The Wellesley Board of Selectmen has raised a boatload of concerns in its comments to the quasi-public MassHousing agency regarding the proposed 40B project on Stearns Road, just across the parking lot from Sprague Elementary School. A 36-unit residential housing development is proposed on the site, which formerly contained a single-family home. The town says the project is “too intense” for its location, on about an acre plot.
This proposal is one of a handful of possible 40B projects that have cropped up in Wellesley this year, including another nearby on Rte. 9 East (680 Worcester St.).
The Board of Selectmen’s letter reads in part: “The Town finds the location of the proposed project unacceptable given the limited access to the site and proximity to the 680 Worcester Street project (proposed by the same developer) currently in Site Eligibility review with MassHousing. The Town finds the project’s density, scale, and height incompatible with the neighborhood and finds the project will have a detrimental impact on abutters due to mass, scale, and traffic based on both its independent construction and relationship to the 680 Worcester Street Project…”
The BoS goes on to cite issues with the project requiring “a tremendous removal of site material and the installation of 7-11 foot retaining walls along the abutting properties with no fencing proposed.” The Fire Department has expressed concern over access to the structure, which would be the highest residential one in town at 81-feet at one point (Stearns Road is a dead end street comprising 17 single-family homes). Water, sewage and stormwater management are all concerns as well for the town. (Read the entire letter below.)
Stearns Road residents opposed to the project have rallied to get their voices heard as well, and have spearheaded the Our Affordable Wellesley campaign in town.
The scary fact for them is that 40B projects rarely get shot down in Massachusetts communities that lack enough affordable housing units.
The Wellesley BoS makes its pitch to MassHousing that it is trying its best to get to 10% of its housing stock being affordable, including via zoning changes and subsidized housing development. Because Wellesley is only at 6.3% now, it is vulnerable to 40B proposals that allow developers to get around zoning rules in exchange for including affordable units in their projects. The town is working on a housing production plan to better document its efforts and to eventually get the town to 10% affordability, and has been scouring its records to find affordable units that have been unaccounted for.
Jean Walsh says
The picture posted in this article shot from the “dead end” side of Stearns Road really tells the story – there are 7 small houses on Stearns Rd. that connect to Francis Road another “dead end” street of 10 houses – only accessible to the rest of town from one opening on Francis Road to Route 9. Currently the existing 17 homeowners struggle with safety issues leaving and returning to the neighborhood from the high speed traffic of Route 9. How in the world do you fit 70+ more cars and 36 more families into this tiny neighborhood? Not safe for existing families and the new families who would likely move in.
Phil L says
Good point Jean! And to add icing onto the cake they would add yet another traffic light on route 9 to accommodate all those additional vehicles. Great! That’s all Wellesley needs is another traffic light. Really good idea. That way we can all get nowhere anywhere anytime ever.
Crazy..these dumb developers! Wellesley is already built out. Traffic tie ups from one end to the other. Too small a space like all the other proposed sites. Wellesley is an eyesore of buildings and mansions now. Why don’t they look to other Towns like Weston, Sudbury, Wayland, etc. There are plenty of other Towns in Massachusetts. Why do they want to build here? Our Schools are crowded enough closely maxing 30 kids to a class. This Town is way overcrowded already and the traffic is getting unbearable. They have run out of space and now want to crowd out small neighborhoods even more,,on a dead end street? Absolutely ridiculous!!
Bill (Wellesley resident for 30 years) says
Agree with Tris and Jean! These greedy developers want to build huge housing complexes in the middle of single family home neighborhoods. What is this Houston?! You can’t build these projects here. It does not mesh with the community and the town as it currently exists. I would urge the BoS to continue to protect Wellesley from these land grabbing, money grubbing developers. Do these people live in Wellesley? NO. Do they care about the negative consequences of these projects? NO. Because they build it, make a nickel at the residents expense, and move on to their next project somewhere else. And the politicians in Beacon Hill are no better! Since when is applying a blanket policy across all our beautiful and distinctly different towns and communities in this state a good idea? NEVER. Wellesley is not the place to be building huge new housing complexes. It just isn’t.
Thank you BoS for continuing to protect our town.