The Melone property in Sudbury has been a hotly debated topic over the past few years as the town grapples to figure out the best use for the land.
Last year, Sudbury asked Larry Koff Associates, a land use planning firm, and its consultant team to investigate the potential land value if it were to be sold for private redevelopment. The greatest site value, according to the report, would be for either multifamily rental or garden condo development, closely followed by a townhouse condo complex.
During the Dec. 4 Community Preservation Committee meeting, Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Chuck Woodard asked for $150,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to complete the development plan.
"The reason for the request is 40B," he said, alluding to a program created by Massachusetts in 1969 to allow developers to override local zoning bylaws in order to increase the stock of affordable housing in municipalities where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is defined as affordable. "Sudbury is at 6 percent. Some argue we’ll never get to 10 percent. But the Board should use all the tools to get to that goal. The closer we are to 10 percent, the fewer possibilities of more 40B developments."
The CPC only heard proposals this night and did not vote or take any position on them.
The entire Melone property is 20 acres. About 12 of those acres would be used for development.
The site is located off North Road (Route 117), a rural but often busy road connecting the towns of Concord and Maynard, and is situated 2.5 miles from the train station in West Concord and 3 miles from the Lincoln train station.
Surrounding the site is a rural setting, bordered to the west by two age restricted developments and an office development in a campus setting, wetlands to the north and east, agricultural fields and a water supply well to the immediate south, and a series of walking trails in the town of Concord.
"What we’d like to do is retain an engineering consultant to conduct a public process in deciding the best use of the property and identify the development constraints of the property," Woodard said. "We need a consultant to write a district bylaw to be adopted by the town and expect a consultant RFP for commercial developers."Thomas Friedlander of the Conservation Committee asked whether meeting the 10 percent was the driving force.
"The 40B issue pushed us in this direction," Woodard said. "The bigger issue is this is a beautiful town with significant amounts of undeveloped land. We want this done tastefully in relation to the zoning bylaws. 40B says we don’t have to follow your bylaws and that’s not good."Should rental units be built they would be mixed housing, not all affordable housing.
"This doesn’t have to be affordable rental, just rental to meet our goals," CPC Chair Christopher Morely said.
CPC member Robert Beagan asked whether the land should be studied for more of a recreational use, including athletic fields.
"Park and Recreation has been the driving force to get a feasibility study completed," he said. "Has there been talk of making it more of a priority instead of secondary?"
"We’re being driven by 40B," Woodard said.