ZBA: Park Central agreement “close” and townhouses back on table; 84 Main St owner looking to develop B&B

Above: On May 27th, the ZBA will address a controversial project at Park Central property and a much hoped for project at 84 Main Street. (Left image from Google Maps; photo right by Kate Mattison)

The Zoning Board of Appeals heard from owners of two high-interest properties in town last night: Park Central and the Burnett/Garfield Estate.

Developer William Depietri indicated he is close to coming to an agreement with neighbors his proposed 40B project at Park Central. Depietri told the ZBA there are only”two or three items”  he and neighbors still need to come together on.

The Capital Group Properties owner received a continuance on the hearing. The controversial project will be back in front of the board on July 29th.

At the same time, the board scheduled opening of a public hearing for a Use Variance permit at the site. The developer will be looking to revisit past plans to build townhouses on the commercially zoned land.

The townhouse project is one he earlier scrapped when still in dispute with abutters over the 40B project. A new hearing for that will take place May 27th at 7:30 pm. (When it does, the make-up of the board will be altered. Member Lisa Capello has moved out of town.)

Next, the board heard from an attorney representing the owner of 84 Main Street. Jon Delli Priscolli is continuing to pursue ways to preserve the historic estate and buildings. The current focus is Use Variance approval to turn the Stone House into a Bed and Breakfast with the Carriage House as an annex to the B&B with a manager’s suite and 1-2 units.

He is also looking at converting the chapel into an antique shop with “a few period items for sale on a very occasional basis”.

According to his attorney, if approved it would still need to proceed to a Town Meeting for approval of “Conservation Restrictions”. 

Attorney William Pezzoni walked the board through the owner’s history with the property and interest in preservation. Looking forward, he said they have determined that there is a market for a B&B at the estate to support itself.

Pezzoni said he confirmed with administrators at St. Mark’s and Fay boarding schools that visiting parents would be interested. He also heard from CEOs of Fortune 500s that live in town that they would be interested in putting up visiting high level executives there rather than a local “Sheraton”. The site would also be used for weddings and functions.

The attorney also pointed out that as a B&B the grounds would be open for the public to come in and see what the grounds look like.

Priscolli explained that he chapel would be restored to a 19th century period chapel that could also be used for small private services. He also said that the Carriage House could also become a single family house.

Other enhancements he talked about were beautifying the town owned land at the edge with plantings and benches.

Thomas Bhisitkul said that he was concerned about granting a Use Variance without it being linked to the Conservation Restrictions that help preserve the property. Priscolli called that a “nonstarter”. He told the board that the reason he has both the four lot approval (granted but not filed) and a demolition permit is in case he can’t get his Use Variance “and I can’t come to grips with selectmen, then I have to resort to defcon five.”

Selectman Paul Cimino followed up to help clarify Priscolli’s position – the Use Variance is only sought for a single lot use. If he can’t successfully pursue his plan for the lot, that’s when he’d look to split it for sale. So, the ZBA can specify that splitting of the lots would nullify the Use Variance.

Members of the Friends of the Burnett House spoke in support of a Use Variance if it preserves the property. No residents spoke in opposition.

Chair Leo Bartolini said that he wasn’t opposed to anything, but he was concerned about making “everything proper”. He had several questions about paperwork and specific approvals needed. He planned to follow up with Town Counsel.

The hearing was continued to May 27th at 7:00 pm.

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Allan Bezanson
9 years ago

The new plan to restore the stone house, carriage house, old chapel, summer house and the landscaping of the 4.7 acre lot at 84 Main is stunning in a wonderful way, to say the least. Jon Delli Priscolli has come up with a comprehensive proposal that deserves the highest praise. As John Rooney and Paul Cimino pointed out, creating a B&B here satisfies an important need that goes beyond the historic significance. DEERFOOT, as it is to be called, could be the new showcase for the soul of Southborough.

When you travel extensively, as I did for about forty years, you appreciate soul. Some places have it, some don’t. On the few occasions I stayed in historic B&B’s I was left with lasting fond impressions. Places where you had a good feeling about doing business. And looked forward to returning. The Burnett-Garfield home as a B&B, to be so aptly renamed DEERFOOT, will re-establish the legacy of the extraordinary Joseph Burnett, and will itself become a destination.

This 1912 drawing by Frank Chouteau Brown is on display in Southborough’s museum, a gift from St. Mark’s School. SOUTHBORO ARMS was the destination that reflected the soul of our town at the time.


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