Sudbury Board of Selectmen Pass Fairbank Farm Agricultural Restriction
The Board also approves allocation of federal funds for The Coolidge at Sudbury, a proposed affordable senior rental complex at 189 Boston Post Road.
At a meeting at Town Hall on Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen placed the final stamp of approval on an agreement that will permanently preserve Fairbank Farm, a 33-acre parcel of land located on Old Sudbury Road, for agricultural use.
The land use restriction, which Sudbury will pay for with Community Preservation Act funds, has also been signed by property owner William Fairbank.
The agreement will now go to the Department of Agriculture. Sudbury’s title examiner will run a final title check to ensure there are no new liens on the property since the last check three weeks ago, and then the town will be able to release funds.
Director of Planning and Community Development Jody Kablack explained that a 1.5-acre parcel of land on the eastern side of the property will be reserved for the construction of a single-family home. A driveway may also be added for farming use.
“This is a very active farm, and in order to get to the top of the hill, it may be necessary to build a driveway,” said Kablack.
Public access trails will also run along the southern and western property lines up to a scenic vista. The farm abuts land owned by the Sudbury Valley Trustees.
Shifting gears from preservation to development, the board held a public hearing regarding the use of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for The Coolidge at Sudbury project. The Coolidge is a proposed 64-unit, rental-only, affordable housing complex for residents 55 and older.
The project is currently in the permit-seeking phase and is working its way thought the approval process with the Zoning Board of Appeals and other town committees. If approved, it would be located at the corner of Landham Road and Boston Post Road and replace the property’s existing single-family home and dilapidated greenhouses.
According to the project’s website, “The name ‘The Coolidge’ pays homage to the Coolidge family, who began the substantial greenhouse operation on the site in the 1800s.”
Sudbury Community Housing Specialist Beth Rust requested that the Board approve the use of approximately $96,000 in HUD money toward the project, which would also receive funding through other sources. About $67,000 of this amount would be borrowed from Marlborough, which has eligible funds that are about to expire.
Rust made it clear that although she used the term “borrowing,” this simply meant a sharing of federal funds between the 13 neighboring communities that are part of a regional housing consortium and would involve none of Sudbury’s own money.
Sudbury resident Dave Levington was on hand to voice his reservations about the project. Given that it would be fully subsidized, seniors eligible to live there would have an income cap of $44,000. Because many seniors in town would have higher incomes, even if only by a little, Levington concluded the complex would do little to help older Sudbury residents who were ready to move out of single-family homes.
The selectmen said that they understood Levington’s concern, but wanted to broaden Sudbury’s appeal to seniors.
“We want to help the seniors who are here, but we do want to attract other seniors to Sudbury,” said Selectman Robert Haarde.
The board unanimously voted to approve allocation of the federal funds for the project.
In other senior news, the Board also interviewed Robert Diefenbacher for one of two open positions on the Council on Aging. Diefenbacher, who moved to Sudbury three years ago from Pennsylvania, outlined his background in business and volunteerism, which he felt would make him a good fit for the position. Among his goals are fostering more intergenerational programs in town, attracting younger seniors to Sudbury’s senior center, and keeping seniors in town in general.
“Its really great you bring forth all this experience. I think not only will the seniors benefit, but the town will benefit as well,” said Selectman John Drobinski.
The selectmen unanimously appointed Diefenbacher for a term that will extend through April 2014.
On a final issue of note, the Board will be issuing a proclamation declaring June 12 Race Amity Day in Sudbury. The measure was approved at the urging of Dr. William Smith, a long-time Sudbury resident and former principal of what was previously known as Curtis Junior High, who is active in promoting the event.
Race Amity Day, which encourages new friendships between members of different races, will include an official celebration in the city of Boston, co-chaired by Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino.
Five towns have issued proclamations similar to Sudbury’s this year, but Smith estimates that next year most towns in the Commonwealth will participate. A bill, which is gaining support, has also been introduced in Congress to declare the second Sunday in June each year Race Amity Day. Now is, as Smith put it, “a moment of traction.”
“Personally I think the program is fantastic,” said Board of Selectmen Chair Larry O’Brien. “I fully support the mission and the message.”
More information on Race Amity Day can be found at www.raceamity.org.