Developer proposes $360K gift to offset 40B impact

The developer of the proposed Madison Place apartment complex, a 40B project to be located off Route 9 near Crystal Pond Road, has agreed to pay the town $360K to help offset the impact the development will have on the town, Zoning Board of Appeals member Leo Bartolini Jr. told selectmen last week. The sum was reached after negotiations between developer Bob Moss and the ZBA.

Developers are not required to pay mitigation money to a town, but it is common practice. While selectmen seem pleased Moss was willing to offer up funds to help ease the impact of the project, they expressed some concern about how the money would be delivered.

Bartolini told the board Moss planned to designate the funds as a gift to the town, instead of as mitigation, a distinction that means Moss would get to decide how the money is spent.

“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” Selectman John Rooney asked. “If he’s keeping control over the funds, to me that’s zero mitigation. I’m not sure that’s in the best interest of the town.”

Bartolini said it has not been determined where the money would go, but likely candidates are police, fire, and recreation.

“My feeling is the developer is not the one who should determine how the money should be spent. The town should determine that,” Rooney said.

Selectman Bill Boland said Moss has a good track record, and he said he was optimistic about working with Moss on how to handle the funds appropriately.

“I think it’s a great offer from the developer,” Boland said. “Once he puts it in writing… we can work with him on what he’d like to see done with the money and come to an agreement.”

For more on the mitigation money, and the status of the Madison Place project, see this article in today’s Metrowest Daily News.

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SB Resident
11 years ago

I’m with Rooney. Giving it as a gift defeats the purpose. I suspect there are some tax benefits to Mr. Ross for gifting it or he has some special purpose in mind since he plans on moving here. I’m surprised that he would be legally allowed to gift the town anything during this process anyway because that makes it look even more like the bribe that it really is.

11 years ago
Reply to  SB Resident

It might not be a tax benefit to doing it this way, but it could definitely be a PR benefit.

If he just gives the money to the town, it would blend in with the general budget and not stand out. If he specifies what it’s for, he has the ability to say “I paid for that new (playground/police car/park/etc)”

Sal Giorlandino
11 years ago
Reply to  southside

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is a Board of Town residents (5 full members and two alternate members) who volunteer a great of their time (many long evenings) to tackle difficult zoning issues and review proposed real estate development projects. I commend the ZBA members for their efforts on Mr. Moss’s proposed c. 40B Project. Securing $360,000.00 from Mr. Moss is a notable achievement that we should thank the ZBA members for.

Just Curious
11 years ago

Not so fast Sal-

I wonder if the BOS asked anyone from ZBA how the developer came up with the idea to split the funds in the way he has chosen whihc effectively bypasses the BOS? Was this the developer’s idea or was it suggested to him by anyone on the ZBA. Sure, they or anyone else has that right, but the BOS should ask that question.

Personally, I think the BOS alone shoudl be the folks to determine what are the town’s most pressing financial needs.

Hey – I’m just curious ;)

Sal Giorlandino
11 years ago
Reply to  Just Curious

The $360,000.00 that Mr. Moss has pledged to the Town for his proposed
c. 40B project is a significant sum of money that he has pledged as a result of the ZBA’s efforts. Whether the Board of Selectmen or Mr. Moss should decide how the Town should spend the money is a separate issue and does not change the fact that the ZBA is a volunteer board made up of 7 Town residents who give much of their time to Town. We should be grateful for their service to the Town instead deriding them as Mr. Rossen did below by suggesting they have facilitated or participated in a corrupt scheme with Mr. Moss regarding his pledge of the $360,000.00 to the Town. Moreover, as Susan pointed out above, Mr. Moss has no legal obligation to give the Town any money whether the money is called “mitigation” or “gift.” He can ask the ZBA to take an up or down vote on his project, and if his project is rejected, he can appeal to the State Housing Appeals Committee (“HAC”), where c. 40B project proponents tend to prevail because c. 40B tilts in favor of the proponent. In sum, the Town should work with Mr. Moss to get the best deal that it can get because that is in the Town’s best interest.

Al Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  SB Resident

The BOS has some ability to control these “Gifts” If the “Gift” comes in the form of some sort of capital asset (eg a police cruiser or fire equip) the Code of the Town of Southborough requires the BOS to vote to accept that gift and it cannot be accepted without that vote.

Here is the language:

All Town departments, except those under the supervision of the various elected school committees, prior to the acquisition by grant, gift, lease or other means of capital equipment, real property or capital assets by any Town department, employee, board or official except as specifically budgeted and approved by Town Meeting, the parties making such acquisition shall:

A. Provide the Board of Selectmen with a written description of the equipment, real property or capital asset to be acquired. The Board of Selectmen shall approve the acquisition by majority vote; and

B. Also provide the Board of Selectmen with a written estimate of annual maintenance costs; annual operating costs, and a description and cost of ancillary support systems and equipment that are required for the effective utilization of the equipment, real property or asset. These estimates shall be for a period equal to the life of the equipment, real property or capital asset or five years, whichever is less. The Board of Selectmen shall approve these estimates by majority vote.

C. Shall the Board of Selectmen fail to approve either option as noted above, the equipment, capital asset or real property shall not be acquired.

The intent of they by law was make sure that the BOS knew what sorts of assets were being acquired and what the life cycle costs would be.

Full Disclosure: I am the author of this By Law.

Neil Rossen
11 years ago

This is not a gift. The developer provides the money to meet HIS objectives. Now he decides how to spend it. What is wrong with this picture? I won’t go quite as far as to call it a bribe. Shall we say an inducemwent?

I think the BOS should make the decisions as ti how the money is spent.

John Boiardi
11 years ago

Be careful with 40B projects. The Boston Globe did an exposé on 40B projects on how costs were allocated to the affordable housing portion of the project.

My question is whether the $360,000 will offset the additional costs to the school system.
We are given statistics about the number of children that are projected with one or two bedroom apartments. Keep in mind what they say about statistics.

I’ve read many posts on why people move to Southborough. I don’t recall any of them saying they moved here because they loved the apartment complexes. They could move to Marlboro or Framingham .

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