Daily Buzz | Select Board Hears Residents' Concerns Regarding Affordable Senior Housing Proposal
And, School Committee to discuss results of School Climate Survey
Good Morning, Burlington!
The last public hearing at last night’s Select Board meeting, as expected, went long and consisted of a number of residents and Committee/Board members voicing their concerns about the proposed senior housing development in the Winnmere neighborhood.
The project was originally proposed, and earned a letter of support from the Select Board, in 2019, but issues of access came about and the proponent resubmitted their application with a new access road late last year. The public expressed many concerns about the project, including:
Erosion, water infiltration, and flash flooding can occur as a result of tree removal and stripping of the area.
The area is already congested and heavily trafficked, and more residential units would mean more traffic.
The access road would be winding and steep (an 8% grade), and would provide emergency access and snow removal issues—of particular concern in a 55+ community, as seniors are more likely to need an ambulance.
While this is being sold as a way to add more affordable senior housing to Burlington residents, the site is on the south end of town, near Lexington and Winchester, and the concern was raised that these condos will be marketed heavily toward those towns and current Burlington residents will not be able to take advantage of the units.
The town already owns several parcels of land in other areas. Would those be more suitable for such a development?
The project would bypass the Planning Board and Conservation Commission and go straight to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which opponents say is to the town’s detriment.
The Planning Board offered to set up a subcommittee so they could support the Zoning Board of Appeals in setting this project up for success, should it go through.
The Conservation Commission recommended that, if the Select Board provides a letter of support, it include conditions to ensure proper sedimentation control, stormwater management, solicit feedback from ConCom during the process, and more.
Overall, opponents say, these concerns outweigh the benefits. The Select Board opted to keep the public hearing open until Thursday, at which point they will hear comments from the Housing Partnership and close the hearing. After a short waiting period, the Board will be able to vote on whether or not to provide a letter of support to the proponent for this project.
A letter of support would not be an approval, but speakers at last night’s meeting emphasize it would be a signal to the state that the Town believes the nature, location, and timing of this development are appropriate for our town and its residents—a sentiment with which speakers at last night’s meeting disagree.
Proponents of the project argue that Burlington is in need of senior housing, and this is a way to get it. Select Board Chair, Nick Priest, also emphasized that the state can decide to move forward with the project even in the absence of a Select Board letter; Town Counsel, Lisa Mead, stated that the Zoning Board of Appeals is the entity in town that can resist the project at the state level, since Burlington is already over 10% in affordable housing units according to the state formula.
The proponent and a ZBA member said, if the project goes through, residents’ concerns would be addressed as they come up in ZBA meetings.
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Today in Burlington
Meetings and Events
10:30 AM - (Library event) Great Decisions and Current Events Discussion Series Hybrid Event (Register here)
11:00 AM - Free blood pressure screening at the library
5:00 PM - Housing Partnership will discuss their thoughts on last night’s public hearing about the Winn View Heights II development proposal, along with a Housing Production Plan and other items. (Join online)
Sports and Activities
Our varsity girls fell to Arlington 2-0 last night at the Ice Palace, bringing their record to 5-4.
We’ve got a busy day in sports today, with a little something for everyone:
We play Arlington in Basketball today:
Lady Devils at home at 4:15 (JV) and 6:00 (Varsity)
Devils away at 4:15 (Freshman), 5:30 (JV), and 7:00 (Varsity)
Varsity Boys’ swim meet at Shawsheen Tech
Girls’ Gymnastics at 6:30 in Winchester
JV Boys’ hockey faces Watertown at 8:30 at the Ice Palace
It was a long one today; thanks for reading. I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday!