Concerned and curious residents will file into the auditorium at Blake Middle School Tuesday as town officials hold a public informational meeting on Chapter 40B and the 96-unit apartment complex proposal on West Street.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
It was clear to town officials at State Representative Denis Garlick's "State-of-the-State" address in Town Hall on Feb. 1 that Chapter 40B needed to be addressed in a public forum after residents in attendance voiced concern over the legislation and specifically, the West Street proposal.
“[Town Administrator] Mike Sullivan and I attended a meeting with Denise Garlick, who was delivering a presentation on how legislation occurs and there was a tremendous amount of discussion that evening about the 40B process and the particular project proposed on West Street,” said Board of Selectmen chair Osler Peterson. “Mike and I agreed it made absolute sense to have an informational meeting for residents in town and we would try to set that up.”
Those discussions between Sullivan and Peterson continued at the Feb. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting, where the selectmen agreed a public informational meeting was needed to address the concerns of residents and answer questions they may have.
Selectmen asked Town Counsel Mark Cerel to be present at the informational meeting to provide legal insight into Chapter 40B, answer questions from residents and explain the town's options for such proposals like the one on West Street.
Cerel agreed to the selectmen's request, despite making it clear to a room of about 30 residents at the Feb. 7 BOS meeting that there isn't much to discuss in terms of options for the town.
“I don’t want to give anyone any false expectations,” Cerel said at the Feb. 7 BOS meeting. “The town has very few options in defensing these 40B projects as long as we are under 10 percent of affordable housing in the town. … I don’t want you to shoot the messenger. I’m not happy with it but it is what it is.”
Peterson added once a proposal is made, like the one on West Street is expected to be, there isn't much the town can do to prevent it from being developed until it reaches its 10 percent Chapter 40B requirement.
"We are just stuck dealing with this proposal [on West Street],” Peterson said.
Medfield’s current percentage of affordable housing offered in town is approximately 4.4 percent – meaning until it reaches the state's 10 percent requirement, it may be subject to 40B proposals like the 96-unit apartment complex on West Street for the foreseeable future.
In an effort to provide residents with information on 40B and the West Street project in advance of Tuesday's meeting, the town created a Chapter 40B informational page on its website. To view the page, click here.
So Medfield, we want to know ...
Today's question: Are you planning to attend Tuesday's public meeting on 40B? What are you hoping to take away from the meeting?