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WVN #104: Planning Board - Lessons from Wellesley Development

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  • waylandvoters2
    Wayland Voters Network August 15, 2005 Dear Wayland Voter, This newsletter is a report on the August 8 Planning Board meeting re the Town Center Project,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2005
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      Wayland Voters Network
      August 15, 2005

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      This newsletter is a report on the August 8 Planning Board meeting re
      the Town Center Project, prepared by WVN subscriber Molly Upton.
      Note that the Town Center Committee meets on Tuesday, August 16, Town
      Building, 7:30 p.m. Also, the Planning Board meets Aug. 16, and its
      agenda includes a working session on the Town Center overlay district
      bylaw at 8:30 p.m., and a joint meeting with the Town Center
      Committee at 9:00 p.m. (The developers have agreed to decrease the
      proposed retail space; see Boston Sunday Globe 8/14/05, "Retail space
      trimmed in Rte. 20 plan" by Matt McDonald.)

      PLANNING BOARD 8/8/05: LESSONS FROM WELLESLEY DEVELOPMENT
      Submitted by Molly Upton

      The Wayland Planning Board met with Yanni Tsipsi of Meredith & Grew
      (MG), advisor to Wellesley on the Linden Square Development, to learn
      the process and parameters by which Wellesley arrived at a
      development agreement that was so specific and had phased mediation
      factors. Both the board and attendees asked questions.

      MG was hired by Wellesley (with funds paid by developer) to:
      · Assist in evaluating the value to the town (linkage, etc.)
      · Negotiate the development agreement
      · Negotiate the bylaw
      · Act as sounding board re requests to developer.

      MG joined the process in April 05 and the article passed town meeting
      in June 05. When MG joined, the stage of the process was similar to
      where Wayland is now… grappling with the development agreement and
      zoning.

      However, the principal differences were:
      · Wellesley had developed a master plan for this area AND the
      developer tightly adhered to that plan, which enabled Wellesley to
      hone in on impacts such as drainage, traffic, etc.
      · The developer came in with specifics regarding % allocations
      for retail of large, medium and small sizes, and office.
      · The site had existing (smaller) retail footprint on it so
      basically the financial study dealt with the differences between
      existing and future development. (The existing footprint is 225,496
      sq ft according to information on the Wellesley site).

      An overlay district was needed in order to aggregate various small
      parcels (all by same owner) so that the floor area ratios (FAR) would
      be acceptable. The zoning bylaw change triggered the Wellesley
      inclusionary bylaw, so the developer added 4 affordable townhouses to
      the plan and agreed to manage 3 other affordable units. Several
      members of Wayland's PB were interested that a business zoning change
      could trigger the inclusionary bylaw.

      One of the primary issues was ensuring that Linden Sq. didn't
      cannibalize other retail in Wellesley. Tsipsi said there was a
      strong feeling that the service-oriented character of Linden St. be
      preserved, and this was ensured through specific requirements for
      allocations for various types of businesses, e.g. pharmacy. He also
      noted that Linden St. has been viable with a service-oriented mix and
      this assuaged concern regarding viability.

      The traffic was a consideration, and MG helped the town prohibit
      certain types of known trip generators, such as drive throughs, fast
      food, etc. It already had Roche Bros as the anchor, an acknowledged
      trip driver.

      When asked how Wellesley handled issues of potential resale of
      various portions of the development Tsipsi said while he didn't know
      the legal answer, the development agreement could specify such things
      as the ability to sell off portions of the project and at what point
      in time. The Planning Board was concerned that the town only have to
      deal with one developer when reviewing the initial build out of the
      project. Having to deal with multiple owners/developers could put
      Wayland town offices into a tailspin trying to respond to multiple
      development requests simultaneously.

      Tsipsi said the developer needed to convince Wellesley why the Linden
      Sq. wouldn't adversely impact the town, and the developer gave enough
      specifics to flesh out the conceptual mix.

      In response to a question on a reasonable time frame, Tsipsi said it
      depends on how well the plan reflects the town vision. The Linden Sq
      was 1.5 years to permitting process

      Multiphase Approach
      PB members were interested in the multiphase approach Wellesley takes
      regarding development, (that someone said was analogous to article 80
      in Boston) including:
      · Zoning and development agreement
      · Project of Significant Impact (PSI) permit process… when
      impacts are studied
      · Design review
      · Site plan approval

      Town Team
      Who made up the town's team? Tsipsi noted it was a very integrated
      process.
      · Town development review team, which included several members
      from various boards. There were times when multiple entire boards met
      together as a group.
      · Town counsel and MG did the development agreement (town
      counsel has experience and did much of the heavy lifting). The
      counsel also helped drive the process.
      · Town planner was the de facto tracker/coordinator
      · MG helped assess the feasible mediation

      Linkage/Mitigation
      Tsipsi noted that the town got "several bites of the apple." And
      rather than engaging in internecine warfare among boards, the town
      got the money and will then decide how to allocate it.

      Documentation is available on Wellesley site under the selectmen's
      page:
      http://www.wellesley.ma.us/sel/Linden%20Square/index.html
      and what appears to be the developer site, http://www.lindensq.com/

      Below are excerpts of some points that I gleaned from the development
      agreement:

      Binding Effect
      If the owner decides not to proceed, the owner agrees for itself and
      successors/assigns, that any development or redevelopment activities
      on the property will be consistent with the original Bylaw "as if the
      Article" (zoning overlay) "had never been adopted by the June 13,
      2005 Special Town Meeting." There are other interesting conditions
      here. (See Section 9b, Page 16.)

      Term of agreement
      In order to modify, amend or terminate the development agreement, a
      majority of the Board of Selectmen must agree to do so in a written
      agreement with the owner and that agreement must be approved by a
      majority vote of town meeting. (See Section 10, Page 16.)

      Some Facts
      · Total floor area 276,200 sq. ft
      · Floor area ratio not to exceed 35% (The Zoning Bylaw says
      30%, but can go to 35% with special permit)
      · Roche Bros can be 50,000 sq ft
      · Only one other store can be >25,000 sq ft (max 33,086, which
      is the current Roche Bros footprint) unless gets permit from PB. This
      building has to be in the existing Roche Bros building
      · Increase in open space (very specific)
      · Businesses prohibited:
      Sale of boats and trailers
      Sales out of trailers
      Hotel/motel
      Fast food chains
      Movie theater
      Light manufacturing
      Outdoor flea market
      Warehouse
      Adult uses
      No onsite dry cleaning, but can drop off
      No oil storage/distribution company (entails not renewing
      current lease)
      · Limits:
      Not more than 2 coffee/tea houses
      VW parcel cannot include stores that offer food
      1 video rental store, size to be less than 3,000 sq ft
      1 additional bank
      1 drive thru pharmacy, max 15000 sq ft
      No more than two pharmacies, with combined total area of
      25000 sq ft

      Some Aspects of Mitigation
      · Taxes: Developer is to pay taxes during construction at a
      minimum level of the 2005 assessment. There are some interesting
      provisions for payment requirements. (See section 5, page 13.)

      · Specified Monetary payments:
      After zoning approval: $100k for consultant expenses
      After zoning approval: $2,050,000 to town (about half to be
      used for road reconstruction)
      $130,000 after occupancy permit for new supermarket
      $10,000 after occupancy permit for new supermarket AND EVERY
      year for following 9 years to be used as town decides
      And $10,000 after occupancy permit for new supermarket AND
      EVERY year for following 9 years to be used for senior transportation
      $7,000 for plan review of town houses, when designs are
      submitted

      Affordable housing: developer to construct 4 affordable units, and
      manage 3 additional others that exist on Oak Street. The 4 townhouse
      units are specified at @ 1500 sq ft each: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths etc.
      2 car garage. Wellesley Housing Development Authority to approve plans

      · Various traffic, drainage and construction mitigation
      details, etc.

      In addition to taxes to be received, the total cash payment to the
      town appears to be: $2,487,000. The net appears to me to be about
      $1.18 million after reimbursed expenses and the estimated $1.2
      million the town will use to pay for reconstruction of parts of
      Linden St.

      Services MG offers include:
      Negotiating development agreement
      Zoning bylaw
      Be a sounding board for what's feasible to ask of developer
      Mitigation
      Linkage

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove and Michael Short, Editors
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