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STM approves zoning bylaw for senior housing on former Westborough State Hospital property

By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer

Westborough – The Board of Selectmen called a Special Town Meeting during their May 23 meeting to update the Westborough zoning bylaws allowing construction of a four-story senior (55+) housing on the site of the former Westborough State Hospital property. The town is in the process of selling the parcels to Pulte Homes of New England.

A quorum of 50 eligible town voters was reached for this non-standard, one-article warrant, Special Town Meeting. The article was recommended by the Westborough State Hospital Re-Use Committee that a zoning bylaw be updated to allow four-story senior housing in the Mixed-use District only. In all other districts, the height dimensions will remain at three stories.

Westborough Town Planner Jim Robbins gave a presentation detailing this article, which was unanimously supported by the Board of Selectmen, the Advisory Finance Committee and the Planning Committee.

“You may recall that we had the State Hospital Review and Recommendation Committee that brought to Town Meeting several Town Meetings ago dimensional regulations for the State Hospital property which lies in the Mixed Use District, and among those uses is senior housing,” Robbins explained. “When we went to town meeting, the intention of the State Hospital Re-use Committee was to have all buildings in the Mixed Use District be four stories. However, there was an oversight and we neglected to change the dimensional requirements. That’s what necessitated your presence here this evening.”

Questions from to voters began with clarification of the number of units and if the number would go up with the new dimension. The proposed 700 units will not change.

Resident Robin Fleming expressed her confusion regarding the main purpose of the four stories, finished plans, maintenance and whether the four-story buildings would be serviced by elevators.

Mark Silverberg, Planning Board chair, explained that Pulte Homes still needs special permitting and specific designs of the building are all up for future discussion. There will be public hearings where residents are encouraged to attend and weigh in.

“Pulte’s proposal had a general outline with 700 units with four-story buildings and they were expected to be able to build four-story buildings, and we led them to believe that they could. This is purely to correct it, so that they could do what they expected to do.”

Town Manager Jim Malloy further explained that the decision to go to four stories was so the property could maintain its campus-like atmosphere with more open space. Instead of spreading out, they decided to go up in height. Because the town is maintaining 60 percent of the property there is no open space requirement for Pulte.

Malloy also reminded Town Meeting that Pulte’s bid was the most advantageous to the town and came in with the highest bid at $7 million dollars which also includes removal of the hospital and asbestos associated with demolition. This bid preserves the open space and will provide yearly tax revenue that will enable the town to move forward with other projects.

One resident inquired about the risks involved if this article were not passed tonight. Malloy said that Pulte could pull out.
“This is the reason that we are having this Town Meeting,” Selectman Ian Johnson said. “This has come up in the purchase and sale negotiations. We have the risk that Pulte would pull out if they had to wait until the fall. They are putting a lot of money in.”

The article easily passed, with only one dissenting vote.

 

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=88329

Posted by on May 31 2017. Filed under Business, Westborough. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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