On Monday, it was the public’s turn to ask questions of developer Gatehouse Group LLC, the group that proposes an affordable housing project off West Street.
The public has been following The Parc at Medfield since it was proposed in January but has not had an opportunity to ask questions while the ZBA gathered information from the applicant and town consultants.
“The members of the public, at my request, have been generally silent in these hearings,” said Board of Appeals on Zoning Chairman Robert Sylvia before opening the hearing to the general public. “They have waited for their turn and we’ll listen to it, and listen to it fairly for as long as it takes.”
For about 90 minutes on Monday, residents raised issues regarding town finances, wetland issues, and the overall detrimental impact they say the 96-unit complex would have on the town.
The project is proposed to be built on industrial land (near the former Potpourri building) between Route 27 and West Street – a street that was intended to mark the boundary between industrial and residential zones.
The Executive Summary of Gatehouse’s application describes the 9.22 acre parcel (with limited upland) as “an underutilized industrially-zoned property that is extremely well-suited for re-use as a multi-family infrastructure.”
Resident Richard DeSorgher disagrees and told the ZBA he is concerned that the residential project will take up valuable industrial land and its potential to generate future revenue.
“The town has very little industrial land,” DeSorgher said. “We are 90 percent residential which means the tax burden falls on the residential property owner. “Now you’re taking what little industrial-zoned land we have and you’re going to make it residential.”
DeSorgher said he hopes the board does not approve the project because it is not an appropriate use of the land but, if it did, that they would consider recommendations made at last month’s meeting by Davis Square Architects which performed an architectural review on the town's behalf.
Residents also questioned how a development that consists only of affordable housing units -- which will rent at below-market values (the rate of which has not yet been set but could be 60% or 80% of current market value) – will affect town finances.
They expressed concern that the additional expenses will affect the town's bottom line and credit rating, and will negatively affect its ability to do business.
Another key question was if the school budget can accomodate the additional 60 or 70 students -- a number the ZBA thinks is low due to the reputation of the Medfield school district -- the development is expected to add to the schools.
Shawn Collins of nearby Baker Road was concerned that the town had not yet received a financial review on the project. He said, before the town makes a decision on the project, it should know what kind of revenue the property will generate for the town as well as the expenses.
“How is it going to hit us in our pocketbooks because it’s going to affect our future tax rates?,” Collins asked. “I think the townspeople have a right to know.”
Sylvia agreed with Collins and said a review would be done before the hearing is closed on October 31 (an extension that was granted by Gatehouse during Monday’s meeting) and that the public will have a chance to comment on the results.
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- And more...