Residents Tells Developers Keep Nobscot ‘Rural’; ‘We Don’t Need Restaurants or Retail’
FRAMINGHAM – More than 125 individuals attended a meeting last night, hosted by J&Co, and told them don’t mess with Nobscot.
Almost everyone who spoke at the meeting, said they wanted the land in the Nobscot section of the City of Framingham not to be re-zoned.
Many said they moved to Nobscot for its residential “rural” charm and that restaurants, retail stores, and apartments are not wanted.
The meeting was held at Historic Village Hall. It was changed from the Christa McAuliffe Library, as the developers expected a large crowd and the library could only hold accommodate 55 to 65 individuals.
J&CO, which includes developers Steve Cucinatti & Rick Vallarelli, do plan to file a request with the City to change the zoning for about 32 acres of land near the intersection of Edmands Road & Edgell Road to B4.
Even after hearing from the abutters and other residents last night, the developers said after the meeting they plan to file with the City to change the zoning of about 32 acres to B4 zoning.
The developers said the City of Framingham’s Economic Development Strategy Plan, Phase 1 has as a goal to “consolidate parcels to create a large area for the development of a mix of housing types such as apartments, condominiums, townhouses, duplexes, or cottages.” And they said their plans does that.
The developers own about 13 acres and have an agreement to purchase an adjacent 13 acres of land.
If the zoning change is approved by the City, Cucinatti told the audience the proposed development – at this time – would include 350 apartments, 50 townhouses, 16 duplexes, 33,000 square feet of retail, and a 100,000 square-foot, two story assisted living facility.
Based on a study, Steve said the development could add an additional 30 students to the public school district, which is already at more than 9,200 students.
“This project does not fit. We don’t want more stores or restaurants,” said Annie Murphy who lives on Edmands Road. “We don’t need restaurants. We don’t need stores. Your website talks about community desires. The community does not desire this project.”
“This is a residential neighborhood. And now you want to completely change it and put this monstrosity in here, and ruin the quality of life for anybody who lives here,” said another resident.
Cucinatti during his presentation, at the start of last night’s meeting, said that project would bring “diversity of housing to the North side” of the City.
But the crowd, many of whom were senior citizens and mostly white, said they were happy with the North side of Framingham remaining rural and country-like, and without apartments, especially with 150 units going in at the former Nobscot Plaza, that were approved but have yet to be constructed.
Alisa Feldman of Edmands Road said she bought her house in 1986 as it was a “countrified and totally residential neighborhood.”
“We have a problem. Take a look at that picture – the first picture. Does that not look like Baltimore’s ghetto row house housing? Is that what you want – to ghettoize North Framingham?,” said Feldman. I want to talk to the Mayor and all the City Council people. You were elected and you can be impeached. You can be thrown out in the next election, if you rubber stamp this project.”
Feldman said Edmands is a “narrow winding hill road. You can’t expand it.”
“I am dead set against commercial zoning for this area. And to anyone here who has a business who’s hoping to put a restaurant or supermarket in there, we will protest and we will not utilize it because we have enough shopping in this area,” said Feldman.
Many in the audience were concerned about traffic, if the zoning is approved.
“I want to help you right now with your traffic survey. How many people in this room have had trouble going from Edmands onto Edgell & Water? How many have tried to do that with school buses and parents dropping off and picking up kids? You can’t even get a fire out of that fire station. It’s so congested.,” said Feldman.
“We could have purchased anywhere in Greater Boston and we specifically chose this neighborhood here to buy the house in this neighborhood because we wanted to live here. It was historic, because it’s pastoral, because it’s quiet. It is a beautiful, lovingly neighborhood,” said Kate Caroline who lives on Edmands Road. “What you’ve proposed here is completely altering the nature … We specifically looked here because it’s quiet, cause it’s rural. We’re not looking for restaurants and shops.”
Toni Benhaim, who lives on Livoli Road, said the abutters should band together, start a GoFundMe, and get our own attorneys to start fighting the project. She said she purchased her house 20 years ago to enjoy the woods. And she doesn’t see this development being positive in any way whatsoever.
Former Planning Board member Sue Bernstein spoke. “I do not live in your neighborhood, but I’m always been very interested in development in Framingham, and very happy to see such a big turnout. I find it a little disappointing that you have all these lovely pictures here, but I think it would’ve been helpful to bring some diagrams of how you intend to increase the track of the roadways in the intersection to handle the traffic from this plus another 150 units that are going to be built in (former Nobscot) Plaza.”
Bernstein said she was glad to see two City Councilors in the audience, but in fact there were seven of the 11 City Councilors in the audience last night.
And since there was a quorum of City Councilors in attendance, Vice Chair of the City Council Janet Leombruno announced that none of them could speak at the meeting, as it would violate the State’s Open Meeting Law. There were also two of the five current Planning Board members in attendance last night.
“I live on two very scenic roads, which are very narrow, which are very winding, all of which now have speed bumps on them because all the cut through traffic. I don’t think our neighborhood needs this,” said Pam Kenney who lives on Grove Street. “If you agree with me, please tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your relatives. Write to your Council people. This can’t be done without a zoning change. And your Council people are the ones that have to vote on the zoning change. And don’t just write to your councilor, write to all of that and the Mayor. Make your voice heard.”
At least three people in the audience felt their voice was not heard last night. They wanted to speak in favor of the proposal but felt “intimidated” by the “angry” crowd. Two of the three said they would be sending letters in support of the project to the City Councilors.
The developers said the purpose of last night’s meeting was to hear what people liked about the project and what they would like to change about the project.
Almost every one who spoke said they would prefer the project not happen at all and for the zoning to stay as it.
Last year, the developers filed a 10-person petition to start the zoning change, but later withdrew it.
This year, the developers will file a zoning change request but without the 10-person petition.
Cucinatti said after the meeting, as land owners they have the right to make the request to City Council.
The Commonwealth’s Housing Choice law has specific rules on how the zoning request must be handled. It requires the Framingham Planning Board to hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the City’s legislative branch of government with 21 days, after the City Council has sent the request to the Planning Board.
Once the Planning Board has made a recommendation to the City Council, the legislative branch of government must hold its own hearing, before it votes on the measure. It will have 90 days to vote on it after the Planning Board’s recommendation.
The roughly 26 acres of land being requested for the B4 zoning was once considered in the City’s B4 zoning, but was removed before the Planning Board eventually approved the zoning in July of 2019. District 1 City Councilor Christine Long was the Planning Board chair at that time and wanted the area removed from the B4 zoning. She now is the District 1 City Councilor and strongly opposes the zoning change by the developers.
The developers also launched a website alled www.NobscotVillage.com.
Anyone can provide feedback about the project on the website. Those who could not make Monday night’s meeting can also provide feedback.
If anyone wants to email the City Councilors, the email is email@example.com