Walcott Heritage Farms developers approved for fifth special permit extension

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Walcott Heritage Farms developers approved for fifth special permit extension
Photo by/Tami White
The site of the old McGee farm in Marlborough sits off Route 20. Developers are eyeing building a new residential development on this land.

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

MARLBOROUGH – The developers of Walcott Heritage Farms, a 140-unit, three-building, residential development on the former McGee Farm property, are seeking to extend the due date on their special permit application to August 24. 

The initial permit request from WP Marlborough MA (Waypoint Residential) was submitted last year.

The City Council then reviewed the request. The city’s site plan review committee also discussed and made change requests. Meanwhile, approximately 1,000 people signed an online petition in December with major concerns about traffic and conservation issues, including green space and the overall size of the proposed development.

The Council approved this latest extension request with an 8 to 3 vote at its May 10 meeting. Councilors Mark Oram, Samantha Perlman and Laura Wagner opposed the request.

Concerns emerge about MassDOT traffic light approval

On March 8, the City Council approved a resolution that was sent to the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) asking for a traffic signal to be constructed on Route 20, allowing for entrance and exit into the proposed development. 

The developers have not received approval from the state for the traffic light and have asked for this latest extension on the permit request.  

According to City Council Vice President Kathleen Robey, there is concern that MassDOT is planning to deny the design and construction of a traffic light. 

Mayor Arthur Vigeant has sent a letter to Governor Baker hoping to move things along.

Councilors debate granting extension

As that process plays out, councilors expressed their concerns over granting another extension. 

“I don’t support this,” Councilor Laura Wagner said. “We’ve had multiple extensions, and I strongly believe it’s time to make a decision.”

“This is a political dance between us and the developer as far as getting an extension,” Councilor David Doucette added.

Council President Michael Ossing explained that if the Council voted to deny this latest extension request, the current extension would expire on May 25. The project would then get approved by default with no conditions. 

He also cautioned councilors to pay heed to recent information provided by the city solicitor on the special permit process.

“Please reflect [on the solicitor’s presentation],” he said. “This can’t be emotional.  It has to be factual.”

Robey explained to her colleagues that this year the Council granted four extensions to marijuana dispensary Vedi Naturals located on the Northborough line.  It is not against code or unprecedented to take this kind of action, she said. 

Developers make changes to original plan

Plans for the original development have been cut by 25 percent. Likewise, plans for green space and trails were changed by the developer to address concerns.