MWDN: Southborough 40B project getting off to smooth start

Above: The proposed Madison Place 40B apartment complex in Southborough would be modeled after this one recently built in Shrewsbury

The Zoning Board of Appeals last week kicked off its review of Madison Place, a 140-unit affordable apartment complex to be located on the eastbound side of Route 9 near Crystal Pond Road. The Metrowest Daily News reports those working on the project don’t expect much controversy.

At an initial presentation to the Zoning Board of Appeals last week, no residents spoke against Westborough developer Robert Moss’ proposal for Madison Place, which would be built near the EMC building at Rte. 9 and Crystal Pond Road.

Ed Marchant, the town’s affordable housing consultant, told the board that because no neighborhoods are nearby, opposition will likely be minimal.

“Many of the issues that occur on 40Bs are not likely to occur here,” he said, adding that it doesn’t look like the project will add too many school-aged children into the school system.

You can read the full story in this article by the Metrowest Daily News.

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Bonnie Phaneuf
11 years ago

Dear Mr. Moss,
Reported in the Metrowest Daily News the following;
Moss presented an overview of his plans for the site,”Saying it is perfect for Southborough because it’s located along Rte. 9, not the bucolic town center.” “It is essentially being built on the other side of the tracks”

The Town Center and the Other Side of the Tracks share the same zip-code and tax rate.
Not a good way to start the process.

11 years ago

Of the 130 or so units, 56 will be multi-bedroom apartments. The entire complex would generate $260,000 in taxes. How many kids can be educated in the public schools for $260,000?

11 years ago

Why on earth would anyone think this will not have HUGE impact on the school enrollments? Families, some with many children, and especially those with a children requiring special services will be quite eager to call Southborough home. The expense to the schools will FAR outweigh any tax revenue generated. Seems like a no-brainer to me ~Just say NO to 40B Housing in Southborough!

C. Nicholas Ellis
11 years ago
Reply to  jpm

First of all, the “multi-bedroom” units – of which there will be 54 – will be only 2-bedroom units. That should mean – at most – 54 new students, and then only if everyone who takes up residence in those 54 units has a child of age to attend our school here (and chooses to do so, instead of private school).

Second, we cannot “just say no to 40B housing.” We are well below the state mandated minimum level of affordable housing. Approving this development will approximately double our level, but we’ll still be under even then.

Thirdly, wild sensationalism does not help in matters of civil discourse.

Kathy Gleason
11 years ago

Mr.Ellis is correct. Voters in this town need a reality check. We can’t just say “no” to an apartment complex because it will impact our school budget. An affordable housing complex will impact the school budget of ANY town in this state, and we need to accept our fair share. It is possible to diversify our housing stock and still maintain quality schools. Other affluent towns have done it. Southborough voters need to make the commitment.

I have owned a home in Southborough for 16 years, but I lived in Section 8 housing as a teenager in Fall River. I find it amusing to watch some of my Southborough neighbors cry in fear at the thought of having people of my ilk moving into the area.

SB Resident
11 years ago

I hate everything about 40B housing…. but…
The state spoke in last years ballot question, and it passed, when your in the minority you have to live with it and look on the bright side. And that is, all in all, this project seems about as good as it gets with 40B.

jpm, You can’t say no to 40B, thats the point.

Southsider, 260000 roughly educates 20 kids. I don’t know the numbers, but I believe it really is unlikely that 20 school aged kids will live there. Hopefully the complex can be considered a break even for the town.

11 years ago

I couldn’t agree more with jpm. This will have a huge impact on our schools and the revenue generated from it will be minimal. If you figure there is 140 units and half of them have 2 kids or more, the cost EACH YEAR of edcuating 140 children would be $1,680,000.00 if it cost $12000.00 per year per child. I think it is actually a little more than $12000.00 per year right now.

If the BOS allow this to go through without thoroughly thinking it through, they better not complain when the schools’ budget goes up.

11 years ago
Reply to  resident

People, please read the article.

Out of 140 units, only 54 are two bedroom, greatly decreasing the likelihood of children living in the complex. Of the 54, only 1/3 are low-income, which is 18 units. There are not going to be 140 children living in this complex.

Also, it is the Zoning Board not the Board of Selectmen that approves 40B projects. And since we are under our state-mandated number of units, they cannot “just say no” as another poster has already pointed out.

The sky is not falling.

John Kendall
11 years ago

The sky is definitely not falling, and some of the stances taken here are exactly why lots of people label Southborough as a snobby town.

11 years ago

There is absolutely nothing in place that prevents very large extended families from taking up residence in these units, and I am confident they will… even if they only “reside” in Southborough Monday through Friday each week.

Dean Dairy
11 years ago

For those who think there will be minimal impact… Here’s a Compromise…

Under the Mass Constitution, a town cannot charge a family for putting any number of children in school.

I know of no law, however, that would prevent a 40B plan agreement from assessing a per student fee on the 40B project owner/developer.

The owner/developer’s reaction to that proposal will tell you all you need to know about whose going to get screwed in this 40B deal without such a stipulation.

Al Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  Dean Dairy


It is a clever idea but it would have to be negotiated. What would we offer in return? The 40B rules give the developer a very strong hand and only provide for minimal local influence.

$.02 from a 40B resident
11 years ago

As a Southborough resident with 40B housing ownership, I think it may be useful to hear from another perspective. (I cannot speak to the details or qualification for renting in 40B but I can share our experience in the ownership process.) My apologies in advance for the length of this comment.
My husband and I were both self-employed and renting an apartment nearby at the time that we delivered our application to own a 40B home. We lived completely debt-free, were careful with our finances, had money in our savings, i and neither of us ever thought we would have the opportunity to buy our own home—we accepted that as simply the price of choosing meaningful but non-lucrative work in service professions and living in a community with a high cost of living.
When the opportunity presented itself to submit an application for a 40B townhouse up for sale in Southborough we were excited but also guarded. We knew how difficult it would be to be accepted and some dreams just seem a bit out of reach. We embarked on a very rigorous qualification process in order to even have our application accepted for consideration. We had very specific, strict guidelines we needed to fall within, maintain excellent credit, low/zero debt, assets of above but not exceeding certain amounts, first-time homeowners, etc. And there were hundreds of applications–70 people alone requested the app on the first day the sale was publicized. During the open house, we met many of the other hopefuls who shared our dream—young professionals, local teachers, single parents, young families, older widows, firefighters, people who grew up in town and moved away because they could afford to live here, and people like us–a simple-living married couple. You could see what having a home meant to everyone—not one person ever acted like owning a home was an entitlement. We all knew it was a privilege; and none of us could afford to enjoy this privilege without the support of the town and the 40B status. These were people who love Southborough, grew up here, want to move here, teach your children, and protect your safety. These were people who wanted to be a PART of this town, not just commute elsewhere only to return after dark. During the open house the emotion in the space was truly palpable. It’s hard to put into words what owning a home means to people who want the opportunity and no matter how hard they try, can’t quite seem to get there on their own. You could see people milling through the house, some giddy with excitement, others quietly wiping away tears—everyone that day shared the same dream.
My husband and I were the lucky ones. But luck isn’t the whole story. A lifetime of sound financial health and savings was also an essential factor in why we made it through. Because the cost of the home is reduced, it is “affordable” in comparison to the other homes in this town. It’s important to know our mortgage is not so much “affordable” (i.e. cheap) for us as it is made “possible” to afford. Our mortgage is our biggest expense, and also the check that I find easiest to write out every month. I know what a privilege it is to live here in this home and we are very grateful.
I can’t help but think that the conversation about 40B residents taxing the school system is missing some perspective. Although we don’t have children and don’t plan to, we still pay our taxes and would never begrudge our money going to the schools just because we don’t have kids using the services—it is part of being a good citizen. For starters, not all of us have kids and there were plenty of older people without kids I saw at the open house. Moreover, I’d like you to consider that if the people who occupy 40B housing in Southborough are anything like the people I met at the open house, these are people you WANT to be living in your town, going to your schools, teaching your children, and giving back. If they survive the vetting process and make it into the housing, I can attest they are probably much like my husband and me– financially responsible, no debt, healthy savings, and have stable employment. And they DEEPLY appreciate being able to live in this community and want to contribute.
I will also say that we look back on the day we were accepted and made our down payment on this home as a major turning point in our lives. From that day forward, it seems that our little world has become a little brighter and even prospered personally and professionally. We are thankful to be a part of Southborough and strive to be good neighbors and citizens. I hope you would welcome more families like us into Southborough through 40B and whatever other means needed because you see the value that the diversity brings to this town.

11 years ago

Thank you for posting this. I am really tired of the conversations regarding 40B that seem to have an undercurrent of “we don’t want THOSE PEOPLE in our town.” The perception that all 40B units will be filled with children whose families want to milk our school system is incredibly prejudiced and offensive. There is a reason why 40B is the law and we are no better and no different than any other community in the state. I have no children, yet I pay the same taxes as those with multiple children in the school system. I don’t complain about it. The thought of adding up the tax revenue for a property and then seeing if it balances the cost of educating the children residing there is absurd. Should I start looking cross-eyed at my neighbors who have 5 children? How dare they!

“Community” is not about a financial balance sheet, it is about people. I think adding diversity – any kind of diversity – to our community is a very good thing.

C. Nicholas Ellis
11 years ago
Reply to  Resident

I agree. I, too, am thankful for 40B Resident’s insight. It was an enjoyable read, and hopefully will serve as a splash of cold water to those who choose not to look beyond the numbers and see the people behind them.

Bonnie Phaneuf
11 years ago

$.02 from a 40B resident;
I have supported the 40B concept for over 15 years, serving on the Southborough Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee [SHOPC]. My comment was directed at the developer, Mr. Moss.

Enjoy your home,

John Kendall
11 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie Phaneuf

If it wasn’t for 40B, my son wouldn’t be living in his own place in Southborough.

11 years ago

All of these stories of how 40B has helped families move to Southborough are great. But, I can’t help but think to myself that I could not always afford to live in Southborough either. I can’t afford to live in Weston and I can’t afford to live in Louisburg Sq. on Beacon Hill and I can’t afford to live on the waterfront – unless we are talking about Sudbury Reservoir. There’s lots of places I can’t afford to live and I would not expect anyone to subsidize my wish to live in a nice town. That’s life and it’s what motivates me to work hard for my family every day. I just checked on and there are currently 5 houses listed between $200-$249. I would be curious to hear from people what is affordable, because to me these are affordable and are well below the median price of $673K. I moved to Southborough from Newton – because I wanted to live in a place that was not congested and had a lot open space. I could care less who my neighbor is. (I’m not a “snob”) I just think it is not right if my neighbor is paying below market for something that I have to work and save for. Bottom line, 40B does nothing for me and is only helping a few developers make money on land that they never would be able to develop in the first place.

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