Wellesley Crossing 40B project at Delanson Circle clears hurdle

Delanson Circle, Wellesley

The proposed 40B project at Delanson Circle across from the Wellesley Square train station parking lot has received a key preliminary approval from a nonprofit outfit that works with the state to boost affordable housing production.

The proposed Wellesley Crossing project off of Linden Street gained public awareness over the summer — and was soon followed by a handful of other 40B plans that developers are looking to build out in light of Wellesley’s overall stock of affordable housing not being large enough by state standards. Under the 40B statute, builders get leeway on zoning rules in exchange for including affordable units in their projects.

Neighbors have argued that plunking down 90 rental units on Delanson Circle will create serious traffic and safety issues, as well as greatly change the feel of the neighborhood. The Massachusetts Housing Partnership, however, has given preliminary site eligibility approval, specifying that “the site of the proposed Project is an appropriate location for residential development.” It says that the site is zoned for residential development, is within walking distance of assorted services (i.e., Linden Square shops), and is near public transportation. MHP found the developer’s revised plans, including one less story than originally proposed, to be acceptable. The project also appears to be a good bet to get financing, according to MHP.

Only a few 40B proposals in recent years have been shot down by organizations like MHP that work with the state. The quasi-public MassHousing agency hasn’t rejected the site eligibility of proposed 40Bs at 680 Worcester St., and Stearns Road in Wellesley but has asked the developer to revise its plans.

MHP acknowledges that Wellesley, which is now working on a housing production plan and interviewing consultants this Friday, has taken steps in recent years to boost its affordable housing stock. But the fact remains that the town’s stock of affordable housing is below the 10% threshold sought by the state, and that makes it vulnerable to 40B proposals.

Meanwhile, the developer still has lots of work to to. It’s expected that a Comprehensive Permit plan will be submitted to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals shortly. After that, there could be appeals, and the developer will need to sort out funding.

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Latest on 135 Great Plain Ave. 40B plan

Separately, the town has sent a letter to MassHousing regarding the proposed 40B development at 135 Great Plain Ave.  The town says that the architectural design of the 44-unit Great Plain project fits in, but has a list of questions regarding traffic impact, public safety (pedestrians/cyclists) and stormwater management. The town says the development, located near the Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility on Rte. 135,  would essentially double the size of the neighborhood.

The developer originally planned to build 12 separate homes but determined later that it would not be financially feasible.

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