by Frank Schroth
The selectmen juggled the most recent town hot potato at their session last night: what to do about the Milton’s lack of a housing production plan? The issue came front and center as a result of a recent heavily attended neighborhood meeting at Fuller Village. The Fuller meeting was convened to discuss a proposed 40B development on Brush Hill Road.
Towns with housing production plans are well positioned to repel unwanted 40B developments. Senator Joyce, a member of the Fuller Board of Directors, which unanimously voted to oppose the development, said he would hope the Board of Selectmen would “vigorously support” the neighbors in their opposition; key to that would be a housing production plan.
Member Keohane asked why it took this pending development to raise the issue. Hurley said the town “had no stomach” for it. A housing plan has two key requirements: one is that the town commit to creating a certain number of new affordable units available on a yearly basis (for Milton that would be ~48) and that the town specifically identify where these units would be located. Hearings would need to be held and “They will be ugly hearings” Hurley noted. To highlight the point he posed the following “for instance.” Suppose, he asked Mr. Sweeney, the town farm which abuts Indian Cliffs, was identified as a possible site for affordable housing. Mr. Sweeney, who lives in Indian Cliffs, did not think that would be a very good idea. “You’d have 168 unhappy people,” he said.
Bill Clark, Town Planner, joined the discussion. He has provided the board with a number of housing production plans from other communities. One of them was from Scituate which can be found here. Clark reviewed the minimum requirements of a housing plan which include: a comprehensive needs assessment, defined housing goals that incorporate a mix of housing consistent with needs and a strategy for implementation (e.g. identify zoning districts or areas to modify regulation to encourage housing). He estimated it would take 2-3 months and a cost of $20,000 to complete such a plan.
The proposed development on Brush Hill Road has raised a number of concerns among neighbors. Chief among them are traffic congestion, environmental impacts, and an adverse effect on the quality of life in an area that is semi-rural in character. Hurley asked the other selectmen what if there were no traffic or wetland issues associated with the development: would a development that generated ~$1 million in revenue be that bad? Sweeney and Keohane did not give a direct response. Sweeney raised concerns about the impact that the development could have on the school population.
Bill Clark said it was unclear where the developers came up with an estimate of 22 acres, the size of proposed site. His estimate of the Milton property is 19 acres. The other two acres may be in Canton. He also said he does not see how they can fit in 300 units (the maximum allowed by law) given the amount of water in the area.
With regard to the plan Mr. Keohane said, “Let’s get it done.” However, there was no motion made. Clark mentioned that the Planning Board has the issue on their agenda for their upcoming meeting. Hurley suggested that one of the selectmen serve as a liaison with the Planning Board to develop a strategy. Keohane suggested Hurley be that person. Hurley agreed. “If they are willing, I am.”
In other business the selectmen covered the following:
- Acknowledged a grant of $175,000 from the Copeland Foundation to the Cemetery for purchase of land. Cemetery Board member Bob Mason was on hand and thank the Foundation, “We are ecstatic about this.” He also thanked Denis Keohane for championing the effort. The land will extend the cemeteries capacity by 13000 sites and add an additional 7 – 12 years.
- Passed a motion to have current Town Hall hours in effect year round. The hours will be 8:00 – 5:00 Monday – Thursday and 8:00 – 1:30 on Fridays.