Residents concerned by ZBA’s increased pace on Park Central hearings

A controversial proposed 40B project at Park Central has been in the works since January 2013. Now some residents are expressing concerned over a stepped up pace in the proceedings.

Throughout the process hearings have often been postponed and deadlines extended. But now, the developer and Zoning Board of Appeals appear to be gaining momentum on the project.

Last week, the ZBA reviewed plans and scheduled three more meetings to take place this week through early December. The developer, Capital Group Properties, will also be in front of the Conservation Commission this week.

A concerned abutter wrote of the stepped up pace in meetings:

It is curious, because in the past, it took the board much time to even schedule one meeting, and now they have scheduled several in quick succession to approve this project. I am concerned that the largest development project Southborough has ever seen is being rushed through.

It’s a sentiment that echoes a complaints lodged by other abutters at the meeting last Monday.

Last week, Capital Group Properties representatives walked the ZBA through engineered site plans. The board said they would be sending the plans to other relevant committees and asking for any responses by November 26 (Thanksgiving). Town engineering consultants will also submit comments by that date.

To continue things moving, the consultants have been authorized to work through any engineering issues with the developer on the board’s behalf. They hope to have technical issues worked through in time for the December meetings. 

Neighbor Wendy DeMichaelis was confused by the engineering plan’s inclusion of land where additional townhouses under a use variance will be built at Park Central.

ZBA Chair Leo Bartolini Bartolini clarified that specific site plan details of the Use Variance are under the Planning Board. But the underlying site it is part of the 40B development. That means the ZBA will rule on the driveways, the roadways, the water, the drainage, and the sewage. (He later further clarified that doesn’t include the sewage system or plant, which is under state authority).

DeMichaelis then expressed her concern about the tight timeframe given for conversations between engineers and town boards for full deliberation.

Another abutter, Howard Rose asked why the board wasn’t asking for a revised traffic study based on revised plans for both. Bartolini responded that the study had been based on 586 units and the revised plans are for less than 400 units.

Rose worried about the process with multiple boards and a stepped up schedule:

we have gotten to the point where we seem to be pushing this project straight through without dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of how the whole project goes together, where one board doesn’t know what the other board is doing and has the chance to finalize everything and put it together.

The upcoming ZBA meetings are scheduled for this Wednesday night to discuss landscaping and (tentatively), December 2nd and 9th.*

The Conservation Commission meeting is is scheduled for Thursday night. The 8:05 pm hearing is to review wetland boundaries at Park Central. Also on the meeting agenda is a request from the ZBA for comment on storm water management for the development.

According to Southborough Wicked Local, developer Bill Depietri said he doesn’t expect project approval to happen this year. (But with 2015 almost at an end, I’m not sure that’s of comfort to concerned neighbors.)

For more on the Park Central 40B development:

*Bartolini asked to schedule the 12/2 and 12/9 meetings to let people know the direction they’re headed. He qualified that at the 11/18 or 12/2 meetings they could decide to postpone the subsequent meeting if “something comes up” to warrant it.

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