Residents strongly opposed to Marlborough development

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Proposal is for 188-unit complex on Route 20

Walcott Heritage Farm rendering of one building that will face Route 20 east
Photo/submitted

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Marlborough– Substantial increase in traffic, environmental damage and strain on city resources were top concerns voiced by opponents speaking at the City Council’s July 20 public hearing on a planned 188-unit residential complex planned for 339 Boston Post Road (Route 20 east). The property was previously known as the McGee Farm/Veterinary property.  Opponents all echoed the sentiment that the proposal was for “a beautiful project in the wrong location.”

Attorney Brian Falk gave an updated presentation to the Council prior to questions and comments.  The special permit is being sought by WP Marlborough MA LLC, a subsidiary of Waypoint Real Estate Investments headquartered in Florida with the closest regional office in Stamford, Conn. The 188- high-end residential apartment project, originally named Volaris Marlborough, has been changed to Walcott Heritage Farms. Falk explained that the name change takes into consideration the history of the property.

The development includes four, four-floor buildings with 29 units deemed affordable units with a total 128 one-bedroom and 60-2-bedroom apartments. According to Falk, 70 percent of the south end of the 26-acre property will be left as green space and the old horse track will become a walking trail.  There are 376 parking spaces and the approximate net annual revenue to the city is approximately $510,000. Developers expect 15 school-aged children to live at the property at any given time.

City Clerk Steven Kerrigan noted at the beginning of the hearing that the city had received 23 written communications in opposition to the project and Councilor Laura Wagner said she had seen a total of more than 100 call and emails that has come in to herself and the Council opposing the project.

Many neighbors in the area expressed their concerns over the increase in traffic that this size project could generate on what is already a busy stretch of Route 20 and that given where the entrance and exit to the new development is planned would make it extremely difficult for anyone on either side of Route 20 to turn on the roadway.  Several residents stated they feared that drivers, frustrated with the construction and the finished project would force drivers to use side streets to get around a potential traffic jam increasing traffic in quieter, smaller neighborhoods.

“Traffic is going to be horrendous,” said Cindy Zomar, a former City Councilor who lives on Dean Road.

Zomar said she had no vested interested in the project other than that “it’s just a matter of the wrong project in the wrong place.” She urged the Council to “think long and hard” on this and that “it’s okay to just say no and control the growth that comes into our city the way we want to leave it as a legacy to our grandchildren.”

School Committee member Katherine Hennessy expressed concern  with the accuracy of the number of school children mentioned (15) and the “services we (the city) would need to use to support the project including schools, police and fire.”

Resident Mary Bovaconti told the Council she had initiated an online petition that currently has over 1,000 signatures and one of her biggest concerns in the environmental impact on the property.  She said she has lived in the city her entire life and used to ride horses on the McGee property and is most bothered because “the city doesn’t need this.”  This kind of development, Bovaconti believes, will among other things, unfairly displace the wild animals including deer and coyotes forcing them into more populated areas nearby.

The Council voted to send the matter back to the Urban Affairs Committee for further discussion.