flately, who owns the land behind the Red Roof Inn, proposed a 500-unit mixed use development there. The plan was ultimately abandoned.

If Depietri’s project is approved, it would make for the second large 40B development in the immediate area. Construction of Madison Place, a 140-unit 40B apartment complex, began this summer just down Route 9 at Crystal Pond Road.

Selectmen tonight will hear more about Depietri’s plan. While the board does not have the authority to approve or reject a 40B proposal, they do get to weigh in with their opinion. In a letter to Chairman John Rooney, a representative from Mass Housing said, “As part of our review, we are soliciting comments from the local community and we would appreciate your input…Your comments will be considered as part of our review.”

The Board of Selectmen meeting starts at 6:30 pm tonight at the Hearing Room on the second floor of the Town House. The 40B agenda item is scheduled for 7:00 pm. The meeting is open to the public. You can see the complete agenda here.

{ 20 comments }

1 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Can anyone tell me if the Town submitted a request to Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development to certify compliance with our approved HPP? This should have been done after the previous 40B was approved.

2 Pat Q. January 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Flagg road is within walking distance of both Trottier Middle School and
Fay School. The area is already quite busy during the regular school year
as well as during summer months to accommodate summer camp programs.
The summer camp programs, in fact, already impact Rt. 85….I’ve seen it backed up
quite a bit along Rt. 85 between the traffic light and summer camp traffic (with camps hosted at Woodward, Fay and St. Marks).

Too much congestion. If we have already met our compliance with 40B housing (I would hope so, as Tim’s post above it referring to) why do we continue to build?

3 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

We are only at 7.4%, needing to get to 10%. This new development will give 45 more units, leaving about another 42 units until we reach the standard.

But if our HPP had been recently certified (as you’d expect after a major 40B approval like what happened last July), then we’d have a 2-year freeze on 40Bs. I’d really like to know if we have that.

4 susan January 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Tim, forgive my ignorance, but what is an HPP?

5 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Housing Production Plan (HPP) – means an affordable housing plan adopted by a municipality and approved by the Department, defining certain annual increases in its number of SHI Eligible Housing units. See 760 CMR 56.03(4).

DHCD: http://www.mass.gov/hed/community/40b-plan/housing-production-plan.html

Southborough HDD: http://www.mass.gov/hed/docs/dhcd/cd/pp/soutboro.pdf

6 Pat Q. January 22, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Thanks Tim. Here are a couple of more questions for you (if you don’t mind..)
Is there a mandated time limit for towns to get to 10%?
What if a Mass. town does (or does not) meet the 10%? Are there consequences for not meeting the 10%?

Just curious: I wonder if the 10% is a mandate regardless of the size of the town? In other words, does the mandate consider the size of the town (not population, but physical size) and what percentage of the town is designated unbuildable due to wetlands or conservation land, etc.

7 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM

There is no mandate to get to 10%. But any town under that standard is subject to 40B, whereby a developer can readily bypass zoning regulations if they meet minimal affordability requirements.

Example: you can’t build a typical 180 unit complex in Southborough without a variance, because the zoning bylaws don’t permit it. What basically happens is that the developer registers 25% of the units as affordable and submits the application to Mass Housing. The local zoning board denies the permit (or Accepts with Conditions), the developer appeals to the State HAC (Housing Appeal Committee), who then *almost always* rules in the developer’s favor.

But if a town exceeds the 10% standard, the developer cannot appeal to the HAC.

The size of the town is mostly irrelevant. It does impact the maximum project size, which varies between 150 and 300 units. I believe the max for Southborough is 200 units/project. There are also requirements about the project site not exceeding a certain % of town total land, etc.

Total town land is basically anything zoned residential, commericial, or industry. Any state/federal land is excluded, as are wetlands/conversation/etc.

8 Pat Q. January 23, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Thank you so much Tim. I appreciate you taking the time to address my questions.

9 John Kendall January 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Why do we continue to build? Because just like you and me, people want to be in Southborough for personal reasons. Schools, the T….you name it. Build it and they WILL come.

10 SB Resident January 22, 2013 at 5:02 PM

How did we get affordable housing credit for all the units in Madison place? and can we (or why can’t we) do the same for this?

11 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Madison Place is composed of rental apartments. The state is eager to encourage affordable rental units, so in that situation every unit counts even though only 33% are affordable.

This new 40B is composed of “apartment-style” condos. Only the percentage of affordable units counts (which is currently 25%, i.e. the minimum). This is probably the worst of all worlds..and from a developer based in Southborough…

12 Flagg Road Area SB Resident January 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM

To quote: ” a representative from Mass Housing said, “As part of our review, we are soliciting comments from the local community and we would appreciate your input…Your comments will be considered as part of our review.”” This is completely LAUGHABLE. This proposal was not made public, nor brought to the attention of the residents of the area. None of us that live in the area (not even those with abutting land) who the development would most significantly affect only found out by happenstance about the development. I\This occurred intentionally, I believe, not to mention the meeting being held on a Tuesday after a holiday Monday. The proposed area is unbelievably congested and this is BEFORE the Crystal Pond development begins renting. As previously mentioned, Flagg abuts 2 schools. Are there not safety concerns??? I think the 40B law is ludicrous, forcing towns to ignore local citizens rights and by-laws in the name of affordable housing. The facts of life are that not everyone can live everywhere. Only in MA would constituents think that is a good idea. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make your voices heard. Even if you do not live in the specific area, your life will be affected. Your commute will be lengthened, your children’s lives put at risk and the schools are already needing staff the town does not have money to fund. If there is only 1 child per unit (and renters do not pay real estate taxes and other taxes) that is 300 more students coming into the school system. Is anyone concerned and watching out for the CURRENT SB residents?

13 Tim Martel January 22, 2013 at 9:51 PM

A rought summary for those who did not attend the meeting:

1. 87 acres were purchased by the developers who then created several rough lots. A single 25 acre lot is the subject of this 40B development. The remaining 62 acres were left as TBD (i.e. future industrial/commercial/residential development). Of the 180 units, only 45 will count to the affordable housing total.
2. The project will include a septic treatment facility. This facility is intended to handle double the capacity of what the project requires. It was stated that this is future planning for the other parcels. Multiple residents urged the Selectmen to include this future planning in their deliberations (particularly traffic/safety analysis). The Selectmen promised that it “can” be included, but not that it “will” be included.
3. The traffic study had not been completed (perhaps 1 more week is needed). Therefore, little discussion occurred regarding this critical subject (a worse-case scenario includes adding 360 cars to Flagg twice a day, including morning school traffic.) It will be the topic of conversation for another meeting. The 30 day response by the Selectmen to MassHousing will likely be increased by another 30 days (developer had no objection). Many residents, as well as the Selectmen, pointed out that this topic includes multiple infrastructure/safety concerns that the developers should prepare themselves to address.
4. The topic of water was raised, specifically that the town’s supply is insufficient. As a followup, the 2009 Water Master plan shows deficiencies in storage capacity, pumping capacity, and also piping infrastructure according to current requirements, let alone aadding 140 unit + 180 unit development projects. Also noted in that report is that the water pressure in the Flagg road area was already not up to desired standards.
5. The subject of schools was brought up, in particular the Neary/Trottier school zone down the road but also the heavy amount of pedestrian traffic on Flagg/Deerfoot (including students).
6. There was discussion on the impact to municipal & school budgets, in regards to service costs as well as potential revenues. A detailed analysis was not provided at this time.
7. There was also talk about the impact of connecting the Red Roof in to residential areas from a safety/desirability perspective. And of course, residents and Selectmen were concerned about the commercial park/motel/gas station traffic being funneled onto Flagg in addition to that from the 180 housing units.

It is important for residents to speak up on this subject. I urge everyone to attend the meetings, to email or call the Selectmen and/or the Planning Board, or post their thoughts on this website (which is widely read).

14 Carrie January 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

#5 should be #1
360 extra cars on Flagg a day
you cannot change an obvious fact just because you want it to be a different way, the roads are too narrow for that amount of traffic and you have kids walking to and from school. There is no way to spin this to make it palpable.

in regards to #7 just curious as to why any resident would want the Red Roof Inn connected to their area of paradise? And no one in their right mind wants traffic from a gas station funneled on to their street>>>it’s not the library.

15 Amy January 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

The worse case scenerio of an additioanl 360 cars twice a day on Flagg/Deerfoot is is quite troublesome- as it is now the rate of speed the cars travel up Deerfoot is already a serious problem. The road is heavily travelled by students from Trottier/ runners/ walkers with the walking triails right off of Deerfoot. Flagg is a winding road as it is now- I don’t even want to think what 360 more cars twice a day would mean to that road- many kids walk to and from school on that road. Susan, thank you for keeping us up to date on this!

16 Thomas Boiani January 23, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Mr. Depietri has a reputation of delivering a quality product and also maintains his property in a very professional manner. The town could us the extra tax money, it will bring in more money for local business. It sounds like a win-win situation. I have been a town resident for over 40 years and I say let him develop.

Read more: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1058235366/Neighbors-in-Southborough-fearful-of-possible-condo-project-along-Rte-9#ixzz2IpR8EeW1

17 Al Hamilton January 23, 2013 at 3:14 PM

While I agree that Mr Depietri has done a good job in town it remains to be seen if the proposed developments have a positive impact from a tax perspective. The average single family home in town is a money looser for the town from a tax perspective. Residents use more services than they pay for. They are subsidized by the commercial, industrial and 55+ properties that do not send children to school.

Apartments & Condo’s typically are assessed at significantly lower values and as a result pay less in taxes. However, they also on average send few children to school. I am not sure if this is a win or a loss but we should understand it.

18 Banty Road Resident January 23, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Regardless of whether Mr. Depietri delivers a quality product or not, this particular location has many constraints that must be considered. I’m sure the Avalon development across the street did not receive the same resident reaction. I attended one committee meeting and determined that, given we have little say in a 40B, it was as appropriate a site as possible with limited immediate impact to residents. (The full impact of a large 40B on our small town remaining to be seen, of course.) I fully understand and appreciate the argument for supplementing the town’s tax base, however for any future development we must consider ALL consequences and impacts. Not just the pontential tax revenue.

19 JNRDVM January 23, 2013 at 9:09 PM

For those of us who are abbutters, the development of this property has been of concern for over 30 years for some of us. Back in the 80′s and 90′s there were developments “proposed” by Flatley which were never clear. We formed the “Village Green Association”and hired a lawyer to deal with the Flatley lawyers and hammered out some issues of lighting, noise db levels, etc. , that we could accept –and they agreed to–but never “signed on to in the end.” Will these concerns be addressed?

Traffic has always been of the greatest concern. Access to the property through Blackthorn Dr or Tara Road would devestate our neighborhood–so Flately bought an abbutting residence on Flagg Rd., it has been leveled,and that is where the”new escape route” from the property would exist. This is just before Flagg intersects with rt. 9, and just before the rt 9/495 current entrance.
This area is already a concern, and there are “plans” to “improve” this interchange–but how long will that take? This development should be tabled until such studies of the “9/495″ interchange can be completed.

20 Flagg Road Resident February 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM

We are not only talking about 360 (or whatever arbitrary number is chosen) extra cars each day. Have you ever seen an 18-wheeler on Flagg Road? It is absolutely terrifying. If the traffic flow is re-routed, and access to an off-highway gas station and motel are funneled onto a winding, country road, GPS units will show Flagg Road as a direct route to said locations. For those who don’t know the turns are coming, and aren’t looking for those 4th-8th graders walking home from school, and aren’t aware that a landscaping truck will be parked around each and every turn, it is a nightmare in the making. Flagg Road, as it is, simply CANNOT handle this kind of development.

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