Developer considering 400 more 40B units at Park Central within decade

Above: Previous build out plans for the Park Central site off Flagg Road included residential and commercial space. Now the developer is clarifying hopes to build up to 580 condo units over several years. (Image cropped from plans on town website)

Neighbors opposing a proposed 180 Unit 40B development at Park Central heard upsetting news this week. The developer has potential plans to come back with two more 40B developments within the decade. Each development would add another 200 units to the site.

William Depietri of Capital Group Properties addressed the Zoning Board of Appeals this week. On the agenda was a requested continuance for the project. If not requested (or granted) the ZBA would have had to rule on the project by August 11th. Instead the extension was made to December 12, 2014.

At the meeting, ZBA Chair Bartolini continued to press Depietri  to consider changing his project from for sale condos to rental units. Bartolini had in past pitched that doing so would allow the town “safe harbor” from future 40B developments. He hoped the town could then control which 40Bs were let in for 20-30 years.

Depietri told the board that he projected the town could control projects for 80-90 years. Meanwhile he has hopes to come back in 2017 with another 200 unit 40B development at Park Central. And he wants the option for even coming back in 2019 with and additional 200 units. He asked why they would consider “boxing themselves out” of that.

The news disturbed neighbors who asserted that traffic issues for even the 180 units haven’t been resolved. They were upset to learn about traffic from another potential 400 units being “piggybacked” onto the proposed egress to the property.

Depeitri justified his plans as the “highest best use” of the property. He explained that commercial office space would cannabalize his office space on Route 9, in an area where most tenants are extracting not expanding. And he blamed neighborhood protests for stopping a deal he worked on 4-5 years ago to build an assisted living facility there. He said now the facility was built elsewhere and there are too many in surrounding towns to make that work.

Later, Blackthorne resident Jim Foster claimed that the neighborhood had been extremely supportive of an assisted living facility. He blamed the market falling out for having halted that project.

Depeitri shut down ZBA questions about the traffic study not including those 400 units. He stated that the board only had the right to look at the project in front of them. 

Bartolini continued to float alternatives to persuade Depietri to switch units to rentals. In addition to controlling 40Bs, he was seeking to add less children to the school system. They agreed that statistically rental units have fewer children.

Some of the Chair’s ideas were adding more units now, but making all rentals. Or the board could grant a variance or use permit for development of single and/or multi-family homes.

Depietri asked to sit down with the Town Planner to make sure she was “on board” before the next meeting. He said he had already wasted enough time considering rentals.

Bartolini urged Depietri to consider proposals and promised to talk to Town Planner Jennifer Burney. But he cautioned that Burney wouldn’t be allowed to discuss the current 40B project with him. Discussion would be limited to other projects on the property. Any discussion with her about the current proposal would have to be at a ZBA public hearing.

Depietri also stated that any other projects would have to be done concurrently, since rental would be contingent.

Not that I don’t trust you guys, but, you know, you already shut me down once.

The next ZBA public hearing on the issue will be on Wednesday, August 27.

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DLD
7 years ago

Does anyone have the numbers on how many students have actually been added to the school system from Madison Place? As I recall the effect on the school system was advertised as being negligible, but I have seen full buses heading there at the end of the day and Finn is adding another Kindergarten class next year. Could be the effect of a rebound in the housing market but I’m wondering if there’s a correlation.

Chuck D
7 years ago
Reply to  DLD

No full buses from Southborough go to Madison Place. Only the half bus. And, since it’s the first stop on one of the afternoon runs, the bus is loaded, but only 2-3 students get off there on that run. Last year, 8 students were transported to/from Madison Place.

Rami
7 years ago

wow! would like to see how the developer plans to accommodate a sewer system for that many units being as S’boro lacks a public sewer system – I guess where there is a will there is a way – money & profit are calling – who cares what the common folk feel. I’ts the american way after-all, take take take!! Switch, bait, lie or whatever it takes to make extra dollar$

This will put alot of stress on the existing public schools and limited town resources which are already stressed, not to mention a shift in the rural,small town feel.

Tim Martel
7 years ago

I would like to point out that the initial approval letter from MassHousing explicitly instructs the applicant to discuss all future plans for this site with the Zoning Board. So the consideration of traffic impact from 400 future units is not only permissible but required.

Linda Chan
7 years ago

This is a sad situation. Do the Selectmen actually do anything. How can they let this happen. The entire area will become one huge mess.

Al Hamilton
7 years ago
Reply to  Linda Chan

Linda

Contrary to popular belief, the Selectmen are not all powerful potentates. They have to operate within the scope of their authority. They have relatively little authority in this matter. Most of what authority exists lies with the ZBA and the Planning Board (The latter is an independently elected executive which is not under the control of the BOS)

In contrast, the property owner has some very powerful rights. He, like all of us, has the right to develop his property to it’s highest and best use as long as he follows the rules. It is not his fault that the voters of the State (and Southborough) passed 40B. (When you vote for big, well intentioned, state programs this is often what you get.) If he follows the rules he pretty much has an absolute right to develop his property.

I am not crazy about this development either. It will probably cause all of our taxes to increase. But, the town, with the late filings, has frittered away some of its options.

In dealing with this development, the first thing to be done is to understand the power equation. That equation is heavily tipped in favor of the developer. You may not like it but that is reality and seeing the situation as it really exists is the first step to figuring out what you can and cannot achieve. If you grasp for too much you will get nothing.

Donna McDaniel
7 years ago

For better or worse, newer technology now enables stand-alone sewage treatment units that accommodate far more than ever before. I don’t know the technicalities but do know that we can no longer count on the lack of town sewerage to protect us for this size project. Those days are gone.
(My home (Southborough Meadows) has a common septic system for 54 units, as does Carriage Hill and I assume others like us.
I do think we need to hear more about the impact on schools.
And I am concerned about so many residents who are in their own area there, removed from our existing neighborhoods and community life. Because the Madison Place website has few references to our community life (churches, schools, sports, etc.), I offered to do a “welcome to Southborough” booklet for the developer to provide to residents but found no interest.

Oh Well
7 years ago

Instead of fireworks at this year’s summer nights why don’t we have Bill Depietri sing Sinatra’s “My Way”

Donna McDaniel
7 years ago

Please note: Contrary to a commenter’s previous statement above:
Ch 40B is NOT subject to approval by voters… it is a law passed by the Massachusetts legislature for all communities who lack affordable housing.

Please check your facts before putting the blame where the blame doesn’t belong.
Anything that has “Chapter” in front of it means it a chapter in the General Laws of the Commonwealth. Here’s just the introduction to the pertinent law… look up Ch. 40B for more.
From the web: ===
What is Chapter 40B?
Also known as the Comprehensive Permit Law, Chapter 40B
(http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=ehedsubtopic&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Community+
Development&L2=Chapter+40B+Planning&sid=Ehed) was enacted in 1969 to help
address the state-wide shortage of affordable housing by reducing barriers
created by local zoning and other restrictions. Its goal is to encourage the
production of affordable housing in all communities throughout the
Commonwealth.
Chapter 40B is a state statute which enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals (ZBA)
to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20-
25% of the proposed units have long-term affordability restrictions.
The affordable homes, apartments and condominium are reserved for those who
make less than 80% of median household income for the area. Most of the
residents in the affordable apartments and homes earn less than $50,000 per
year.
—-
Another note from mem hinting at the rest… the local ZBA can deny a permit but the denial is subject to being over-ruled by the Mass. Housing Court so it’s not easy to get support for a denial from them. Personally, I would think that the Housing Court would join residents in a concern about the access/egress for the site but then… one never knows.
Please, check facts before offering opinions!

Al Hamilton
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna McDaniel

I was referring to the repeal referendum held on Nov 2, 2010. It failed 58% to 42%. The referendum failed in Southborough as well, 51% to 49%. We may quibble over words but I consider this approval by the voters.

Probably the biggest beneficiaries of the 40B program have been developers who have a new bargaining chip when dealing with local development officials. I saw this first hand when my neighborhood was developed. The first plans put on the table had lots of 40B housing. Then the concessions started and eventually a deal was struck but without the 40B program the town would have been in a far stronger bargaining position.

As for getting a sympathetic hearing by the state. If you believe this I have an excellent investment for you in a real cash generating bridge. The optics and politics of “A rich town with snob zoning tries to exclude poor people” hearing are not in our favor. We should take a lesson from the rapid crushing of our vain attempt to get a “Safe Harbor” designation a few days after the filing deadline.

If you voted against the repeal you have no basis for complaint when developers dust off the 40B club, you put it in their hands.

SB Resident
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna McDaniel

Ummm, you may want to check YOUR facts before you rant. Removing the Ch 40B law was a ballot question a few years back. The ballot question failed and the majority (a very small one) in Southborough was in favor of keeping the law.

Betsy Rosenbloom
7 years ago

Ms. McDaniel is correct that the original 40B legislation was a law passed by the Legislature. However, Mr. Hamilton is also correct – the voters of Massachusetts (including Southborough) had the choice to repeal 40B by ballot question (Question 2) in November 2010 and they chose NOT to repeal it. On a related note – people talk about legislation “imposed” on us by Beacon Hill as if we had no choice in what gets done up there. Please remember that WE the people elect the legislators who make these laws! If you don’t like what the legislators are doing in and to your community, think about that in November. These laws are not accidents – they are the studied policies and politics of the people we elect.

Dick Chase
7 years ago

An effort to repeal the 40B stature was put to Commonwealth voters 4 years ago as a ballot initiative (question 2 in 2010). It was defeated.

mike fuce
7 years ago

So many of you are so rude with you wise comments. No one wants the nuke dump in there yard either but we all have bigger and more energy hungry needs and we need electricity form nukes and clean coal. But your man in the white house has shut down 50 plants in 6 years with no replacemnts except 10% from wind and solar. Dipitri owns the property and needs to develop it and I believe at some point the town can and will be held liable for his losses. It seems to me Dipetri is doing everything he can to work with you guys. He seems to have been very generous over the years to the PILOT programs and town events. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Al Hamilton brought up a good point. All you liberal left voters and the liberal democrats in Massachusetts wrote the laws Dipietri is operating under and legally. That is what liberal Massachusetts gets for voting liberal continuously. The working class and upper middle class continue to get fleeced by the states lawyers, politicians and unions can get there piece of the pie. And you and I are now paying for it. But, probably those who wrote the laws to make this happen are laughing right to the bank. I have 100 houses that empty onto Parkerville by my house. There are over 500 cars that enter and leave Southwood each day – the turnover in sales is terrible, fully 70% of all traffic on Parkerville enter and leave Southwood each day. It is a pain but it is what it is so its best to plan for it becasue so many of the people do not obey the speed and traffic laws. And they just thumb their unthankful noses at us because we and the libs allow that to happen as well. When will it stop?

djd66
7 years ago
Reply to  mike fuce

Poor Depitri,…. I feel so bad for the guy that he has this land. Give me a fricken break!

To quote Bud Fox from the movie Wall Street, ” How much is enough, Gordon? When does it all end, huh? How many yachts can you water-ski behind? How much is enough, huh?”

Dipitri – how much is enough for you? This development is going to completely screw up this town. Everyone know this – including Dipitri. I truly feel sorry for the people who live in the neighborhood – they are the families that will be directly affected by this. Quite honestly, I think the Southborough Summer nights should go elsewhere for their funding.

Al Hamilton
7 years ago
Reply to  djd66

I am willing to bet that the Town assesses the land based on its development value and Mr. Depietri pays taxes on that assessment. If you want to prevent Mr. Depietri to not develop the land then the obvious thing is to make him an offer for it. You can probably pay less in taxes if you then file a conservation easement.

For better and worse, Mr. Depietri and his company are in the business of developing and managing real estate. No different, in principle, from the enterprises that most of us work for. He pays taxes (indeed his company is probably the largest taxpayer in town). His company employs people. If you want to kill this project then you are in fact advocating denying a whole bunch of blue collar jobs to carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, painters, janitors, electricians, and laborers. That is one of the costs of opposition.

As I have said, I am not crazy about this development either and it will take the wisdom of Solomon to find a formula that makes the neighborhood “whole” in this process. But, demonizing Mr. Depietri and his company serves no useful purpose. Indeed it is counter productive. If attitudes harden further, battle lines are drawn and it comes down to The Capital Group vs Town of Southborough and Neighbors, the Capital Group wins every time. The power of property rights, free enterprise, 40B, and the law are all on their side. The only small power Southborough has is the power to delay.

native
7 years ago

The voters of Southboro along with the Commonwealth voted against repealing 40B in 2010. From memory Southboro voters split 55/45 against the repeal.

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele10/ballot_questions_10/IFV_2010.pdf

Question 2 on the 2010 ballot:

Be it enacted by the People, and by their authority:
SECTION 1: Chapter 40B, sections 20 through 23, inclusive of the General Laws are hereby repealed.

SECTION 2: No provision of this act shall be interpreted as applying to, affecting, amending, or otherwise impairing the provisions of any project approved by a board of appeals or the Housing Appeals Committee pursuant to G.L. c.40B, s.20-23 before the effective date of this Act, provided that said project has been issued a building permit pursuant to the State Building Code for at least one (1) dwelling unit.

SECTION 3: The provisions of this act are severable, and if any provision of this act is
found to be unconstitutional, contrary to law, or otherwise invalid by a court of competent
jurisdiction, then the other provisions of this act shall continue to be in effect.

SECTION 4: This act shall take effect January 1, 2011.


A YES VOTE would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the state law (Ch 40B) allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.

Mike
7 years ago

You are correct and thank you, that’s 45% lib, left, dens in sboro who voted FOR 40b, redistribution of my money, people who earn money. Betsy, you are correct as well, 30% lib, left, dems did the studies and to be fair Repubs are just as bad no doubt.

Donna McDaniel
7 years ago

Whoops… Obviously I forgot all about that question on the ballot so mea culpa. And, I, who has never missed an election day. And that one was only four years ago!

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