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ZBA Hears from Town Consultant Regarding Water and Safety Issues on 40B Project

The ZBA consultant said he had several issues with the plans for the affordable housing project proposed off West Street. ZBA also plans to hold a meeting for public comment in September.

On Monday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals discussed water issues related to the proposed 40B housing complex proposed on West Street.

This was a continued public hearing on the application by The Gatehouse Group, LLC for “,” a 96-unit residential complex in two buildings on 9.22 acres of industrial land between West Street and North Meadows Road (Route 27).

 “Tonight we’re talking about water,” said ZBA Chairman Robert Sylvia, of the property that is close to the Charles River.  “[The project] is in the wetlands, and the presence of the property in the watershed protection district, and the fact that it’s in the aquifer protection zone means we need to examine the impact of those issues and what can or should be done on this site.”

Town Consultant Tom Houston told the board that he had reviewed the plans and was impressed with the detail.

He also said that, of the 60 issues – large and small – that he found with the plans, Gatehouse was in agreement on several but disagreed on some.

Issues of concern to Houston included fire truck access, bus stops, raised crosswalks, site lighting, catch basins that should be upgraded to stormceptors, roof water connection systems, spillway structures, increase in number of shade trees,  and replication of the area they will disturb within the 50 foot No Touch zone. 

Houston also expressed concern about site modifications that will need to be done to abutting 120 North Meadows Road to make The Parc at Medfield a viable project; and said that an area of significant concern is the proposed level of cover over sections of the sewer line.  The plans call for six inches of cover which Houston said is unacceptable.

“I would consider 12 inches unacceptable,” Houston said.  “If you start getting utility lines real close to the surface, you’ll get cracking.  This is New England; we have frost penetration down to four feet so to have only one foot of height is not acceptable.”

“My concern with the project is there are some [issues] that cannot be resolved,” Sylvia said, noting that many issues – including the flood plain issues – about which the town and the applicant are in disagreement. 

These issues affect both the town and the future inhabitants of the development, he said.

Sylvia also noted the town has a by-law that prohibits buildings over two stories tall.  The Gatehouse buildings are three stories.

Fire Chief William Kingsbury that the town does not have the necessary trucks to fight a three-story fire.  

“Let’s face facts,” Sylvia said.  “This is not Chelsea or Revere or Boston, we don’t have experience in our fire department fighting high-rise fires so whether we should go forward…when our bylaws say they shouldn’t be more than two stories tall, is a troubling question.”

Sylvia asked Houston what he thought the level of risk is for the town. 

“There’s a risk in any human-accessible site,” said Houston, adding that the more vehicles and people on the site, the greater the risk.  “The more vehicles on the site, there’s more potential of spills of materials that could affect groundwater.”

Said Houston, “I would regard the design as consistent with contemporary engineering practice [but] I would be happier if the recommendations that we included for various modifications were to be included.”

The ZBA will meet next on August 27 to discuss the project’s architecture.  Sylvia said a subsequent (and likely final) meeting will be held in September for the public to issue final comment on The Parc at Medfield.

“We will schedule a meeting in September at which any member of the public can ask questions, offer comments, make suggestions and the like…particularly from people in the neighborhood, we want to hear their reaction,” Sylvia said.  

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