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Westborough Woods Access Debate Continues

The state Department of Transportation is 'comfortable' with one access, town consultant says.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is “comfortable” with Westborough school buses traveling on Route 9 to serve students at a proposed 250-unit housing complex, town consultant Robert Nagi says.

Nagi told the Westborough Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday night he “specifically asked” the state agency about this issue.

State transportation staff replied that Route 9 is “designed to handle trucks, 18-wheelers” and school buses, Nagi said.

The proposed Westborough Woods development at 346 Turnpike Road would be accessible only from Route 9.

School buses would have to loop from Route 9 to Route 20 in Northborough, school officials say.

Developer 346 Turnpike Road LLC is seeking a comprehensive permit from the zoning board under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law.

The board continued its public hearing on the request to 7:30 p.m. March 25. Chairman Jim Johnson asked Nagi to develop a list of waiver requests and outstanding issues. He also asked that town departments that haven’t commented on the proposal either do so or state they have no comment.

The developers on Monday night presented two accessway designs: a 28-foot driveway (widened from 24 feet); and a boulevard option, with two 18-foot lanes divided by a median strip.

Nagi said he would defer to Fire Chief Nick Perron and Police Chief Alan Gordon, who are “comfortable” with the one access, which is “not uncommon” in Westborough.

Fran Zarette of 346 Turnpike Road LLC said he was at the Mill Pond School, which has just one access, earlier Monday.

.“This thing is like an island. And when someone looks at this map, it’s obvious that there’s only one way in and one way out,” he said.

“There’s 800 children that go to that school, and 100 people that work there. Nine hundred people that go there every day, and it’s not a safety issue.”

Nagi said he would encourage the developers to consider exploring “opportunities to find a second access point.”

Nagi said he also has encouraged state transportation staff to consider sidewalks, and “make sure the sidewalks go somewhere.”

“Sending people out on Route 9 is not, I think, in anybody’s best interest,” Nagi said.

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T. Swizzle April 01, 2013 at 04:42 PM
We were at or very close to the state mandated 10% before our town decided for some reason that we needed to add 270 residential units at "Westborough Village". In a town of approximately 19,000 (if census is accurate) a minimal amount of new residential development can lead us back under 10%, never mind 270 units. Unfortunately, once a town is under 10%, it basically has no say in the outcome of a 40B project regardless of the financial stress and strain posed upon the town. If 19,000 of us showed up at a meeting in opposition it would not matter. The state of Massachusetts ecourages the developer to request waivers for any zoning by- laws that would otherwise delay or threaten approval. According to 40B, in a town of our size the developer has the right to build up to 260 total units, even if we only need 30 affordable units to meet the state-mandated 10%! In fact, if 62 40B units are built, OUR TOWN will be over 12%! That's right, we will be over 12% while many cities and towns across the state are closer to 5% and have been there for years...........without having to face any consequences for their non-compliance. So, why can't Westborough just refuse to comply as well? That is the question. This project provides absolutely no benefit to our town. To our town planners: If you ran a business, would you spend a million dollars on a project that would result in a guaranteed net ANNUAL loss of a million dollars? Didn't think so.

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