Park Central: Vote scheduled (4:30 today); public questions rush on project adding 319 residences (Updated)

by beth on August 24, 2016

I’m supposed to be on vacation. But, Park Central pulled me back in!

On Monday, the Zoning Board of Appeals posted an addition to today’s agenda on the project “and to vote upon.” Interestingly, the meeting is scheduled for 4:30 pm on a summer afternoon.

This follows a recent announcement giving residents and boards to noon yesterday to provide any conditions they want considered. Meanwhile, the Planning Board and Conservation Commission have yet to complete their reviews and submit feedback to the ZBA.

The announcement has alarmed many. Residents are questioning the board’s choice to “hit the accelerator” during a month when many residents are away. Two neighbors publicly raised the possibility that the ZBA is motivated by the project chair is moving out of Town.

[Editor’s Note: That is an accusation that has not been confirmed. But neighbors are sure to be asking it this afternoon.]

The project is what many residents have been calling the biggest project we’ve ever seen in Southborough (aside from building the Sudbury Reservoir in the 1800s). Neighbors are estimating it represents expanding Town residences by 10%. It will add 180 condo units and 139 townhouses off of Flagg Road.

I haven’t had time to finish watching the last 3 hours of last week’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. The project keeps developing faster than I can keep up with. Which is why I wasn’t prepared to post a story last week or this one. But given issues raised last night – I can’t hold off on posting any longer.

At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the Town heard a water report, discussed Flagg Road safety issues, and heard from Town Counsel and residents. Today, I’m just focusing on the issue of timing. 

Neighbor John Green told selectmen shared his theory for the ZBA’s rush. Green said that current project chair David Eagle’s house is listed as sold with a closing date of August 21st which may have been delayed. And he claimed knowledge that indicates Eagle is moving out of town. Supporting the theory, Majid Yazdani showed selectmen photos of a moving truck outside of Eagle’s home.

Green said it was inappropriate for Eagle to have taken over as Chair this summer, knowing he was relocating. Selectmen told Green and Yazdani it was unfair to accuse Eagle in his absence. They told the residents the question should be directed to the ZBA today.

If Eagle does move out of Town before a vote, it would have a major impact on how the board handles the case.

Eagle is one of the three ZBA members ruling on the project. Former Chair Leo Bartolini recently stepped down as Chair (though staying as a member) over a petition by neighbors complaining about his handling of the project.

The ZBA has two other members plus two alternates. But, the board has maintained the position that only those who have been following the project over the past couple years should be voting on it. Which is why as other members have resigned or been conflicted out, they haven’t been replaced on the case.

BOS Chair Brian Shea told the public that he sent a letter to the ZBA asking them to give the Planning Board and Conservation Commission more time.*

Earlier in the meeting, Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf moved to prohibit a left turn from Park Central to Flagg Road – subject to safety review. She was outvoted. Other selectmen indicated the decision was too soon, but one they will consider. Selectman Paul Cimino even stated they may decide to gate it as one way or make a dead end.

Town Counsel advised that even after the ZBA rules, selectmen retain the right to regulate safe egress on Flagg Road. But he indicated it was likely he would have to defend that in court. Some commenters worried that the board was making a mistake holding off on the decision.

*Brian Shea is the new Chair of the BOS, as of last night. The reorganization was prompted by former Chair John Rooney. He explained that new work obligations will take up too much of his time to continue as chair. The new Vice Chair is Bonnie Phaneuf.

Updated (9/8/16 9:32 am): I had accidentally written that Ms. Phaneuf tried to force a left turn only from Park Central.

1 Allan Bezanson August 24, 2016 at 9:55 AM

It is safe to have all traffic from Park Central egress onto Flagg Road, turn left and traverse to Main via Deerfoot.. So say the traffic safety experts citing statistics and guidelines accepted by MassDoT, and the ZBA is buying that. But wait. Isn’t safety a matter of degree – like the freshness of fish? A codfish, gutted and iced right after capture remains “edible” for 21 days when held in ice. I know about such things from work on a taste panel in a food science lab in Gloucester. We rated quality over a range from excellent to putrid.

The ZBA has approved a user variance to turn BOTH ways onto Flagg via John Boland Road. So what about the allowed Flagg/9 merge and what about all the added traffic that will surely flow onto Lovers Lane, Lynbrook and Clifford? All omitted from the safety study – like we have been invited to taste cod, but what’s on the plate is herring.

ZBA meeting today, Wednesday at 4:30. Safety comes in shades folks.

The Planning Board, in a 7/19/16 letter to Secretary Beaton, is on record recommending “Mitigation would be the exclusion of traffic from the proposed development onto Flagg Road.”

2 Matthew Brownell August 24, 2016 at 1:03 PM

Filthy. Absolutely filthy.

At last week’s ZBA meeting, the public was not given adequate time to voice concerns about the very obvious, imminent, and reckless safety risks brought to Southborough residents by a the proposed left-hand turn scenario onto Flagg Road (via Park Central egress on John Boland Dr.).

The fact that 18-wheelers, fuel trucks, and other large vehicular traffic would now be invited onto the narrow country lanes and family neighborhoods of Flagg Road, Deerfoot, Lovers Lane, and Lynnbrook by the Park Central project is beyond lunacy . . its patently imbecilic and negligent.

And now the ZBA is now scheduling to vote on this today at 4:30pm . . on a workday in late Summer, when the vast majority of impacted residents will unavailable to stand in opposition, and vet the very real safety issues brought to our roads by The Park Central project? Are you kidding?

This is sleazy government and leadership at its worst. . . .

3 YY August 24, 2016 at 3:17 PM

The peer review recommends gating or closing connection from Park Central Drive and that would prevent these large vehicles from using John Boland Drive and taking a left on to Flagg Road. Alternatively, MassDOT’s recommendation is to prohibit left turn onto Flagg Road. Either one would prevent that kind of scenario. I feel prohibiting left turn is safer given the assisted living and hotel behind this but would take either one for now. So far I have only heard of maybe a sign on John Boland Drive but given it is a private road, I seriously question the enforcement of it. We’ll see what happens but not looking good to me…

It does seem reasonable to me to assume that if someone gets gas at Cumberland Farms then they will most likely exit onto RT-9 W since to do otherwise would mean they went out of their way. However, can you say same thing for trucks etc that is there to do business? The location is pretty central located to major routes that using Flagg Road seems equally plausible?

4 anne August 24, 2016 at 2:06 PM

“Something is rotten in Denmark”

5 Publius August 24, 2016 at 2:54 PM

The reality is this project is moving forward., Sure some can continue to voice concerns, both rational and irrational but the project is very likely moving forward. It would be a shame for the town to spend large amounts in a losing effort in court. Serious question – buildable space near Rt 9 is both desirable and probably will result in development some day. Why do abutters and near abutters think underutilized land is going to remain so ?

6 Townie August 24, 2016 at 6:59 PM

Been saying it all along, and no one wants to admit it’s happening. Westborough, Northborough, Ashland, Hopkinton, are all growing at alarming rates. It’s Southborough’s turn.

7 Frank Crowell August 24, 2016 at 7:04 PM

The other reality is that not many of the “Townies” are against it and it will have little effect on Main Street traffic.

Of course the land is near 12 lanes of interstate highway and four lanes of state highway……………..wait a minute……………..does that make it historic?

8 Al Hamilton August 25, 2016 at 7:42 AM

Rt 9 (aka the Worcester Turnpike) was built in 1810 so yes, it is historic. Does that mean that they cannot take a chip out of the historic concrete without a demolition permit approved by the Historic Commission?

9 Frank Crowell August 25, 2016 at 9:07 AM

Al – that remark was sarcasm………maybe not the finest example……….But isn’t the Historic Commission picking the paint color?

10 Abutter August 24, 2016 at 11:26 PM

No one is asking for this land NOT to be developed at all. We are asking for it to be developed responsibly. It is a major, very large development that is going to take 4 – 5 years to build. It is going to have an impact on the whole town and not just our neighborhood. We are just asking to have it developed responsibly in collaboration with the other boards that know what they are doing and have experience and knowledge to share.

11 Abutter 2 August 25, 2016 at 11:08 AM

Completely agree. Build out the town a bit, that is fine. But don’t endanger people. There is zero consideration for the safety of people using the roads that will be most affected and it’s extremely frustrating. And it’s not just a rush hour problem, you have to move over and slow down at any given time if there are 2 cars on Flagg not to mention how narrow Lovers is without any extra traffic!

12 Stuck with it August 26, 2016 at 7:32 AM

If I remember correctly, there have been a few proposals over the years for commercial development of this land, which, for the most part, would have been mostly daytime operation, not added any students to schools, and had access via Park Central Drive on Rt. 9. The Town would have had a lot of control over this development because of local zoning regulations. However, abutters seemed to be up in arms over any development on this valuable land and such proposals never went forward. Now the town has a 40B project jammed down its throat with very little say in the matter because of state laws that don’t care about you and I.

I believe that the Board of Selectmen have the authority to designate one-way streets and truck exclusions on streets under the control of the Town (e.g.: Flagg and Deerfoot Roads). Perhaps making a case to designate Flagg Road one way on a section at the Route 9 end (to prevent vehicles exiting the project from turning left, as well as a truck exclusion, (coupled with enforcement) will help mitigate problems that are caused by this gorilla in the town!

13 Al Hamilton August 26, 2016 at 9:13 AM

I do not think the BOS has the authority to arbitrarily ban truck traffic from a road. I believe the standard is that trucks have to account for more than 10% of the traffic on the road over a 24 hour period. (We went through this on Pine Hill Road). I am sure that the DPW can provide more info on this.

14 David Cote August 24, 2016 at 9:19 PM

Unbelievable! This is an example of incompetent local government and greed at its worst.

I live on Flagg Road. I work out of my home and I observe the daily automobile and truck traffic flow and the many local residents that past by my front door.

Many of them are my neighbors- jogging , families pushing their children in strollers, elderly people out for a walk and young children bicycling. It is a winding treacherous country road as you know with no shoulder or sidewalks.

I travel it daily in my car and many times you narrowly avoid hitting an oncoming car or some pedestrian because of the turns in the road and because its is so well traveled by the local residents at the CURRENT population level.

The fix is easy and it’s borne out by the many studies that have been done. This should be no left turn onto Flagg only turns that results in traffic flowing on to Route 9.

Any other decision by the board is just sheer incompetence! I’ve tried to make it to the last two meetings but because I’ve been at either been out of town on business or because of the most recent one being scheduled during business hours have been unable to attend.

It saddens me that the people of a town as wonderful as ours have such little say in matters like this and the people that are supposed to be advocating for us have really not been doing that and dropped the ball.

15 Todd August 25, 2016 at 8:20 AM

Not only am I disappointed by the way this has been run, but I am certain it has been done unethically if not illegally. I agree that this land can and should be used but also agree that it has to be done responsibility. Very disappointed in my town officials.

16 Rob August 25, 2016 at 9:39 AM

Now maybe its time to change our style of government???? What a joke!!! I’d rather have one tyrant than several boards full of them who are all out for themselves.

17 mike fuce August 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM

I will chime in now with my concern and question. The area of Red Roof/Cumberland has traffic from a southborough road entering it, traffic from Cumbie’s entering and leaving, and the on ramp from route 9 to 495. It is literally a war zone at times with people acting/driving in reckless abandon. That needs to be addressed.

18 Flagg Road Resident August 25, 2016 at 10:19 AM

I am a Flagg Road resident who attended yesterday’s meeting with my nine year-old son. Not because of childcare issues, but because he is invested in our neighborhood and wanted to witness how our town government operates, and how he could play an impactful part in this process. He changed his clothes to show respect and was very interested in sharing his opinions at the open forum part of the meeting. He sat in the back of the room with me from 4:30-6:30pm, while the conditions were read. When one of the committee members called for a five-minute recess, we left. I returned later in the evening without my son. But not without his statement, which he typed up while we sat in the afternoon session. I was awaiting my turn last night to share it with the board, when a motion was made and quickly seconded to close the public session. My son’s disappointment when he awoke this morning to learn that his thoughts were not heard was evident and he asked me to share his thoughts here:

“I will be walking to school and I don’t want even more cars zooming by. It’s already a busy road that cars go too fast on so I feel that blocking off the road so the new developments can’t access Flagg Road is something that needs to be done.”

It comes down to this. We are not saying that development shouldn’t or won’t happen in Southborough. But he is a resident who uses the road on a daily basis for access to school. The children are what is at stake without a limitation on vehicular traffic along Flagg Road.

19 Abutter August 27, 2016 at 12:03 PM

It is so obvious to a 9 year old what the main problem is here. The safety of Flagg road, period. Yet, the ZBA and even BOS keep putting this on the back burner. The town’s peer reviewer Mr.Jason DeGray even commented on how Flagg road is Unsafe at current conditions and there are serious concerns that need to be addressed NOW!
Please encourage your son to stay interested and keep his common sense.

20 Michael Scarn August 25, 2016 at 1:23 PM

No offense, but the people attacking Mr. Eagle for selling his home are kind of pathetic. There have been meetings ALL SUMMER. Plenty of time to voice your concern before this final meeting / vote. I didn’t get a chance to attend last night’s meeting, but I did watch a good chunk of it today, and I’m pretty stunned at how some of our residents acted. The comments directed towards Mr. Eagle were pretty shameful. I love how people conveniently forget that his business is still located in Southborough, so he’s very much still part of this community even if he will no longer own a home here. Clearly, he has the best interest of the community at heart.

21 JOJAMA August 26, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Mr Scarn,

Why a push to have a meeting at 4:30?….VERY STRANGE!!
He is no longer a resident…board members must be town residents. Does the President of Dunkin Donuts get to sit on a board because he is a “business owner” in town?
Talk about shameful? Have you watched any other meetings or Monday’s meeting to witness how extraordinarily RUDE Mr. Bartolini is to citizens? It is DISGUSTING!! He is allowed to speak out of turn continually.He calls adult women “girls”! He yells at citizens during the public comments. He actually asked that some pond in Park Central be named after the “water guy”. I could go on and on.
I have been attending town meetings and board meetings in Southborough for 20 years. The level of disrespect to our townspeople displayed by this board is unbelievable. And to witness the the solicitation by the ZBA of Mr Dipietri and his lawyers’s approval is down right appalling!
I agree some of the neighbors may have seemed ‘Snarky”, but nothing compared to the displays of Mr Bartolini and the actions of the board! LEO SHOULD GO!!!!

I am a resident of the Flagg Road area. .I walk every day with my dog….my son runs…my children drive cars. I feel lucky when I don’t have to flee into the grass to avoid a speeding car! BTW according to the often cited traffic report the average speed of a vehicle on certain parts of FLAGG Road is in excess of 38 mph. The maximum legal speed on ANY part of the road is 25 mph. I am asking the BOS to close Flagg Road to ALL Park Central traffic 24/7.

board meetings

22 YY August 27, 2016 at 1:07 AM

I would to add that it was scheduled for 4:30pm but didn’t really start until around 5:00pm because Mr. Dipietri and company was late… To add insult to injury, discussion was cut off with at least 2 people waiting to speak and they have not spoken yet that night. And there wasn’t enough print outs of conditions that was being discussed so it was very hard to follow. But I think the general feeling of the board and even the consultant was the shortage of print outs and the final revision not ready not much before the meeting isn’t an issue… really?

Sure there has been other meetings but how much time was given for us to review the final draft of conditions and come up with some intelligent responses? It has been a lengthy process but given that Mr. Dipietri admitted that he in fact has to wait for conservation? and maybe other approvals, I don’t see why must the vote happen that night?

23 Abutter 2 August 26, 2016 at 12:05 PM

He has the best interests of the community at heart? If he did, the Flagg Rd. issue would be a done deal and no left turns would be allowed. End of story. Also, you are correct that there have been meetings all summer. You make your above statement sound like the community has been silent until now which is absolutely untrue.

24 Abutter August 27, 2016 at 12:11 PM

What is shameful is knowing you are selling your house and delaying the closing until you have done a marathon session to vote on the project AFTER you had promised multiple times that you will wait until all the other boards have had a chance to give their full input before you make a decision. What is shameful is having a longstanding relationship with the applicant and having done business with him for years and likely continuing into the future. What is shameful is not wanting to negotiate with the applicant to try and get money for the town. When he is only paying $25000 to the town for a project that will likely pocket Mr. Depietri tens of millions of dollars. Madison park across the street on Rt 9 paid the town in excess of $300000 for a project that is half the size.
When Mr. Bartolini is raising his voice at town council and a member of BOS during a public meeting, that is what is shameful in my book.

25 T. Packer August 29, 2016 at 1:18 PM

“What is shameful is knowing you are selling your house and delaying the closing until you have done a marathon session to vote on the project”

—I’d have to agree with Mr Scarn on this point. I don’t think the closing date on the house had much to do with anything here.

26 YY August 30, 2016 at 9:36 AM

There is no real proof of anything yet but I feel it at least gives bad optics that should and could had been avoided by Mr. Eagle openly and honestly disclosing the information as soon as the house was on the market and make commitment to staying a resident (if only for as long as Park Central took — I have no knowledge of what Mr. Eagle’s plan were/are/will be). I believe being a resident (not owner of business(es) in town) is required for Mr. Eagle to be/continue to be a voting member of the ZBA and as such whether he’ll remain a resident after sale of his house is a very important question that should had been addressed prior to voting and closing meeting. Frankly, my opinion is that it should had been disclosed some time between when decision was made to sell house and house going on market.

27 Bonnie Phaneuf August 25, 2016 at 3:49 PM

Please visit,
Southborough Access Media, (2:30:15- 2:42:53)BOS Meeting of August 23,2016
Vote 4-1

28 anne August 25, 2016 at 10:17 PM

AUGUST 25, 2016
Southborough co. fined $83K for OT violations
Courtesy

COURTESY
Attorney General Maura Healey announced an $83,000 fine for overtime violations on Thursday
Southborough construction company JBJ Construction, LLC, and its owner, William Depietri have been cited $83,965.53 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay overtime to 28 employees, the office of Attorney General Maura Healey announced Thursday.

The AG’s office began an investigation after an employee of JBJ Construction filed a complaint alleging that he worked in excess of 40 hours in a week but that he was paid the regular rate of pay instead of the overtime rate. The investigation revealed that between September 2012 and October 2014, JBJ Construction failed to pay overtime wages to 28 of its employees.

This marks an ongoing crackdown on overtime violations by the AG’s office and the U.S. Department of Labor.

29 Jonathan August 26, 2016 at 6:31 AM

eagles house went to record the following morning at 10am. It’s the process that is appalling from the Developer,-ZBA-40b consultant?

It’s not about building or developing its about the greed, collusion and corruption in how it is done that’s what people don’t see.it happens all over town and nobody is aware of it. Use variances are illegal in 90% of towns but Leo hands them out and threatens citizens at all costs. Watch sbro access media 5/27/15 starts at 1:34 if you want an example.

30 Kelly August 27, 2016 at 7:02 PM

How to describe my disappointment in many of our town officials, who are elected/appointed to serve its residents…

I attended this past Wednesday’s ZBA meeting, where the recurring theme seems to be complete disregard for residents and their concerns.

As others have mentioned, there were no copies of the final draft of conditions for the Park Central project available for residents to read along with as they were read – something you would think would be a common courtesy.

True to form, Mr. Bartolini was his usual charming self – arguing with residents and speaking out of turn. I lost count of how many times he uttered “I’m going to correct you on that…” I’ve often witnessed the other members of the board chuckle or give a little eye roll when he displays such behavior, as though being belligerent, defensive and condescending is something to be amused, rather than appalled, by. After the recent citizens’ petition seeking the ouster of Mr. Bartolin as ZBA chair and the many complaints made regarding the way he interacts with the citizens he has been appointed to serve, you would think he would if not change, at least modify, his behavior, but I honestly don’t think he possesses the self-awareness to do so.

Public speaking is something I am not comfortable with, and so I waited until I felt most everyone who had wanted to, had stood at the mike before getting up to take my turn, only to have the board vote to close the public hearing. The citizen ahead of me – who Mr. Eagle publicly stated earlier in the evening would have her chance to speak – was summarily dismissed, as was I, and perhaps others who still wanted to speak. So much for his statement that he wanted everyone who wished to speak, to have a chance to do so. It was clear the board had had enough with listening to residents’ concerns and wanted this deal signed, sealed and delivered.

Lastly, I would like to thank Ms. Phaneuf for trying at the last Board of Selectmen’s meeting to take a vote on closing the left turn onto Flagg Road. I implore the Selectmen to seriously consider resident’s concerns and vote to do so. These concerns have been voiced repeatedly over the years. Speed humps, signs stating “no left turn between 7 and 9 a.m.” (seriously?!) and other “traffic calming” measures are not going to solve the horrific safety issues that an additional 3- to 4,000 car trips per day will inflict on Flagg, Lovers Lane, Clifford and other surrounding streets. I and many other concerned residents use these roads every day, but everyone who lives in this town has used these roads and surely knows this to be true. The ZBA has failed us in this matter. Please do the right thing for the safety of this town’s residents, especially its most valuable asset – our children.

31 Make a difference September 2, 2016 at 6:15 PM

Kelly,

I STRONGLY urge you to file an open meeting law violation complaint. It is against the law for them to shut down public comment when people are in queue for speaking. This behavior will not stop unless people, like you, file a grievance. It is simple, go to http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/oml-complaint-process.html and download a form. You simply fill out the claim, submit to the ZBA, Town Clerk and Mark Purple and waiting 14 days for a response. If the response does not satisfy you, file with the Attorney General. We cannot let this to continue. PLEASE submit the complaint, this is one more avenue to pursue to send a message. They are not listening to us so perhaps they will listen to the Attorney General.

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