The town of Medfield's response to the Medfield Meadows Chapter 40B development proposal has been cited by members of the
STB group at previous meeting as a constructive and positive example of successful community opposition.
The article from Wicked Local Medfield appended below provides some insights into the MA Housing's decision to reject the
proposal on 1/31/17. It may prove instructive for residents of Lancaster.
It appears that early, coordinated response from town of Medfield officials and residents as well as the support of their state
representatives helped to produce a favorable outcome for that community.
In its decision, MassHousing noted that the project was too big, citing height, situation, and location. It concluded that “The
proposed three to four-story apartment structures are not compatible with nearby structures in terms of height, mass and scale.”
Similarities exist with the GBE development proposed for Lancaster: wrong size, wrong site, wrong builder. It would be great
to achieve a similar result for our community.
Updating the town's housing plan, engaging better developers, and beginning to address affordable housing needs in a more
rational manner were some of the additional benefits that Medfield achieved.
Medfield Meadows rejected by MassHousing
By Alison Bosma
Posted Feb 1, 2017 at 11:12 AM
Hours before Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Medfield officials took to Twitter to announce the state’s rejection of Medfield Meadows.
“We received some terrific news today,” selectman chairman Mark Fisher said, to applause at the evening’s meeting.
The application for the locally controversial 200-unit, multi-story apartment complex proposed for Dale Street in Medfield was denied Jan. 31, according to a letter from the state housing agency.
“The Town of Medfield can now proceed with projects which are appropriate for the community,” State Rep. Denise Garlick said, in a written statement to the press, “and through positive action will have the opportunity to control its own destiny.”
The project’s initial proposal in September sparked resident outrage and action, including over 200 letters of protest sent to MassHousing, the formation of the group Oppose Medfield Meadows, lawn signs, and well-attended public meetings. Residents and state and local officials argued the project was too big for the proposed site.
In addition to writing their own letter to MassHousing, town officials reacted to resident concern by focusing on the town’s affordable housing stock, which at about 7 percent of Medfield’s total housing, is beneath the state minimum. That gives developments like Medfield Meadows more flexibility regarding local zoning laws and local approval, as long as those projects include some affordable – or 40B – housing.
Within three months, selectmen approved a housing production plan, sought 40B developers more in line with Medfield’s community, and hired an affordable housing consultant.
In October, Garlick compared Medfield’s push back against Medfield Meadows to the biblical fight between David and Goliath.
“I just can’t overemphasize how exceptional it is to have MassHousing reject a project out of hand like this,” town attorney Mark Cerel said.
In its letter, MassHousing agreed the project was too big, citing the height – “at least triple the height of most surrounding 1-2 story structures” – the fact that the buildings would take up most of the lot, and the impact on nearby neighborhoods.
“The proposed apartment structure is inconsistent with nearby existing residential building typology,” the letter from MassHousing reads. Further on it adds, “The proposed three to four-story apartment structures are not compatible with nearby structures in terms of height, mass and scale.”
Selectmen praised the movement against Medfield Meadows, emphasizing the fact that residents who spoke up were not just the abutters to the site, but also from across town, and from 40B projects already in Medfield.
“I think this was a really fine moment for Medfield and what makes our town great,” selectman Michael Marcucci said, thanking residents for their civic action.
Garlick, who attended Tuesday’s meeting to speak to residents, said the denial from MassHousing is definitive. The applicants, John Kelly and Patrick Corrigan, will have to reapply from the beginning of the process if they want to develop on the site, she said.
“I told you we were in a David and Goliath fight,” Garlick told residents Tuesday. “Tonight I’m pleased to say David won.”
The denial puts any potential new housing proposal for the site behind a handful of 40B projects Medfield officials are trying to build.
Marcucci cautioned residents not to stop paying attention, because the town still needs to improve its affordable housing percentages, in part to prevent other projects like Medfield Meadows.
“I think we should take some time to celebrate,” Marcucci said. ”....but we have more work to do.”
Applicant John Kelly declined comment on this story.
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