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Wellesley forming committee to explore possible uses of college’s North 40 property

The Wellesley Board of Selectmen has issued a statement regarding Wellesley College’s possible sale of its North 40 property along Weston Road (includes community gardens, which could be at risk of being nixed):

Wellesley College officials recently informed the Board of Selectmen, College alumnae and neighbors that they have filed a petition with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court seeking to remove the deed restrictions that currently preclude the sale of the large, undeveloped parcel of land bounded by Route 135, Weston Road and Turner Road.  This property, totaling approximately 46 acres, is commonly referred to as the “North 40”.  Clearly, the potential sale and development of this land has significant implications to our community with regards to traffic, infrastructure and municipal services.  Accordingly, the Selectmen have begun efforts to analyze the possible uses of this land, and consider whether the Town might be interested in acquiring the property or some portion thereof to address a number of outstanding municipal needs.  Toward this end, we have asked the Planning Board and School Committee for their initial thoughts regarding the future use of the property.  We are also forming a Committee to undertake a more comprehensive visioning effort.  This Committee will include representatives from a number of Town boards and neighborhood representation, and the work of the Committee will involve multiple opportunities for public input.  Further details regarding the makeup of the Committee and the Committee’s work plan will be provided shortly.

In evaluating the impact of the potential sale of this property, it is important to understand the zoning and permitting requirements that will control any future development.  The property is zoned Single Residence with a minimum 15,000 square foot lot size, which would allow the construction of a large number of one-family dwellings, by right.  This zoning would also allow educational, religious and municipal uses.  Of particular interest is the likely applicability of the new Natural Resource Protection (NRP) Development bylaw, approved at the 2013 Annual Town Meeting.  This bylaw applies to developments that would yield 5 or more residential lots, allowing lot sizes and dimensional requirements to be reduced (to a minimum of 7,500 square feet in the SRD15) without increasing density, and requiring a minimum of 50% of the site be preserved as open space.

The Selectmen remain committed to evaluating our needs and resources as we analyze this opportunity and balance the interests of the College and their rights as a property owner, with those of the neighborhood and broader community.  We look forward to working with all interested parties on this important initiative.

Terri Tsagaris, Chair
Board of Selectmen
April 30, 2014 
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