HELP STOP A PROJECT TOO BIG FOR STONEHAM

The state Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) has notified Stoneham ZBA that the developer has filed an appeal of the ZBA Decision on Application of Comprehensive Permit.  Click on “Updates and Events” at left for details.

The project:
On June 30, 2014, the developer, John M Corcoran & Company, filed an Application for Comprehensive Permit with the Board of Appeals to construct 264 apartments and 438 parking places at 170 Franklin Street, the present location of Weiss Farm.  Called “The Commons at Weiss Farm”, the buildings will consist of five town houses and three 5-story multifamily units.  Constructed under Chapter 40B guidelines, the development will have 27 studios, 105 one-bedroom, 114 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom units.

In spite of sincere efforts by the Town to meet and cooperate with the developer, no substantial changes have been made to the proposed project since it was originally submitted to MassHousing on October 2, 2013.  In fact, the record shows that the developer has failed to make even a good faith effort to collaborate with the Town to construct a development compatible with our community.

Why are we concerned?

Safety issues due to increased traffic on an already busy commuting corridor in town - Franklin Street which connects Melrose and Stoneham is a highly traversed roadway. It is used by motorists traveling to and from Routes 1, 93, and 95 (i.e. 128). There are 12 schools in Stoneham (6 public and 6 private including preschools). 9 of these schools are located within half a mile of Franklin Street. Our School Committee recently used new traffic data to determine that the middle school could not be constructed on the existing high school property because it would severely impact the day to day traffic on Franklin Street. About a dozen years ago, a local doctor wished to relocate his practice to a property on Franklin Street adjacent to the Weiss Farm property and was turned down due to concerns about increased traffic. The day care center, Dunkin Donuts and the new assisted living center have also been the subject of traffic reviews. A new building project with 264 units would add at least 264 vehicles to an already clogged traffic artery. It would present significant safety and traffic issues. These issues were the very reason that the Stoneham Middle School was not sited at the Stoneham High School site on Franklin Street. Our children’s safety is non-negotiable.

Effect that such a project would have on our entire school system - We could anticipate increased demand at the elementary, middle and high school levels requiring marked increases in our teaching staff, support staff, school supplies and building space. Crowded classrooms at any level are not what this town desires or needs.

Impact on fire and police departments - There is no doubt that a project of this size and scope would require additional fire and police personnel and resources

Impact on our taxes - Our need for additional town personnel and resources would create a budget shortfall that would have to be subsidized by Stoneham tax payers. This would increase our taxes.

Wetlands - Our wetlands need to be protected. This project will encroach upon significant wetlands at the farm.

Water Management & Flooding – History shows that when it rains, flooding at Weiss Farm can be extensive and water runoff to off-site locations has occurred in the past. This has affected residents of Stoneham and Melrose who have experienced flooding in the streets and water in their homes. There is concern that developer’s plans for the proposed project do not meet storm water management standards. Failure of this project to meet storm water management standards, together with the creation of 5.9 acres of new impervious area, could make flooding and water runoff conditions worse resulting in negative impact on the environment.

Impact on the environment - The Weiss Farm development taken together with other planned projects in Stoneham would bring intolerable motor vehicle traffic, congestion, and pollution to our uniquely positioned historical town. Residents of Stoneham and the surrounding towns of Malden, Medford, Melrose, and Winchester all oppose massive development projects in Stoneham that threaten our precious and bucolic Middlesex Fells environment that we all presently enjoy.