City Council considers arguments about new lot size

Marlborough – More than 40 people filled Marlborough City Hall April 26 for a public hearing on a proposed zoning change that would reduce the lot size of certain housing developments from 22,500 square feet for a single-family home down to 8,000 square feet in the Shoestring Hill neighborhood.

The changes proposed by Moss Development would specify that for Open Space Developments of more than 50 acres, the required lot may be reduced as much as 50 percent, but no lower than 8,000 square feet. Long-time developer Bob Moss said the proposed change in ordinance would allow for houses of similar sizes currently existing in the neighborhood to be built on smaller lots, leaving as much as 73 percent of the proposed 65-acre development site as open space.

“These are not track houses; these are small, custom homes,” Moss said. “I think after this recession, people are interested in smaller homes.”

“We’re not here to get more lots because they are smaller; we want to preserve very valuable open space to the public,” added Arthur Bergeron of Mirick O’Connell, legal representative for Moss Development on the Shoestring Hill project.

Residents of Desimone Drive, South Street and Bracker Drive had very diff erent outlooks on the proposed change. DeSimone Drive resident Jeff rey Kisty expressed concern about which other properties in Marlborough could be subject to the new ordinance if the proposed change is approved. In his remarks, Kisty referenced Marlborough Country Club as one such property, but expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of information as to what other properties may be aff ected. Many area residents were disappointed by the overall quality and quantity of information available in regard to the proposed change.

Mary Grgurevich of DeSimone Drive mirrored similar concerns.

“Have you looked at the diff erences in public works?” Grgurevich said. “We need more facts to make an informed decision and you are asking us to make an emotional decision. This is a public hearing and we are asking for facts.”

Information residents felt was inadequate included changes in traffic patterns and emergency response capability, shortfalls in tax revenue for increased school enrollment, wetland delineation, environmental degradation, and loss of wildlife and usable land.

“Zoning changes should not be made at the drop of a hat or the blink of an eye,” remarked Marlborough Mayor Nancy Stevens, speaking as a resident of the Shoestring Hill neighborhood and not an elected official. “The council should not pass a measure that allows the developer to build whatever they want.”

Marlborough Zoning Enforcement Office r Stephe n Reid, speaking in his officia l capacity, echoed the prevailing public sentiment.

“We have 11 open-space developments built under current zoning,” Reid said, “keep the rules and build like everyone else.”

Ward Six City Councilor Edward Clancy said, “This looks very pointed and for special interest.”

“When I hear real-estate development and swamp land together, we need to think about it” said Ward One Councilor Joseph Delano.

“Misleading” and “problematic” were words commonly used by residents to describe the proposed changes, and a remark by the developer of making information available through Facebook drew a cynical response from the already skeptical public. Some council members questioned the eff ectiveness of Facebook as a way to disseminate information, based on the neighborhood demographic.

After nearly two hours of comment and more than 20 Shoestring Hill residents expressing their views, the proposed change was referred by the council to the Urban Affairs committee meeting the following evening.

Other action taken by the Marlborough City Council included: referring more than $60,000 in benefit and retirement expenses to the Finance Committee; submitting a proposal to the mayor and Historical Commission that would allow a historically signifi- cant machinery and equipment display donated to the city by Renzi Shoe Repair within the city; referring six claims against the city to the Legal Department; and approving a measure to remove the annual fee for solid waste disposal for disabled American veterans.

Councilors Landers, Clancy and Levy expressed opposition to changing the name of the 4-7 School to First Lieutenant Charles Willis Whitcomb School, due to a lack of grade designator in the name. Under this opposition, the item was withdrawn and referred to the Veterans Aff airs for revision.

Councilors Robert Seymour, Patricia Pope and Peter Juaire were not in attendance at the meeting.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=6972

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