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School Bus for Westborough Woods Would Cost $51,000

School officials say they recently rode the route.

Busing students at the proposed Westborough Woods housing project on Route 9 would cost Westborough $51,000, plus fuel costs, School Superintendent Marianne O'Connor told the school committee Wednesday night.

School board member Jody Hensley said the 250-unit affordable housing complex at 346 Turnpike Road would require "an entirely new bus route."

"It would mean busing kids up and down Route 9 to get them in and out of that development three times in the morning, three times in the afternoon, and late buses, and half-day Kindergarten," Hensley said.

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

The zoning board's public hearing on the request resumes at 7:30 p.m. March 25.
School officials have expressed concern for student safety because the site has just one access, from Route 9.

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

Last month, town consultant Robert Nagi told the zoning board that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is “comfortable” with Westborough school buses traveling on Route 9 to serve Westborough Woods.

Hensley said she and O'Connor recently rode a school bus to and from the site.

"We can barely make that bus run in 30 minutes," Hensley said, and if one were to "add traffic to the equation, I'm not sure that we can complete that bus ride in 30 minutes."

O'Connor said the Northborough and Shrewsbury schools also use the cloverleaf.

Hensley said that "we have a school policy of avoiding Route 9."

"Our bus contractor has been consistent with that," she said.

Mike March 15, 2013 at 01:20 PM
How many students does that estimate cover? The school committe projections were an additional 120 students, is that $51,000 estimate to move that entire number?
Bubblicious March 15, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Aside from the developer, I don't see how this project benefits anyone in town. Although this development is in the Armstrong district, that school is full, and can't take on additional students. So kids from this development will instead have to be bused to Fales, which will apparently require a substantially longer bus ride than the norm. I'm also wondering what the impact of so many additional students will have on Fales, which is by far the smallest school in town. Can Fales even accommodate these extra students? I realize that not all the students would be going to Fales, but would attend MP, Gibbons, and WHS as well. Are we looking at building another school in 5 years to accommodate all the kids from these high-density housing developments that are springing up all over town? Also, there's a very good chance that the projected 120 students is a conservative number. I know of several families in apartments here that have 2-3 kids (and sometimes more) to a bedroom just so they can go to school here. So you can bet that scenario is repeated at other complexes all over town. 120 additional students will be difficult enough for the schools to absorb, so has the town thought of the very real possibility of what will happen if the number of students exceeds the projected amount? And if some of those kids need special services (special ed, English language help, occupational therapy, etc.), that will greatly increase school costs. So, again - how does this benefit the town?
Parent March 15, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Couldn't agree more but I believe since Westborough doesn't meet the affordable housing percentage, we might not have much of a choice. Patch Editor, I'd like to read more reporting on this...is this correct? BTW, my understanding is that if town meeting votes on the lower school budget tomorrow, we most likely will be facing a bus fee of $200/student, $500/family cap. Students bused from Westborough Woods to Fales wouldn't be subject to the bus fee because they'll be more than two miles from the school. More good news for taxpayers...not.
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) March 15, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Hi Parent, (Couldn't agree more but I believe since Westborough doesn't meet the affordable housing percentage, we might not have much of a choice. Patch Editor, I'd like to read more reporting on this...is this correct?) That's my understanding as well. Check next week for a You Ask, Patch Answers that has an official answer. (BTW, my understanding is that if town meeting votes on the lower school budget tomorrow, we most likely will be facing a bus fee of $200/student, $500/family cap.) As far as I know, and I've attended most of the school committee meetings the past few months, a bus fee only has been discussed. I don't recall the board taking the position that it'll implement the fee system if budget cuts are necessary. I would imagine the question will come up on town meeting floor. MG
William Peaslee March 16, 2013 at 03:55 AM
It is My Understanding, Based on my attendance of Board of Appeals meetings for a proposed development in our area of east main st. by Windsor ridge, That with recent developments we are at or above our 40B Requirements. The problem is that the Town board is afraid to deal with potential legal action even if they will win the cases thrown at them. So they just "Compromise" with the Developers on what they will allow them hoping they will change their minds or Reduce the Impact. NOT the way to Protect our town from Over Development of this kind.
William Peaslee March 16, 2013 at 03:56 AM
(Continued) We Developed the housing Zoning laws we have many years ago because we realized the issues of over development. But Routinely override them to suite these developers by letting them Threaten us with the 40B Rule. But SO Many towns have yet to even get close to their quotas that it would Not be a stretch to believe that the Courts would side with a Town that was even Close to the Quotas if the impact was going to be as serious as this one would be. A Major Problem we have in Westborough is the Individuals involved with the Housing authority. Shortly after the "40B" State rule was implemented it was realized that towns deserved a voice in it implementation. So they were allowed to create an authority that would rate the proposed developments and weigh in on whether the numbers added up and if it was a good fit for the town. The individuals we have running our authority do not believe that any development is a Bad idea. In fact one of the strongest advocates we have on the Zoning board of appeals (who's names escapes me now) during one of the meetings I attended on the development proposal I mentioned earlier, Said outright to them during the meeting that He had NEVER Seen a Project that they didn't like. The Board Needs to Just Say NO. Call their Bluff, And Let the Lawyers fight it out in court on Our Towns Behalf. If it even comes to that. it would Probably be Way less expensive for all of us in the end.
Chad Northrup March 26, 2013 at 02:21 AM
I attended tonight's ZBA meeting along with several other concerned residents. Unfortunately this is not looking good for the town. The board indicated its hands are tied by Chapter 40B and recent MA Supreme Court rulings around the subject of affordable housing. Westborough is currently at 9.3%, and Westborough Woods will take us >= 12%. The school committee is resigned to the fact that this is happening whether we like it or not, so they've shifted their focus to student safety and the hazards of sending buses on Rte 9. Obviously Mr. Zarette (Westborough Woods developer) doesn't care about the impact on the schools or our tax rates. He's looking to maximize his investment and take advantage of what the law allows him to do. It's a sad night here in Westborough.

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