Application for Sasseville Way overlay district withdrawn


Application for Sasseville Way overlay district withdrawn
Drone photography shows the proposed site of the Sasseville Way Residential Overlay District. (photo/Tami White)

MARLBOROUGH – A proposal to create a residential overlay district on Sasseville Way has been withdrawn by the applicant.

On Monday, Dec. 4, the City Council allowed, by a 6-5 vote, a withdrawal of the application without prejudice. This followed a 5-0 vote by the council’s Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday, Nov. 30, to deny the zoning amendment.

Council President Mike Ossing, and councilors Laura Wagner, J. Christian Dumais, John Irish, Donald Landers and Teona Brown supported the withdrawal of the application. Council Vice President Kathleen Robey, and councilors Samantha Perlman, Sean Navin, David Doucette and Mark Oram voted against.

Had the overlay district been approved, the zoning would have changed from light industrial to residential. The owner of the 23-acre parcel, Boston Scientific, would have sold the site to TrammelCrow for a mixed-use development that would have had a maximum of 286 units. 

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While council members agreed that the proposed development was not right for the parcel, they disagreed about whether to allow the withdrawal without prejudice.

“They could come back with another proposal,” said Robey.

She added that she would like the city to examine purchasing the parcel – currently assessed at $525,000 – for open space.

“I’d like to have that conversation,” she said.

Some councilors were concerned that a vote against the withdrawal could affect the city’s relationship with Boston Scientific, which is the second biggest commercial taxpayer in Marlborough.

“It’s a poke in the eye,” said Ossing. “We’re denying them the opportunity to look at their own property.”

Oram did not regard the vote as a “poke in the eye” against Boston Scientific.

“They’ve worked with us for years, and we’ve worked with them,” he said. “This is a very important piece of land for Marlborough. Let’s get working with Boston Scientific.”

“I support the withdrawal without prejudice … it leaves the most options open,” said Brown.

Council members, along with abutters to the parcel, have voiced concerns about the possible environmental impact. The site is adjacent to Fort Meadow Reservoir, and it features a cold-water brook and other wetlands.

“This is a very sensitive area of land,” said Wagner. “Once it’s built, it can’t be undone.”

RELATED CONTENT: Sasseville Way zoning proposal in Marlborough irks neighbors

“The people are very concerned, and rightly so,” said Navin, whose ward includes Sasseville Way. “We can continue to work to preserve the land.”

“I love the project, but I hate the location,” said Doucette. “I hope you guys can find another place in Marlborough.”

“I don’t think the project would protect environmental stewardship,” said Perlman.

“The strongest argument is the environment,” said Oram.

Ossing pointed out that while this particular project did not pass muster with the city, there will be other projects. Also, the city is working on plans to set aside zones for multifamily projects; this is to comply with a mandate imposed on all communities served by the MBTA.

“We have to put 1,750 units somewhere,” said Ossing. “All these parcels [within the city] will be developed unless they’re protected.”

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