Developer lessens number of units, but questions remain

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UPDATED, Oct. 17: The town Zoning Board of Appeals continued to consider the permits for Thorndike Place  (Mugar site) on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Clarissa Rowe, a former Select Board member who is part of the Coalition to Save Mugar Wetlands, provided the following summary of the Oct. 13 hearing, which is published with her permission:

The building will have 175 to 180 units. [Reports dating to 2015 had put the number at 219.]

 It will be three stories on the areas closest to Dorothy Road, and four stories for the rest.

The finished floor elevation will be plus-12, with the underground garage elevation at plus-1.

The parking spaces will at present be 1.4 spaces per unit or 252 parking spaces, mostly below the building.

There are no known plans for the rest of the site.

Pathway removed

The pathway to Thorndike Field has been removed. The ZBA and the public asked for clarification. The responsibility for the site by its owners is an open question for town officials.

The public talked about the homeless population and rats currently on site, and asked for remediation.

Tomorrow [Oct. 15], the wetland delineators for the developer will be back on site to check their initial findings -- even though we are in the middle of a drought. They will be checking for the evidence of wildlife, too.

There was much ado about the lessening of the wetland impacts with this new scheme, but the FEMA floodplain is very much affected, and the developer needs to figure out the compensation for this wetland disturbance in cubic yards, not square feet. Where will the 2-to-1 storage [ratio] required by the Conservation Commission go?

Traffic comments

The traffic consultant, Scott Thornton, talked about the study area reaching from Mass. Ave. to Route 2, and says that now the traffic impacts are only 26 percent off from normal. He is discounting some traffic trips because of the bikers and walkers. "This calculation will need to carefully checked," she wrote. "He is double-checking his figures and will submit his traffic plan to the town soon but not in time for the Nov. 11 meeting," which has been canceled.

It is probable that the traffic work will be discussed at the Dec. 8 meeting along with the civil work.

The next meeting that she urged supporters to attend is Nov. 24, when the ZBA and its consultants plan to have all the missing information in front of them.

The ZBA is going to make an effort to get the information up on its website in a fast way, they hope.

Rowe offered this opinion: "A summary of this writer needs to include a feeling that the new plan was a bait-and-switch by the developer. They have tried to get rid of the major complaint of their work by condensing the building footprint.

"The scale of the project is basically unchanged. The most effected will be the people on Dorothy Road. The traffic will still be horrible, and the effect on the schools in East Arlington will be difficult. We need to engage our Select Board members to remind the town staff that there is a long history of problems with this site. Stand up."

See the meeting agenda >> 

Members vote:

Approval of meeting minutes from Oct. 6, 2020

Members vote: Approval of decisions from Oct. 6, 2020


See documentation on ZBA websiteThorndike Place

Meeting Adjourn 

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Land Trust update

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Oct. 13, was to focus on critical wetland impacts and stormwater management on the Mugar site. However, at the Conservation Commission meeting on Oct. 1, Oaktree Development presented a significantly revised site plan for Thorndike Place to replace the original plan for its proposed 40B housing development.

Revised Site Plan

Original Site Plan

No further plans or reports have been provided since then, so many crucial details are unknown, such as the revised wetlands boundaries, stormwater impacts and mitigation, building heights, and the proposed number of housing units and parking spaces. Until complete hydrological studies and other documentation are shared by the development team, further analysis by Town boards and Beta Group, the Town's peer reviewer, remains in limbo. At the Oct. 13 ZBA hearing the developers are expected to provide some new information about their revised site plan, but the scope and context are uncertain.

Sept. 30, 2020: Concom reviews revised Mugar plan
Aug. 25 hearing summary >>

This agenda announcement was published Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, and updated Oct. 12, to add a link and info from the Land Trust, as well as on Oct. 17, to add summary.