The developers of proposed 40B projects at 148 Weston Road (near the community gardens) and Delanson Circle (off Linden Street) aired non-40B alternatives that would greatly reduce the size of the buildings and number of units. The nearly 30 affordable units included in the original plans to gain the developers possible zoning breaks under the state’s 40B statute would largely go away under the revised scheme for condos to be offered at market rate (i.e., $$$) prices. This would allow developers to still make a profit while providing far fewer 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom units overall.
The plans, making their way through state and town approval processes since 2017, have been criticized by residents and town officials for being too dense for the existing neighborhoods. Concerns include worsening traffic, pedestrian safety and more. Developers have sought to take advantage of Wellesley’s relatively small affordable housing stock under 40B rules in light of many surrounding communities already having safeguards against unfriendly developments in place, and the town has taken steps over the past year or so to gain more control, such as by creating a housing production plan.
Town officials and neighbors of the proposed 148 Weston Road and Delanson Circle projects have applauded efforts by the developers to drastically revise their projects, though would still like to see smaller buildings and fewer or smaller units. The developers say they have begun receiving OKs from fire and other officials on their original plans, but still are open to revised projects. The Board of Selectmen set in motion on Monday the crafting of possible placeholders on the warrant (regarding amendments to zoning bylaws) to be discussed at this coming spring’s Town Meeting.
“I don’t believe we have the option of avoiding anything” happening at the locations, said Board of Selectmen Chair Jack Morgan. Getting placeholders in place on the warrant will put pressure on the town and developers to move things forward, he said.
For the Wellesley Crossing project on Delanson Circle, the developer’s proposed changes would include slashing the number of units from 90 to 42 and the number of parking spaces from 132 to 76. Setback space would double and the overall building volume would decrease by 25%. The developers have also snapped up a couple of properties on bordering Hollis Street, and they would used for affordable units as part of the complex. The average size of units under the condo plan would be closer to 1,700-1,800 sq. ft., about double the
average of the original plan, though much smaller than those being proposed for a possible development at the Tailby Lot property across the street, according to developer Victor Sheen. The developers say the building would shrink from 5 to 4 stories, though neighbors contend that it’s still really 5 stories if you count the garage, so they’d like to see 1 more floor nixed.
As for Wellesley Park project at 148 Weston Road, the proposed change would result in 18 rather than 55 units, and the design would include a gabled roof and other architectural features aimed at making the building fit in. Planning Director Michael Zehner, addressing the possibility of the project retaining affordable units, said developers explained they’d need to include more than 20 units overall to make that viable. While not addressing the lack of affordable units directly, developer Sheen did say that the project would still cater to residents looking for easy access to public transportation and shopping via new sidewalks on the west side of Weston Road. The building would shrink from 5 to 3 stories under the new plan, and would be set back much further from the neighboring North 40 woodlands. To view the Board of Selectmen discussion on the projects, check out the Wellesley Public Media recording below at around the 2-hour mark. The discussion lasts for a bit more than an hour.