Marlborough halts applications for new multi-family housing developments

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Moratorium will last 90-days

Photo by/Dakota Antelman
Piles of concrete fill a construction site on Main St in Marlborough.Already approved projects will proceed under Marlborough’s new moratorium.

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

MARLBOROUGH — Many communities in the state are facing a housing crisis. But that has not been a problem in Marlborough.

With 13 projects permitted or under consideration, the City Council recently acted on a recommendation from Mayor Arthur Vigeant, voting to enact a 90-day moratorium on permit applications for any multi-family developments.  

City awaiting guidance on state zoning law changes

The state has recently made changes to municipal zoning laws and is also expected to release new census data, which may impact how Marlborough moves forward with its own zoning and permitting criteria. 

The data will also influence the amount of required affordable housing and grant funding the city could qualify for relevant to housing and transportation.

“This is a little unusual that we hear about a housing crisis; in Marlborough, it’s a bit of a different story,” Vigeant told the City Council at its April 26 meeting. “We have almost 1,000 units approved now, 600 in process, and another 100 up for [permit or site plan] tweaking in the next couple of weeks.”

In a letter to the council, Vigeant said that he “anticipates” officials will have more information from the state on the zoning changes by the summer, so officials can make “more informative” decisions on permit applications for multi-family and mixed-use developments going forward.

Vigeant made clear that this moratorium does not affect any permit requests or site plan reviews currently in progress and does not include a mixed-use development site plan application submitted to the council on April 21 for 28 S. Bolton St.

 “I’m looking to get a handle on all complexes so, as a City Council, you need to start picking the best complexes and what’s best for our city,” Vigeant added.  “You’ll be getting some [applications] that aren’t so advantageous.”

Three projects previously approved in Downtown Village District

Photo by/Dakota Antelman
Signage advertises the construction site of the E on Main housing development in Marlborough. Seeing a number of similar developments in progress, the City Council recently paused permitting of any new multi-family projects.

In October of 2019, the City Council approved a Special Permit for a mixed-use development known as E on Main, at 161-175 Main St. That permit allowed for a seventh-story roof deck. A red partition is up, and demolition has started.  

But a building permit has not yet been approved, according to Council President Michael Ossing.

The property is owned by Vincenza Sambataro of Wayland. He first secured approval to construct the mixed-use development to include commercial units on the first floor, 67 residential units on top of those, and 43 parking spaces.  

In addition to the E on Main project, the council has also already approved a special permit for Tavern at Marlborough, a mixed-used development on the John Rowe Funeral Home property adjacent to the Union Common off Main Street. Those behind that effort have since submitted changes to the Planning Board. No building permit has been issued.

The third project is based around 28 South Bolton St. Marilyn Green first submitted it back in 2018-2019, receiving permit approval to construct a five-story building with 36 residential units, two retail and/or office spaces and ground floor parking. However, Green has since sold the property to Cambridge company WoHo.  

WoHo has submitted a site plan application for a six-story mixed-use development at 28 South Bolton St. with 40-residential units and ground-floor retail.  The proposal calls for 20 one-bedroom and 20-two-bedroom units and 25 on-site parking spaces. This project will be discussed at an upcoming Urban Affairs Committee meeting.

Moratorium to take effect

As of press time, the moratorium on new permits was expected to start within one week of that City Council vote on April 26. It will not impact plans submitted to the city for single-family homes.

A virtual public hearing allowing residents to weigh in has been set for Monday, May 24 at 8 p.m.