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The Planning Board voted to include the following zoning bylaw amendments for inclusion in the 2019 ATM Warrant (Full Text HERE):
Why is this being proposed: This proposal responds to requests of many residents in the proposed district. In 2017, these residents requested that the Planning Board not include this area within the scope of larger zoning changes, which were ultimately approved by the 2017 Annual Town Meeting. These residents had argued that this proposed district was uniquely well-suited for multifamily development for three reasons: its lot sizes, its existing multifamily developments (such as Olde Village Square, Woodland Condominiums, and Maple Brook Condominiums), and its defined boundaries of Rt. 27 and the railroad tracks. At the time, the Planning Board generally agreed with these arguments but could not amend the work already done with the proposed zoning changes. As a compromise, the Planning Board and the interested residents agreed to revisit the matter after the 2017 Annual Town Meeting. No residents in the proposed district have objected to this proposal.
Added Benefit for Medfield: With such a district allowing by-right multifamily development, Medfield could be eligible for a Housing Choice designation. The designation means Medfield could receive Housing Choice Capital Grants for any capital project–not necessarily related to housing–as well as priority access to other grant programs. Such funding sources are critical to many forthcoming town projects.
What is being proposed: Within the proposed district, this proposal “undoes” the 2017 dimensional changes for lot areas and permitting process. Pre-2017 zoning required 24,000 sf for the first 3 units plus 6,000 sf for each additional unit (~6 units per acre) and site plan review for approval. Post-2017 zoning requires 30,000 sf for the first 3 units plus 8,000 sf for each additional unit (~4 units per acre) and a special permit for approval. All other dimensional requirements remained the same.
To maintain the integrity of the site plan review process, the proposal includes extensive review criteria of the compatibility, impact, and performance for only new multifamily development in this proposed district. There are no changes to regulations for single- and two-family dwellings.
How was the boundary identified: The boundary was identified based on the existing multi-family developments in the area and the potential for lot mergers in the northern portion of the district. The district can be reduced or enlarged based on resident feedback during the public hearing process.
Impact on Medfield: This proposal balances the need for desirable new growth in appropriate locations along with the needs for better planning techniques and inclusionary zoning.
Potential for Lot Mergers: Lots in this proposed district could be sold for multifamily development at 6 units per acre rather than 4. With this proposal, some lots could be developed with multiple units on their own while some lots may be combined to create larger developments. Some examples include:
Total Lot Size
70 Spring Street
.923 ac (40,205 sf)
78 Spring Street
1.398 (60,896 sf)
82 Spring Street
1.438 (62,639 sf)
Merger of 70, 78, 82 Spring Street
Role of Inclusionary Zoning: In 2017, the Annual Town Meeting adopted a special permit process to review multifamily development in this area. This proposal would keep that oversight in this proposed district by amending the current Inclusionary Zoning section (300-16).
More about Housing Choice: To earn a Housing Choice designation through the governor’s new Housing Choice Initiative, towns must create new housing units (both market rate and affordable units) and, depending on the amount of housing created, adopt identified best practices to promote sustainable housing development.
Communities are eligible for designation if they increased housing stock by at least 5% or 500 units in the past five years. Medfield produced 201 housing units between 2013-2017, or 4.76%. Therefore, for a Housing Choice designation, Medfield must meet 5 of 11 identified “best practices” in production and planning. Currently, Medfield meets only 3 of those practices—having established an Affordable Housing Trust, having inclusionary zoning for “reasonable density increases,” and having a DHCD-approved housing production plan.
With this proposal, the town would become eligible for a Housing Choice designation by adopting its 4th best practice: “Have at least one zoning district that allows multifamily by right with capacity to add units and that allows for family housing (greater than 2 bedrooms).”
Designated communities can apply for Housing Choice Capital Grants to fund any capital project—even those unrelated to housing. They can also receive priority access to other state grant programs, such as MassWorks, Complete Streets, MassDOT capital projects, and LAND and PARC grants. These programs are critical to future DPW projects (such as its Complete Streets policy and the reconstruction of Rt. 109 in the next decade) as well as to the Medfield State Hospital Master Plan, which targeted MassWorks as a grant program.