Wednesday, June 22, 2016

COMPARISON OF CURRENTLY PENDING AND PROPOSED 40B'S VS. PAST GROWTH SPURTS

Sherborn is currently facing a potential building boom in housing units that it has not faced in decades. Sherborn has seen little private sector housing growth since the 1970's. Two of the largest projects since that time have both been Town-sponsored:  24 units of age-restricted apartments at Woodhaven in the 1980's, and the 17-unit Leland Farms condominium project in the late 1990's.

The only significant private projects since the 1970's have been the 19-lot Cider Hill subdivision approved in 1989, Sherborn Meadows (24 age-restricted condos built in a garden apartment style in the early 2000's) and the 18 age-restricted condos of Abbey Road approved in 2015 and now under construction. The Whitney Farms 40B project represents 48 more units but apparently only a single unit has been sold so far after years of construction and marketing.

According to the U.S. Census, there were 1451 housing units in Sherborn in 2000. By 2010, the figure had risen to 1479, an increase of 1.9%.

Since 2015, the Town has seen a burst of proposed new development. The Fields 40B project includes 32 townhouse condominiums. While it was approved by ZBA, it is currently under appeal. Additional 40B projects include Coolidge Crossing (88 townhouse condominiums),  the Villages at Sherborn (84 apartments - twelve 3-BR units and 72 1-BR), Green Lane (16 duplex units) and 59 North Main Street (12 single family condominium units). These projects represent 232 units of housing, or about 15% of the current housing stock.

How does this compare with past housing booms? The two largest boom periods were separated by just 2 years. The late 1960's represent the most intense residential development era. From 1964 through 1969, several subdivisions were approved totaling 325 lots (average 54 per year). That was preceded by a lesser boom from 1955-1961. During that era subdivisions were approved totaling 151 lots (average 22 lots per year). In between these eras "only" a total of 21 lots were approved in 1962 and 1963.  Of course, the houses were not all built at once;  it took several years to build out these subdivisions.


According to the U.S. Census, there were 564 housing units in Sherborn in 1959. During the 1960's,  an additional 368 were built - an increase of 65%. During the 1970's an additional 258 were built - an increase of 28% over the 1969 figure. Overall, the number of housing units increased 111% during the 20-year period from 1960 to 1980.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Forum on Possible Town Center Housing - June 8, 2016

The Planning Board is sponsoring a Community Workshop on potential Town Center housing on June 8 at 7:00 PM at Town Hall. The workshop will be led by staff from Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). MAPC is studying potential housing options for Sherborn under a grant through the District Local Technical Assistance program as well as through the Community Compact programs (both state programs). The study will consider potential sites, market issues and possible bylaw changes. Input from residents is important and all are encouraged to attend and participate in this workshop. Please contact the Planning Board office at planning@sherbornma.org or 508-651-7855 for more information.

Monday, April 11, 2016

TOWN CENTER WATER/WASTEWATER OPTIONS COMMITTEE ARTICLE 14



BACKGROUND:

Previous studies had provided an understanding of potential sources of public water for the town center, including the drilling and testing of a promising nearby well site.  The TCOC has studied alternative wastewater treatment options ranging from current individual systems, shared septic systems, and traditional full sewer systems.  We have collected information on the legal and administrative options that are available that can control the use of shared or limited municipal districts.  We have some perspective on how current DEP and town regulations limit the options for individual properties in terms of development or changes of use, but we have little knowledge of the impact of private versus public utilities on the residential or business valuations.

The Planning Board has been conducting an extensive study to update the Town Master Plan.  Three subcommittees, Built Environment, Land Use, and Fiscal and Economic are looking into what might be desired for the town center, potential uses of town and private lands, and what economic advantages may accrue to the town through the planning process.  They have conducted a survey of the residents to hear what people see as desirable in terms of development, open space, and services from both municipal and business activities.

PURPOSE OF WATER & WASTEWATER WARRANT ARTICLE 14

The TCOC was charged to develop options for town center water and sewer systems.  The Town Center Water and Wastewater Options Committee (TCOC) initiated an article for this year’s Town Meeting.  This article is officially sponsored by the Committee, the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, the Planning Board and the Water Commission.  The article requests $20,000 for professional engineering services. 

The professional engineering services provided by this article will directly support the decision making process of the Planning Board to accomplish the following:

  • Support utilities planning for the Town Center with cost, legal and technical analysis of improvements to water and wastewater systems.
  • Consider appropriate boundaries for Town Center utility districts or neighborhood shared systems.
  • Outline a path forward for implementation of Town Center district recommendations.
  • Provide related support to other Town Boards and Committees and public meetings.


BENEFITS OF IMPROVED WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES


  • Assure long term water safety of all town center properties.
  • Preserve the viability of residential, town, church, and commercial properties.
  • Allow for town- meeting controlled changes to the town center.
  • Replace town owned and residential ageing systems.
  • Improve the town appearance, tax base, and spirit.

Monday, March 28, 2016

CHAPTER 61B DECISION: 31 HUNTING LANE

A nearly 25-acre property on Hunting Lane is currently the subject of a purchase-and-sale agreement. Since about 23 acres of the parcel (actually 2 parcels of 8 acres and 16.93 acres with a house on the 16.93-acre property) is classified as Chapter 61B for recreation and open space, the Town has a right of first refusal to purchase the property under the same terms specified in the purchase-and-sale agreement. The Town will also be due back taxes that were avoided by the Chapter 61B classification.

The agreed-upon purchase price is $2,000,000. The 2016 assessment is $2,066,645, of which $1,407,400 is the assessed value of the house. It should be noted that the 61B classification does not apply to the house or the 2 acres on which it sits (minimum lot size for that zoning district). Because of the configuration of the lot and the location of the house, any attempt to separate the house from the bulk of the acreage would result in considerably more than 2 acres for the house lot. The 16.93-acre lot has 200 hundred feet of frontage which would need to remain with the house lot to comply with zoning and the house is more than 1000 feet from that frontage. 

It should also be noted that the purchaser of this property has also recently purchased 41 North Main Street (5.88 acres), 6 Powderhouse Lane (1.31 acres) and Parcel 2 of Map 11 (4.88 acres) on Hunting Lane abutting the 8-acre parcel. Thus there would be 3 abutting parcels with a  total of 29.73 acres on the Hunting Lane (west) side of the railroad tracks and 7.19 acres on the east side of the tracks under common ownership.

The Board of Selectmen have the authority to decide whether or not to exercise the right of refusal. They have asked for input from the Planning Board Board, Conservation Commission and others. They have 120 days to decide and if it is a positive decision, then a Special Town Meeting would need to be called to authorize the purchase and the financing for it. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

SHERBORN TO HOST LARGE SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC FACILITY

Sherborn is proud to be a Green Community. That honor took on added meaning at the final Planning Board meeting of 2015 when the Board granted a special permit modification to ADESA to add canopies topped by solar panels to its car parking/storage facility on the Sherborn/Framingham town line.

The system will have a capacity of 4.5 MW, of which 82% will be located in Sherborn and the remainder in Framingham. The system  will consist of 5 solar canopies. Each canopy is 102' 9" wide. The length varies: Three are 508' 11" long, one is 529' 9" long and one is 465' 2" long. About 82% of the facility will be in Sherborn and 18% in Framingham. The facility is projected to provide about 87% of the electricity used by ADESA.

Construction is expected to start in the Spring and be completed by summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UPDATE ON ABBEY ROAD DEVELOPMENT

The Planning Board recently approved a modification to the special permit for Abbey Road, the 18-unit age-restricted development at the site of the former Peace Abbey. The development includes converting the former library building into a single family home, converting the residence into 2 units and constructing five 3-unit buildings in a circle  around the original residence.

The major change with the modification is the relocation of the driveway. Instead of  circling in front of the buildings, it will circle behind them. The primary benefit of this move is that it allows the creation of a beautifully landscaped courtyard between the buildings in lieu of a driveway with multiple garages facing the center space. It also allows most of the garages to be built below the living space with entrances that are essentially hidden from view, resulting in additional living space on the 1st level without increasing the footprints of the buildings. It also results in significantly less fill being brought on to the site.

With its location within an easy walk to the Town Center primary business district on North Main Street, Abbey Road represents an important boost to efforts to improve the Town Center. Construction is expected to begin in late summer or fall.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Second Green Communities Grant

The Town of Sherborn has been awarded a second Green Communities grant, this time from the competitive round of the program. The amount of the grant is $77,800. This brings the total value of grants from the Green Communities program to $215,250.  

The grant will cover 71% of the cost of three projects at Pine Hill School.and it leverages an additional $7700 in utility incentives so that the Town share of the total estimated cost of $109,731 is reduced to $23,931. The three projects are: Library and Gym air handler upgrades (estimated cost: $42,775); classroom unit ventilator upgrades (estimated cost: $36,533), and soffit insulation and air sealing (estimated cost:$30,423).

Like the lighting and other improvements made with the initial grant of $137,450, the improvements funded will result in additional savings due to reduced energy consumption while reducing Sherborn's greenhouse gas emissions. Since its designation as a Green Community, Sherborn has reduced its energy consumption by about 15%.