What your neighbors are saying about multi-family housing

(This is the last in a series of posts about last week’s open meeting on zoning review. A group of residents and committee members who assembled at the Town House were asked five questions related to zoning. I’ll cover one question each day this week. Up today is multi-family housing.)

Of all the questions posed at last week’s zoning review meeting, this one had the potential to be the most controversial.

Multi-family housing, which Southborough defines as a residential building having two or more units, carries with it a certain stigma. The perception is multi-family housing units are less expensive so they’re purchased by people who require more town services than the average resident, and that makes them a drain on town revenue.

But if that was a concern for the residents at last week’s zoning review meeting, no one mentioned it. Instead, residents focused on how multi-family developments would fit within the town.

“We’d have to take a look at each potential area and see if it’s appropriate,” said one resident.

“I don’t know how well this would apply in existing single-family areas. You don’t want all your neighbors splitting their houses in two,” said another.

One resident thought multi-family housing could be a good fit for mixed-use areas like the business villages (downtown, Fayville, and Cordaville). “We need to create housing in the business villages,” he said. “In order to bring retail and commercial development to the villages, we need to enable people to live there.”

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15 years ago

Southborough has gone from a quaint farming community to wanting to be eliteist as some other towns in the Route 128 belt have gone. Snob zoning is nothing more than keeping “those” people out. I think that we have to suck it up just as other towns have, but keep it in control. Meeting House Path is a prime example of mixed housing that not only looks nice, it works. We could use a few more of these. It’s not for 55 and over, it’s for everyone.

Matthew Brownell
14 years ago

Leave it to a garden-variety Massachusetts liberal bigot to define opposition to Multi-Family housing as “Elitist” and “Snob Zoning”.

The overwhelming reason why highly educated and high-income families locate to Southborough is because it’s an oasis; i.e., a quiet, private town to come home to amidst a world of chaos, indifference, and disorder. . . . a town where “not much ever happens”.

Here’s a thought for the Socialist “Progressives” who can’t stand the thought of someone, somewhere, having something more in Life: property owners people pay enormous sums in quarterly taxes to live in towns where “not much ever happens”.

No, I really can’t see the vast majority of Southborough’s property owners being enamored of “Multi-Family” housing, “cluster-zoning” (more appropriately known as a Cluster-F*&K of existing property owners by developers looking to skirt local zoning for cheap yet profitable construction), or “Mixed-Use Zoning” – where it’s entirely possible to have a nightclub, million dollar residential property, dry cleaner, and gravel pit at a 4 corner intersection.

Absolutely ridiculous. Please. Stop this pathetic, “Progressive” cow-manure . Leave those great, mid-60’s Socialist experiments to towns like Framingham, Marlborough, where – I’m SURE all Southborough residents would like to live!!! (LOL)

14 years ago

Matty Boy, you’re kind of a jerk – maybe you should move – I hear Sherborn is nice.

As far as mixed use and multi-family housing goes, you should not call someone a liberal, which is extremely offensive to many, just because they disagree with you and support creating housing for hard working people that may not want to purchase a home yet. Many single professionals choose to live in apartments in the suburbs, why do you want to keep them out of Southborough. No one is looking to start a welfare block in Southborough, no one is planning to create slums. Even affordable housing in this town carries a relatively high price as would apartments. As they say in the real estate business “location, location, location”, any apartment in Southborough is going to demand a high price and working professionals will be interested.

Also, please watch the vulgarity. I’m sure well educated people like yourself could eliminate the vulgar reference and still make your point.

14 years ago

I second “Offended.” You belong nicely ensconced in a gated community Matt. Diversity of housing is what they are talking about and, thus, diversity of population. But then I guess that is exactly what you DON’T want to see. Join a private country club and buy into a gated community that keeps all “those people” out. This kind of thinking doesn’t belong in our town.

Love the reference to “socialists.” Watch Fox much? Oh, yes, those have-nots are all just jealous of those of us who are so hard-working and deserving of education and affluence.

BTW, what are “property owners people?”

Matthew Brownell
14 years ago

Well, “Mimi 22” and “Offended”. . . yes , I was one of those “single Professionals” 25 years ago, when an “Affordable Housing Unit was commonly referred to by those (who unlike yourselves, did not have an unabashed sense of entitlement) and as an “apartment”.

Can’t swing $1600/month for a good 2 -bedroom apartment? I’ll let you in on a secret employed by multiple generations of smarter Americans imbued with Common Sense. It’s a non-Big Government housing assistance program known as “A Roommate-With-Whom-One-Splits-Rent” Taking advantage of this secret does not take legions of lawyers, unelected quasi-public officials, urban planners, sleazy real-estate developers looking to skirt strict zoning requirements, or multiple armies of NAZI Socialist Progressives – all of whom apparently have WAYYYYY too much time on their hands to creep into every nook, corner, and cranny our body politic .

And please, stop with the ridiculous assertion of “vulgarity”. You address me as a “jerk” in your opening line, make your posts under a Cover-Your-Ass pseudonyms, and EXPECT to have credibility in this discussion? Do you even live in Southborough? Or are you paid “activists”, like the SMOC coalition in Framingham?

Donna McDaniel
14 years ago

I wonder if those who have negative images of multi-family housing have taken a drive around Carriage Hill or Vickery Hills… both of which are multi-family and only for people over 55 and, well, “posh” is the word that comes to mind. My own over-55 development, Southborough Meadows, is more modest than those two, but I expect is not objectionable to anyone who has driven through.

I will note that when this was being planned about a decade ago–the zoning had to be changed to allow it, there were people who insisted on describing it as “low-income” housing that would soon be a “slum” of low income old folks. Ironically, our duplexes are just as market-rate as any other housing in town and immediately grew out of the “affordable” category. And unfortunately the original goal of making it possible for elders in more modest homes who no longer wanted or could handle all the cares of a house to stay in town.

How sad it is that we can’t have a conversation about issues important to this community without calling each other names.

Matthew Brownell
14 years ago

All great suggestions, Susan.

May I also suggest a policy of writers posting their real name , so we can actually identify if they ARE “part of the same community”? Enforcing responsibility and ownership is one the the best paths to civility ever devised.

Matthew Brownell
14 years ago

Ms. McDaniel,

I am not opposed to changes in zoning to specifically accommodate senior/over-55 developments.

Residential development for this age category, in my opinion, gives a community stability and a vastly preferable alternative to transient, rental housing – especially when preference is given to local/ in-community seniors.


Matthew Brownell
14 years ago

Ms. McDaniel:

Question for you – Is it possible for a community to fulfill all requirements of Chapter 40B “affordable Housing” through 55+/senior units only?

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