Developers accuse zoning board of dragging its feet

Voters in November will have a choice about whether to repeal Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing statute enacted in 1969 that gives zoning breaks to developers who include affordable units in the housing developments they build. Southborough has two 40B projects in the works — one on Oak Hill Road and one on Oregon Road — and both developers recently said the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals is dragging its feet to see what happens in November.

Natick developer Robert Heavey first proposed his Woodland Meadows 40B project off Oak Hill Road in 2007. Since then it has been significantly scaled back from 4-story, 43-unit complex to a more modest 16 townhouses. Earlier this summer the ZBA asked him to scale it back even further.

“This thing has dragged on for 30 months,” Heavey told the Metrowest Daily News last month. “It’s cost me an astronomical amount of money already, and the ZBA knows that if Chapter 40B is repealed this November then I’m dead.”

William DePietri, president of Southborough-based Capital Properties, who is looking to build a 15-unit complex off Oregon Road called Stonebrook Village, has a similar complaint. The Metrowest Daily News reports that DePietri sent a letter to Selectmen accusing ZBA chairman Sam Stivers of blocking progress on the project.

“As the Stonebrook Village project has worked its way through the approval process, it has become clear that Mr. Stivers opposes the project and is now trying to stall the process, hoping that the voters will repeal the Chapter 40B law in November,” DePietri wrote. “If Mr. Stivers stalls this project to suit his own agenda, and I cannot obtain a building permit by Jan. 1, I will be forced to take legal action to recoup my considerable engineering and permitting expenses.”

DePietri went so far as to ask Stivers to recuse himself on proceedings related to the project. Stivers has refused to do so.

The ZBA meets twice this week. On Tuesday they’ll consider Stonebrook Village (7:00 pm at Cordaville Hall), and on Wednesday they’ll talk Woodland Meadows (7:00 pm at the Town House Hearing Room).

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A. D. Miller
13 years ago

I am sure that a more longstanding resident of the town can answer the following questions: Are these ZBA meetings open to the public, and more importantly is the public allowed to comment? As a relatively new resident of Oregon Rd., I certainly have more than a few comments about the proposed “village” and whether this is an appropriate site for such a development. Thanks!

A. D. Miller
13 years ago

Excellent!! Thanks!

Lisa Braccio
13 years ago
Reply to  A. D. Miller

The last meeting on this Development is before the ZBA tonight at the Sr. Center.

Donna McDaniel
13 years ago

Expanding on the answer a bit–the meetings of ALL town boards and committees are open to the public (unless they have voted to go into executive session for a specific and stated reason). Public hearings are just what the term suggests–hearings to let the public know what’s being proposed and to have their input. There are more guidelines for how public hearings are conducted–proponents and other parties directly involved get to speak first–but there must be a time for public questions and statements.
Regular meetings are more informal and my experience (long!) would suggest that if someone attending the meeting wants to ask a question or say something, he or she would be recognized and they should keep in mind that the committee probably has a lot of business to be done so there should be some respect for the time elapsed when one speaks!

13 years ago

Commenting on the repeal of 40B. It is an excellent idea. The state contributes back so little of our taxpayer money it is sick. Why should we then devalue our properties with lower end housing. You can call me a snob but we seek to rise, not fall to a lower level. That is good for all people who seek to do and be more in life.

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