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Select Board approves Waterfield re-design

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By Tara Hughes November 21, 2023

Representatives from Civico and Causeway were present at Monday’s Select Board meeting to present and discuss modifications to the proposed Waterfield project. These changes came about due to Fire Code requirements and abutter issues. The modifications have resulted in the net loss of four market rate units (reduced from 60 to 54) and a net loss of three parking spaces (total now of 116 spaces with no loss to the number of public spaces). The proposed changes to the design required review and approval by the board, which was unanimously granted.

The Board had previously given preliminary approval to the schematics so that they could be presented to the Planning Board for special permit. During the review process Civico received feedback from an abutter and from the fire department. The fire department required a fire truck turn around in the rear of the development and to widen the alley for fire truck access. The abutter wanted increased alley space and to open up their window view. There was also an issue regarding parking being on MBTA property.

The redesign addresses these issues by creating the turnaround (with the loss of 3 units), a 20 foot wide access alley and a set back (loss of 2 units but opened up the alley and shutter window) and by moving parking spaces off MBTA land. The modifications resulted in the development losing 5 units, but the new design was able to gain 1 unit back by raising the front of the building one story. They also lost 3 residential parking spaces, but with the loss of 4 units the parking ratio remains the same. The changes also result in the loss of the roof deck but an increase in landscaping in the front of the building due to the increased set back. In addition, a one bedroom affordable rate apartment was changed to a studio. All other changes in the units apply to market rate apartments.

Now with the Board’s approval the developers will resume the special permit process with the Planning Board. The traffic and engineering peer review is ongoing but the design peer review was on hold awaiting the new design and the Board’s approval of the design modifications. A Pre-application has been submitted for Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) 2024 funding with the funding application due in February of 2024. Thereafter the proposed timeline would be funding award would hopefully  be received in spring of 2024 with design and development following in spring and fall of 2024. Financing and building permits would then occur in winter of 2024 and construction could begin in spring of 2025.

Board Chair Rich Mucci said that changes are expected and that things are moving in a positive direction. He said he was happy to see that the town was not losing affordable units, the parking ratio is the same and that the new design addresses both the abutter and fire department issues.

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