Once again, hearings on projects at Park Central were continued for another day. (Specifically, January 7th.)
In previous meetings, the Zoning Board of Appeals pushed for the Use Variance permit to be resolved by last night, so the board could act on the linked 40B project.
Last night, the board voted to continue the 40B hearing and bring in Town Counsel. They will be getting their attorney up to speed on hearings to date, and he will be involved in future meetings.
According to Chair Leo Bartolini, the action was recommended by selectmen. This followed a letter from the Planning Board to the ZBA and shared with the Board of Selectmen advised seeking counsel.
The same letter also urged the ZBA to deny the 40B permit.
The letter was read into record without comments. It is scheduled for discussion at the next meeting. (But developer Bill Depietri hasn’t waited to make his feelings known. More on that later.)
Before the continuance, Depietri agreed to a board request. The developer will cover costs for use of a Mass Housing consultant in some future stages. (That consultant had been paid for under a grant by Mass Housing. The grant ran out.)
The Use Variance permit hearing was continued at the request of Depitei at support of abutters. It was his second continuance request in a row.
Attorney Dan Hill, representing neighbors, assured the board that these continuances have been productive. He said they have been working with the developer and making progress.
Depietri asserted that by January 7th he’ll be ready to move forward with or scrap the Use Variance.
Another letter from the Planning Board was read into record for discussion at the next meeting. This letter questioned the propriety of approving a Use Variance permit to impose conditions on a 40B.
The letters were written by Planning Board Chair Don Morris at approval of the board. At the November 17th Planning Board meeting, Morris told board members that he believed it was their job to comment on the Park Central projects:
We’re an elected board and people would expect us to have an opinion on such an enormous revision.
Referring to increased traffic from the project on Flagg Road, Lovers Lane and Deerfoot Road among others, Morris stated, “It just doesn’t pass that sanity test for safety.”
Member Phil Jenks warned that a ZBA denial would result in developer appeal. He furthered the “pro-developer” housing committee has a history of overruling claims that increased traffic on narrow, windy roads is a safety issue.
But Jenks and the rest of the board agreed that they should submit the letter anyway. Morris summed up sentiments:
If we don’t do the letter, then I don’t think we’re doing our job. And if we do the letter and it crashes and burns, at least we tried. That’s our job – is to try.
According to Southborough Wicked Local, Depietri objects to the letters. He stated the Planning Board’s claims were inaccurate. Two traffic studies and a peer review concluded that the 40B project wouldn’t pose safety risks.
“The streets can more than handle the additional traffic,” [Depietri] said.
Depietri said the hearings have been taking place over the past year and Planning Board members “need to be more informed.”
“I don’t think anyone on the Planning Board reviewed or read the traffic reports,” he said. “Prior to them writing off-the-cuff letters they should get up to speed.”
To read that full article, click here.
The ZBA has scheduled both hearings for Wednesday, January 7. The 40B will be scheduled for 7:30 pm, but Bartolini expects to continue that to the end of the meeting. That would allow the board to hold the 7:35 pm Use Variance hearing first.
Update (12/4/14 3:30 pm): I corrected the section about the Use Variance continuance. I was corrected by a reader that the request was made by DePietri, not the abutters.