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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Town Center

    I've been following the latest on the 15%-smaller Town Center redesign. Ami correct in saying that we're faced with the stark choice of this design or the 40B housing proposal? The latter is ominously communicated by the developers as a fait accompli. Given the looming budget cuts and trends in restricted state aid it doesn't seem like the 40B housing scenario helps the budget situation at all (it seems to hurt it). What are the opinions of the members of this board about this new proposal?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Wayland, MA


    You are correct that the owners of the property have communicated to the town that they will be submitting a 40B application soon. The preview of their plan that they presented to the Board of Selectmen several weeks ago showed a development consisting of 200 living units. To qualify as a 40B, at least 25% of these units must be affordable.

    Is this a "stark" choice? That depends upon one's perspective. Wayland has very few affordable units and is over 300 units short of the threshold for affordable units (10% of the housing stock) that has been set by the state. The ability to add 50 units or more to our affordable housing stock would be a tremendous and unprecedented step foward for Wayland in meeting goals for affordable housing in town that could meet the needs of many people who, for instance, work for the town but can't afford to buy a house here.

    The fact is that our town have made very little progress towards the affordable goal in the last 5 years (or more). This means that, as a town, by law, we have very little leverage in limiting the proposed scale of this development. Absent significant health, safety or environmental problems implicated by the proposal (this would be rare) it is certainly quite possible that something like what the developers have proposed could be built.

    Nevertheless, though adding such a considerable number of new affordable housing units would be very desirable from the point of view of moving more rapidly to increase our stock of affordable houing, I think there are very good arguments for a mixed-use development of the type that is currently being discussed with some urgency within the town. I, for one, would much prefer to see such a mixed-use development, with an appropriate mix of retail stores, open spaces, housing, municipal parcels and so forth. And this is true even though (full disclosure) I chair the Housing Partnership Committee in town, the committee in town charged with promoting affordable housing. Overall, I think the town would be better served with a mixed development where we could mingle, shop, have a meal or coffee, enjoy an afternoon stroll, etc., with family, neighbors and friends in a local "centering" environment. That this could also expand the local commercial tax base and contribute to the town's revenues would be a bonus.

    As a town, we still seem to have some ability to participate in deciding between a housing development and a mixed-use development that includes housing (including affordable housing). I hope we can find the common ground that will enable us to achieve the latter.




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