Danforth Green Project: Planning Board Meeting Tonight (2/14/13)

It’s very, very important that you come to tonight’s planning board meeting to give input on the Danforth Green project. The planning board has already thrown enormous support behind the developer’s requests to deviate from the zoning requirements. Members of the planning board have said they heard hardly any concerns from residents at prior public hearings with the developer. However, that wasn’t the case at Tuesday’s ZBA meeting and the Planning Board needs to be on that same receiving end.

Many people have said they thought the public input from prior years would be revisited this time around. Apparently the board has not made that a part of the current due diligence process. Three Planning Board members supported a letter to the ZBA for the variances.  This is a critical meeting and if you would just come by to give your input it will definitely make a difference. Here’s what I’ve learned about the current proposal and then some of my opinions follow:

·        The developer proposes to increase the number of rental apartments at the site from the allowed 20% to 66%.
·        The developer is attempting to make 15% of the apartments low income/affordable instead of making the overall project 10% low income/affordable with the units dispersed throughout
·        The developer would like to give back 88 acres of land to the town, of which a majority is unusable wetlands and he is not proposing any amenities for area residents. This has tax and liability implications with minimal benefit. Would we rather have unusable land or tax revenue or perhaps something in between?
·        The development is being designed to have two different home owners’ associations – one for the apartments and one for the condos/townhouses. This could and should be viewed as laying the groundwork for short-term ownership of the development, with the intention to sell off part of it.  If it then becomes two developments side by side – an apartment complex and a condo complex, is that what the town intended when PUD zoning was adopted for that site?

John Stasik and many others in this community led the charge to change the zoning of that parcel to Planned Urban Development (PUD) many years ago. The zoning change was fully vetted by many committees and boards as well as town meeting. It includes requirements and stipulations which the applicant wants to waive.

We have to remember that developers are always interested in making money – and that’s fine, that’s their business. But that’s the direction from which they approach the projects.  We as Framingham residents have to be looking out for the best interest of our neighborhoods and towns. We have to be thinking about how this will impact us for decades. This project will change the complexion, culture and quality of life in Saxonville and Framingham forever.  We have to care enough about that to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be. This parcel of land is a jewel. It’s one of the most amazing locations remaining outside of Boston – 20 minutes from the city, easy access to Routes 27, 128 and the Mass Pike, across the street from the town beach, alongside the Sudbury River, 1.5 miles to the Natick Mall and with all the wonderful resources available in Framingham.  Quality housing at this site will be extremely attractive. The current owner paid millions less for the land than any of the developers who came before him.  His threshold for profit should be much lower than it was for Pulte or National Development and the real estate market is improving. This means he has greater flexibility to build something really nice, less dense and yet quite profitable.

Please come to tonight’s meeting and show the Planning Board that the community does care about what happens at this site.  It’s on the agenda at 7:45. I know it’s far from exciting to spend some of Valentine’s Day at a meeting, but we all love our town, so show the love this way!

Thanks for listening. I hope to see you tonight.

Audrey Hall
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3 Chairman

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