This is the second part of a three-part series regarding this property. To read part one, click here.
With an affordable housing rate of approximately 4.4 percent, the town of Medfield does not have the state-mandated minimum amount (10 percent) of affordable housing units in the community, which makes it easy for developers to use the affordable housing law – also known as Chapter “40B” – to get the permits needed to build affordable housing units.
The latest proposal in Medfield, 'The Parc at Medfield,' calls for 96 units to be built on industrial land between Route 27 and West Street – a street that was intended to mark the boundary between industrial and residential zones.
“I would clearly prefer that any developer, seeking to build in town, seek to use lands the town has indicated are intended to be used for the proposed use, rather than using the 40B route to side step our zoning so that they can develop in other parts of town,” said Osler Peterson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, which received the latest proposal last month.
“I think it is a poor location for any housing, given that the town has zoned the land for industrial uses … putting dwellings there goes against the town's plan as to where things should to be located in town,” Peterson said.
The Executive Summary of the application filed by Gatehouse Group LLC of Mansfield describes the 9.22 acre parcel as “an underutilized industrially-zoned property that is extremely well-suited for re-use as a multi-family infrastructure.”
The application also indicates the site is “located in a floodplain or wetlands area.”
Records show that Gatehouse signed a purchase and sale agreement for $1.65 million in October with seller Lawrence Rothschild, manager of Medfield North Meadows.
The affordable housing law – also known as the “anti-snob” zoning law – was passed in 1969 and says that every community in the Commonwealth must have at least 10 percent of its available housing at an “affordable” rate. If it does not, as in Medfield, developers can essentially build any project in any place without regard for local zoning law.
If a municipality rejects a proposal, the developer can easily appeal to the state where the project is typically rubber-stamped.
The Parc at Medfield is described as a “96-unit garden style apartment complex” where 100 percent of the units would qualify as “affordable” and would “help alleviate the shortage of affordable homes in Medfield and the surrounding region and provide a much-needed rental housing choice.”
Gatehouse indicates the two-building project will be built in two phases with 48 units in each building and will include 12 one-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom, and 12 three-bedroom units.
The suggested rent for the units is $625, $900 and $1,050, respectively.
The project would also include a clubhouse community center for residents, a maintenance facility, outdoor recreation facilities including a “tot lot” and picnic area.
The application says the “affordable rental community” is designed to “meet ‘green building’ standards and embody the principals of sustainable development.”