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ZBA to Finalize 40B Decision Today

The Zoning Board of Appeals will finalize its decision today on The Parc at Medfield, an affordable housing project off West Street. The board approved the project on Thursday with a vote of 2 to 1.

The Board of Appeals on Zoning will meet today to finalize its decision on The Parc at Medfield, an affordable housing project proposed off West Street.

The meeting will be held in the Chenery Room at Town Hall at 4 p.m.

A final decision in the case must be filed by Dec. 14.

After months of hearings and testimony from department heads and professional consultants, the board voted on Thursday to approve the project 2 to 1.

Chairman Robert Sylvia was the dissenting vote, and resigned after the hearing was closed.

Sylvia, who had served on the board for 40 years, said the board needed to stand on principal and deny the project or at least go with his recommendation to reduce the size of the project -- from 96 units to 60 units, a reduction of approximately 35 percent, as proposed in an approval letter he drafted over the previous week -- but his fellow board members disagreed. 

ZBA members Russell Hallissey and Charles Peck agreed to approve the project with conditions that will be finalized at today's meeting.

Both men said they were acting on the advice of legal counsel and on the recommendations of consultants who had weighed in during the hearing process. 

Historically, the Housing Appeals Court has overturned nearly every local decision to reject a affordable housing projects if the municipality does not have 10 percent of its housing stock as affordable. Medfield has just over four percent. 

Sylvia said the project, at 92 units (which accepts Gatehouse's offer to reduce the size by four units) "is bad for the town of Medfield, I know it is" and said the decision he spent 40 hours drafting was done in a way that the town could defend its position.

Town Counsel Mark Cerel disagreed, adding the town is facing "overwhelming obstacles" in this case. 

"There is definitely a downside to this as far as litigation goes," Cerel said. "In this case, you have a case where the developer has made concessions, whether you consider that a value or not, it was made very clear in the submittal to you...that was going away if this goes to appeal." 

Peck said, "I will support 92 units with all of the protections that we can get." 

Hallissey made a motion "to approve the application for 92 units subject to our next meeting [today] ironing out the various conditions." 

"I really think it's a mistake," said Sylvia, who tendered his resignation after the board took its vote. 

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