The new year is here, and predictably, affordable housing action has picked up in Wellesley where it left off in 2017.
The developer of a proposed 55-unit housing project at 148 Weston Road that would include 11 rental units deemed affordable has had the site eligibility okayed by a quasi-public outfit called MassHousing that also finances such buildings. The town has a long list of concerns about the Wellesley Park project, including its potential impact on traffic, the environment and character of the neighborhood, and MassHousing has instructed the developer to address such issues as it moves forward with trying to get a comprehensive permit from the town. The developer might be expected to apply for such a permit within the next couple of weeks.
Neighbors, citing another 40B project proposed for Delanson Circle about a half mile away, have raised similar concerns to those aired by the town. The fact that two such projects are in the works in relative proximity to each other has ratcheted up neighbors’ concerns.
RE-EXAMINING THE TAILBY LOT
But residents opposed to these 40B developments might take heart in a new effort by the town to issue a non-binding request for proposals (RFP) related to the possible development of the Tailby parking lot on Linden Street at the Wellesley Square train station as well as the parking lot that sandwiches the train tracks from the other side. The possibility was discussed on Monday night at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting and the decision to draft an RFP was approved by the Board (tune in around the 1 hour, 32-minute mark of the Wellesley Public Media video).
“What the RFP would do is put out to the public to come up with conceptual ideas” in a process similar to what was done regarding Lower Fall parking and the 900 Worcester St., project, said assistant executive director for the BoS office Meghan Jop. The town has explored development possibilities for this space since the 1990s, and most seriously of late in 2004, when it was determined not to be economically wise, Jop said.
“Given the recent developments with 40B and proposal at Delanson Circle it’s really brought forward this notion of should we look to see if the Tailby lot… has a higher development potential,” Jop said. Development of Tailby and possibly the lot near the post office could result in an alternative to the proposed 90-unit Delanson Circle project. One scenario might even involve a scaled down version of the Delanson Circle project that syncs up with something at Tailby.
Developing the railroad parking lots would fit with the town’s effort to take more control over where housing is developed through a housing production plan and fend off 40B proposals seen by some as exploiting the fact that Wellesley has less affordable housing than what the State mandates.