MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough City Council voted 9-2 on Dec. 20 to refer the proposed master concept plan and development agreement for the Campus at Marlborough back to the city’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.
This marked the latest chapter of an ongoing debate about this project, which has seen discussion in several City Council meetings particularly in recent weeks.
Councilor Christian Dumais said on Dec. 20 that the Council referred the concept plan for the Campus, which would be a mixed-use development on Forest Street and Simarano Drive, back to Urban Affairs largely because of concerns that it could not currently pass a City Council vote.
Dumais also said that the matter should be referred back to Urban Affairs so that a representative of the developer, Greatland Realty Partners, could attend the meeting and have input on the discussion.
“If we brought it back to Urban, it’s televised, people have access to it, they know it’s being discussed and it can be a healthy dialogue,” Dumais said. “That way the project can move forward with what the developer can actually accomplish and what they can’t accomplish based upon our vote.”
Councilor Donald Landers opposed sending the matter back to Urban Affairs, saying that more people watch City Council meetings than committee meetings.
Landers also said that he was under the impression that the conversation about Campus would happen at the City Council meeting, not the Urban Affairs Committee meeting.
A previous motion to refer the issue to Urban Affairs had failed at a separate City Council meeting earlier this month.
“You people that are going to vote to send it back to Urban, I’d like to know tonight what that’s going to do,” Landers said.
“Probably the same people will be involved, and some of you people that will probably vote to send it back to Urban voted 5-0 to begin with,” Landers added, referring to the initial vote in the Urban Affairs Committee that brought the plan before the City Council.
Councilor David Doucette, who is on the Urban Affairs Committee, said that he had been the one to motion to take the plan out of committee. He said on Dec. 20 that it was one of the few votes he regrets.
Doucette said he was concerned about the phasing of housing development before commercial development in the plan. He said he was also concerned about the implications of the plan for Marlborough’s amount of affordable housing, which Mayor Arthur Vigeant has said is very close to dipping below a 10 percent threshold necessary to preserve local control over affordable housing zoning.
“I think that, by sending it to Urban Affairs, we can address those issues within Urban Affairs,” Doucette said. “I think I’m much more prepared to address those issues now than I was when we had the meetings in Urban Affairs. I can assure you that.”
While Councilors Landers and John Irish voted against referring the plan back to the Urban Affairs committee, the other nine councilors supported it.