MARLBOROUGH – Neighbors living around Sasseville Way near Fort Meadow Reservoir love the trees, the space and the wildlife.
They don’t love what’s being proposed for a 23-acre parcel currently owned by Boston Scientific.
Residents, and some municipal officials, made their opinions known during a two-hour public hearing conducted by the City Council on Sept. 11.
The hearing was to determine whether the city should change the zoning for this parcel from limited industrial to the Sasseville Way Residential Overlay District.
Should the zoning change be approved, it could open the way for the development of mixed-use family housing.
Representatives from Trammel Crow Company, the possible developer, presented a conceptual design for the parcel – 286 multifamily residential apartment units, with a garage, pool, office suites, a restaurant and other amenities.
Throughout the hearing, the Trammel Crow representatives emphasized that they would remove as few trees as possible and studies would be made on the impact on topics like wildlife habitat and water quality. When asked for details, they said their presentation was conceptual, and that they will work with the city to iron out the details.
The representatives also brought up the need for housing in the city. However, several residents pointed out that the city has several housing projects either underway or going through the permitting process.
Residents, along with members of the Conservation Commission, also emphasized the importance of keeping the parcel as open space.
“This is a core habitat,” said Bob Durand, a former legislator who wrote the state’s Rivers Protection Act in 1996.
He added that the area contains one of the area’s few remaining coldwater streams, and it is a habitat for trout.
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“Our duty is to protect these areas,” said commission member Allan White.
He proposed asking the city to purchase the parcel, an idea backed by Conservation Officer Priscilla Ryder.
“This is a pretty important piece of property,” she said, adding that she is opposed to the proposed zoning change.
According to Councilor Kathleen Robey, the current assessed value for the parcel is $523,000.
Residents weigh in on Sasseville Way Residential Overlay District
In a letter sent to the City Council, more than a dozen residents wrote of their “fervent opposition” to the proposal.
“Though the design of the proposed project names Sasseville Way as the entrance/exit to the development, we know that there will be a significant impact to our lives on Blaiswood Avenue and, we believe, to the citizens of Marlborough as a whole,” the residents wrote.
The residents said that should the overlay district be approved, “the neighborhood would be devastated.” They cited possible impacts on traffic and the watershed, among other things.
During the public hearing, the residents repeated those concerns.
“I am very concerned about the lake,” said Robert Jones, who lives on the Hudson side of the reservoir. He told of problems the neighbors had when there was tree harvesting at Red Spring Road, including sawdust runoff into the lake.
“[The proposal] is not in the best interest of the city,” said Edward Clancy, the chair of the Conservation Commission and a former member of the City Council.
In addition, some residents said they were worried about the possible impact to the city’s schools, which are close to capacity.
Several members of the City Council were also concerned about the proposal.
“I thank Boston Scientific for being a good neighbor, but we need to be very conscientious about the environment,” said Councilor Mark Oram. “I’m very concerned about the impacts.”
The proposal has been sent to the council’s Urban Affairs Committee; it was scheduled to go before the Planning Board on Sept. 18.