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Planning Board works on new MBTA Act strategy

by | Jun 18, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Planning Board met Monday night and informally agreed on an immediate course of action regarding the MBTA Communities Act Law, which was voted down at Annual Town Meeting last month but is likely to return for another vote at an upcoming Special Town Meeting in the fall.

Chair Rob Benson outlined a presentation aimed at “fostering a discussion to guide the Zoning Advisory Committee on a path forward.”

Benson explained how he believes most Hopkinton residents don’t want what he called “super-dense development” in town. He cited property taxes and impacts on schools as reasons for that position. With the public’s perspective in mind, Benson proposed a goal of “paper compliance,” where the town complies with the rules of the bylaw yet chooses zones that are unlikely to be developed in the next 20 years.

As part of this plan, Benson highlighted two properties (Halstead Apartments at 1 Woodview Way and Windsor Apartments at 1-7 Freedom Way) where the town could pursue a zoning overlay. The town would stipulate that any developers looking to build on the property would be forced to destroy the existing structures, which would render them financially infeasible and prevent development. Some members later discussed whether such a stipulation would be possible.

Members of The Preserve, a condominium complex located across from Hopkinton State Park, are strongly opposed to being included in the zoning plan and led the opposition to the original plan at Town Meeting. This position factored into Benson’s suggested properties in the plan.

Member Lucia Lopez raised concerns about displacing potentially 200 units of residents if a developer did decide to redevelop the properties to add housing, but Benson responded that this would not happen due to the lack of financial viability for developers in his plan. Vice chair Matthew Wronka added that it could be hard to find areas that are difficult to develop with a strong degree of certainty.

Ultimately, the members agreed in an informal vote that Benson’s plan of striving for paper compliance within the MBTA Communities Act Law was generally an acceptable way to proceed, with a central goal of “minimal development” for the town in the intermediate future. Lopez also said the board must be sure the town has sufficient affordable housing units if there is any chance of these properties being destroyed and developed, while member Parker Happ suggested the board examine the viability of the proposed properties as zoning overlays.

Pickleball/padel club plans explored

Applicant Yevgeniy Galper was present and listened to the board discuss its findings and guidance for his proposed pickleball and padel tennis facility on East Main Street. Much discussion followed related to the stormwater management plan for the facility, as well as the impacts on the surrounding area and its residents.

The applicant had agreed in a letter to make the changes suggested in the previous meeting, and a number of outstanding issues also were presented. Among these were suggestions regarding sound mitigation, light pollution and groundwater management. Ultimately, the board moved to continue the public hearing for a stormwater management and site plan to July 1, and a decision for a stormwater management permit was extended to July 10.

Hopkins Lower Middle School plans progress 

The board reviewed comments from the Health Department on the general safety and efficiency for the proposed Hopkins Lower Middle School expansion/renovation. Issues such as stormwater management and traffic were discussed.

The board unanimously granted a stormwater management permit for the project.

Emerald Drive lots released for sale

Two lots (6-7) owned by 20th Century Homes on Emerald Drive were unanimously approved by the Planning Board and now can be sold.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting

    Wait- so the Planning Board has the same intention of paper compliance, but instead of re-zoning an area where people own their property, have a say, and need a majority to sell it, it’s considering re-zoning an area where lower-income renters live and have no say?

    That’s not very nice!

    Reply
  2. J Thomas

    Hopkinton is a great town with wonderful people, but in reading this I had to share an observation as a resident of almost ten years. The people in Hopkinton overwhelmingly vote for politicians who support legislation like the MBTA Act, but then get upset when it impacts them. Your actions at town meeting should reflect the way you vote for your elected representatives. This is classic “Rules for thee but not for me”. Since moving to this town I’ve seen the same behavior with solar panels. The majority of the town votes for representatives who support green energy but then get upset and have the town spend thousands of dollars in tax payer money to fight solar panel farms in the town. It’s ok in MA just as long as I don’t see them and they impact someone else. At a previous town meeting when discussing a green energy bylaw pushed on towns by the state legislature someone even asked if Hopkinton residents would be required to put solar panels on the front of the house if that was the only side that had enough sun exposure because it didn’t look nice.

    Reply

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