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Selectmen's comments on Mugar project sent to MassHousing

Town Counsel Douglas W. Heim has released for publication Arlington selectmen's formal response opposing the Thorndike Place development, proposed for the 17.7-acre Mugar site along Route 2 in East Arlington.

Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013

The 15-page letter, which Selectman Dan Dunn said Aug. 17 has "muscular prose," lays out the town's arguments against the development, including concerns about floods and the fact that the site has long been a town priority for conservation.

The document was mailed Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 18, to MassHousing, a state housing-finance agency, which decides whether the Mugar development meets its criteria for receiving money to cover part of the cost of its affordable units, planned to be 25 percent of the 219-unit development. If it favors Cambridge developer Oaktree, MassHousing will issue a project-eligibility letter, allowing housing subsidies.

After that, Oaktree will apply to town's Zoning Board of Appeals for a comprehensive permit, allowing the project to avoid local zoning rules under the state's Chapter 40B, a 1969 law aimed to increase affordable housing.

Selectmen continued to say, as they did at the Aug. 12 special meeting, that Oaktree’s plan lack many details.

Gwendolyn Noyes, an Oaktree company founder, has said detailed studies are not required at this stage in the process, and she has declined to comment on the town’s letter.

MassHousing rarely denies a project at this stage, officials have said.

Once a project comes before the town’s ZBA, the town must show that local objections are greater than the need for affordable housing.

The Mugar project expects to face an added comment later this year from the town’s Conservation Commission, which enforces state wetlands laws. The site has several wetlands, but Oaktree officials said Aug. 12 that the units will not be built on that part.

Aug. 13, 2015: Details few as Mugar site developer looks ahead

July 15, 2015: Hearing on Mugar site appliocation tough to schedule 
June 29, 2105: July 22 meeting set as developer moves toward 40B Mugar application
June 9: Step toward 40B filed for Mugar site; town seeks more time to respond
May 26, 2015: Speakers at Hardy send a clear message about Mugar site: NO
Cambridge Day, April 26: 3-year Cambridge master-plan process to start with Alewife
April 5, 2015: Coalition responds point by point to Mugar developer's statements
Opinion: Arlington's Belskis on 40B
March 31, 2015: Coalition seeks to preserve Mugar site from development         
Coalition to Save Mugar Wetlands: WordPress | Facebook
March 8, 2015: Belmont Uplands permit issued; opponents vow to continue

This summary was published Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015

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