Despite having been informed of a potential major error in calculations regarding the number of units at the proposed Millwood active adult housing development, the Framingham Planning Board attempted to approve the project Thursday night without even allowing public comment despite many residents waiting four hours to speak on the matter.
With a project this size, there is every reason to take the time needed to hear all voices to get it right!
In addition, the Planning Board finalized a set of 96 conditions on the development only Thursday, making them available to the public that night at 6 pm, and spent much of Thursday’smeeting time acquiescing to the complaints of the attorney for the Millwood developer.
This “negotiating” finally ended at 10:55 pm and the board was poised to vote on the project. Only the outcries of the many residents in attendance caused the chair to allow the discussion to continue on Monday.
This item could have easily been taken up earlier in the meeting allowing for at least some transparency in the process. It was not. It was saved until last, and then the Chair attempted to rush the item through for approval having been made aware of the issue with calculations and never addressing them during the discussion of the project.
This is not the kind of transparency and responsiveness that was promised in our transition to a city and I urge the Planning Board to hold off on any decision until city officials and the developer can find a compromise to address major concerns about the density of this project.
A little history: In September of 2016, Framingham Town Meeting chose not to purchase the Millwood Golf Course and to allow the course to be developed by Capital Group Properties as outlined in an agreement with our Board of Selectmen. The majority of open space in the proposed project is defined by the original agreement with the Selectmen, which required that about 30 acres nearest to Callahan State Park in the 65-acre property be preserved as open space.
The adult active component of our zoning bylaw provides clear guidelines on the number of allowable units and bedrooms in a 55+ development based on buildable land area. A nearby resident has pointed out that this project as it is currently defined may conflict with the zoning regulation and certainly warrants further review.
The total area of the parcel is roughly 69 acres.
To arrive at the buildable area, several subtractions are required including open space, which in this project should be at least the 30 acres defined in the agreement with the Board of Selectmen. When all of these required factors are included, the buildable land area of this project is around 23 acres, not the 32 currently being proposed.
This difference is so important because buildable land area is what determines the density of the project.
The Active Adult section of our zoning bylaw allows for 8 bedrooms per buildable acre. With an inaccurate buildable acreage of around 32 acres, the Planning Board is allowing the developer to include up to 249 bedrooms in the project when it should be closer to 180.
The Planning Board should pause their move to approve this project and consider and respond to this new information before making any decision.
This will allow time for the developer, residents and city officials to negotiate an agreement that will accurately reflect our zoning bylaw and also produce a good project for all parties involved.