1. Why does the town need a public infrastructure system in the town center?
The properties along Main Street are mostly small lots with both onsite septic discharges and private water supply wells. Many of these lots do not conform to current regulations for minimum setbacks between wells and septic systems that the State has determined are necessary to protect public health. Providing Municipal Sewer for this area would allow for the abandonment of those onsite septic discharges, which would directly improve the water quality and public health associated with those water supply wells. All municipal buildings would be connected to this system. Water could also be used for existing unused fire hydrant system.
2. Why is the developer proposing a partnership with the town in building a municipal sewer and public water supply?
Like many businesses in town, the developer would like to utilize public infrastructure as is provided in many other towns across the commonwealth. This proposal would benefit both the town and developer. The town would own and operate its own STP and Water District, while the developer would have more flexibility in planning the proposed development.
3. Would a public infrastructure eventually help with tax revenue and economic growth?
Providing municipal sewer and public water supply to this area will allow for smart, Town-friendly growth of a vital business district to allow for a more vibrant downtown and to promote activity within the Town of Sherborn that residents must currently go to other towns such as Medfield or Holliston to enjoy. Without access to municipal wastewater, this growth cannot be achieved by relying on septic systems.
4. Would the town pay for any of the costs for the public infrastructure?
The cost of the municipal sewer and public water supply would be paid for by the taxes generated from the new assisted living facility through a TIF funding mechanism. Tax Incremental Financing has been used widely in Massachusetts for spurring economic development.
5. How much tax revenue will this development bring to the town?
The overall development could bring upwards to $45 Million in new development and $900,000 in additional annual revenue to the town after the loan for the municipal sewer and public water supply is paid over an estimated 10 years. In addition most of the other properties in the town center will be allowed to grow their business and operations taking advantage of over 27,000 of cars driving by daily, thus increasing their assessed values.
6. How many acres are in the proposed development?
The total acreage under consideration for development is approximately 40 acres, spread over 7 different parcels. Approximately 7 acres front North Main Street (east of tracks) and the remaining acreage fronts Hunting Lane (west of tracks).
7. What can be built as of right on the parcels under existing zoning?
- By right: Based on more than 450 feet of frontage along Hunting Lane, three 1-acre house lots could be created here leaving an additional oversized lot for the existing Paul Tavern house. A market (with no restriction on size other than standard setbacks) or other retail or office building could be built within the Business General portion of the property. With access only from Powderhouse Lane and limited visibility, that would not be an ideal business location. However, a new road could be constructed from North Main Street to create added access and visibility while also providing frontage for a 4th new residential lot in the vicinity of the existing barn. The preceding could be built by right with site plan approval from the Planning Board and subdivision approval from the Planning Board if a new road were to be built.
- By special permit: The Planned Unit Development (PUD) provision of the Zoning Bylaw allows an integrated mixed-use development that encompasses both residential and business-zoned land if a minimum of 25% of the proposed development parcel is within the Business General or Business Professional district. Much of what is being proposed, including an assisted living facility, housing, market, cafe and restaurant could be built under this provision. However, the PUD restricts the size of retail businesses to 2500 square feet which would likely rule out a feasible market without a Town Meeting vote to increase that limit.
- By special permit: Another special permit option would be to develop a project under the EA provision of the Zoning Bylaw. This provision allows either age-restricted housing or non-age-restricted affordable housing (minimum of 25% affordable) or a combination. There is a limit of 4 units per acre so with 7.1 acres 28 units of age-restricted and/or affordable housing could be built. Retail and office uses as well as assisted living are also allowed uses in an EA district. While it appears that that the intent was to allow such uses in addition to the age-restricted and/or affordable housing, it is not entirely clear if an assisted living facility would fall under the 4 units per acre limit. Town Meeting approval of a Preliminary Development Plan is required for any development under EA zoning.
- 40B Development: A housing development with a small commercial component could be developed on the site under the state's Comprehensive Permit law. At least 25% of the housing would need to be affordable. In addition, the financial terms are monitored by the state and the profit is limited to 20% for ownership projects and 10% annually for rental projects. The Town would get credit towards its 10% goal of Subsidized Housing Units (SHI) for 100% of the rental units but only the actual 25% SHI units in an ownership project.
8. What type of development is being proposed by the current ownership?
There are currently several options being considered and discussed. Please see Project Description section of our website for more details.
9. The developer has been proposing a municipal sewer on Town owned land, why?
In a proposed partnership with the town, the developer would build, with resources from the Towns DPW, a municipal sewer. The leaching fields for this municipal sewer would be built under the existing ballfields next to the Pine Hill School and not change or impact its current use. There are 2 existing leach fields located there. This uses the land in a creative way, as to allow a more flexible development to occur at Sherborn Square project.
10. Has the town studied having their own Town Center infrastructure?
The town has performed a working group and also paid consultants to study the idea of building municipal sewer and public water supply for the Town Center.
11. Has the developer met with Town officials and public about their plans?
The developer has been meeting with the Town officials and community to gauge interest and solicit feedback on their plans over the past 2 years.
12. How much would a STP and Public Water Supply cost to build?
The municipal sewer would cost approximately $2.1M, while the public water supply would cost $1.1M. These costs are reflective of utilizing town resources from the DPW in helping to build the system.
13. What has been done in terms of the engineering feasibility of the municipal sewer under the ballfields?
The Town assisted the developer in testing the soils in the location of the ballfields. The results were positive and provided a good sign that a municipal sewer could be built under the ballfields.
14. Who would build, own and operate the municipal sewer and public water supply?
The developer would build the infrastructure system in partnership with Town resources. Once stabilized the Town would take ownership, operate and maintain the system. The developer would tie into the system the same way a current or future business would.
15. Why would the municipal sewer and public water supply be less expensive if the developer built it and not the Town?
Yes, construction would cost approximately 30% less if built by the developer and not the town. This is due to state regulations regarding prevailing wages on public work and many other requirements.
16. Are there any public funds that can be put towards the cost of the infrastructure?
Yes, there are a number of public state and federal grants that could be used to offset construction costs of the infrastructure and will have to be applied for by the town.
17. How much of the municipal sewer would the developer use from its project, and how much would be estimated for use by the town?
It is estimated that at full capacity the Town Center would use approximately 70% of the system, while the development at total build out would be 30%.
18. Why doesn’t the developer build its own Sewage Treatment Plant and Public Water Supply for its own development?
It would be far more economical for both the developer and the Town to build one system together, as opposed to building 2 separate systems.
19. What is the defined area of the Town Center that would benefit from a municipal sewer and public water supply?
The town would need to define a district that is best suited for the town.
20. Where would the public water come from for the Town Center?
The town water committee preliminary tested a water on town owned land on Morse Rd.
21. As there is no municipal sewer or public water supply, what would the developer do for infrastructure for the any type of development on this property?
The owner would propose to build a traditional septic system and drill wells for the water specifically for its own use.
22. Is there a limited window of time for approving this development proposal?
As the owners and tax payers of the land, they ultimately will develop the property into the highest and best use. If the development proposal that includes the proposed public infrastructure does not seem that it will pass Town Meeting Vote, the owners will develop the project using traditional septic and well water.
23. What is the process for approvals?
If the three warrant articles that are being proposed pass at the 2019 Special Meeting, the next step would be to work with the Planning Board to approve a Site Development Permit for the project. Once approved the project would file for a building permit.
24. What is being proposed for the Article Warrant in the Spring Town Meeting in 2019?
There will be two separate warrant articles. The first being the change in zoning to allow a commercial space to be larger than 2,500 sf and no more than 9,000 sf. This would allow the food market to be located here, as most small independent food markets are within this size. The second warrant article would be for the town to allow using a TIF to fund the municipal sewer and public water supply that the developer is proposing to build and eventually have the town take ownership of.
25. How tall would the buildings, specifically the assisted living facility?
The assisted living facility will be 3 stories tall and no more than 36’ high.
26. How is the existing view being protected along North Main Street?
A 100’ buffer from the North Main Street will protect the existing trees and stonewall that currently front the street.
27. What would be the traffic impacts of the development on existing roads?
A full traffic study would have to be performed on the proposed development to understand the impacts on the local roads and any mitigation that would be needed.
28. Would the assisted living facility count towards the Towns affordable housing requirement?
It is yet unknown whether the assisted living units would count towards the Towns goal of having at least 10% of its housing stock deemed affordable. The Census Bureau will make its determination within the next year.
29. Is there a specific senior living operator that is interested in building a facility here?
There have numerous reputable assisted living operators interested in this location for many years. The roadblock has always been the infrastructure costs to development.
30. Who owns the railroad separating the East and West Parcels?
The tracks are owned by the Mass DOT and used as a freight line between Mansfield and Framingham.
31. Have there been other proposals in the past when under different ownership?
Back in 1994, Kent Fitzpatrick, the previous landowner proposed a mixed-use development of approximately 30,000 sf on the 7 acres parcel fronting North Main Street.
32. Who is the landowner for the proposed project at 41 North Main Street (Sherborn Square)?
The current landowner is Barsky Estate Realty Trust.
33. What experience does the developer have in Town or similar type Towns?
Civico, the development consultant to the Barsky Trust have permitted, designed and built multiple mixed income housing developments that include public involvement whether through the Town or State government. Towns such as Lincoln, Reading, Cambridge and Milford are a few communities that Civico has been able to create a successful public/private development project.