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ZBA Members Highlight Need for City Planner

Zoning Board of Appeals members voiced the need for a city planner as they continue to work on the "Brookview Village" 40B development, while one board member requested to see plans reducing the number of units to 225.

The need for a City Planner was raised by the Zoning Board of Appeals as they continue to work on the "Brookview Village" 40B development proposal.

"It's not coming from a planner looking at the entire city of Marlborough," said ZBA Member Lynn Faust who explained she was also concerned with a lack of impartial data on the need for housing in the area."We have planners for your company but not a planner for the city."

She questioned whether a 243 unit residential property — with 61 affordable units — was the best use for this land, something that she said would normally be answered by a city planner with a larger view of what the city needs and where. This position has not been filled for years, she said.

The discussion was sparked as the ZBA continues to review the 18.73 acre plot of land along Route 20 near Ames Street. The development will answers the need in the area for apartments, said Arthur Bergeron, legal representative for the Gutierrez Company. With area businesses attempting to draw in talent from the Boston area, the kind of housing potential employees are seeking is a necessity.

"The places where that demographic wants to be living is in rental apartments," said Bergeron who also spoke to the city exceeding its 40B requirements with the project. "While all of us are alive, there will not be another 40B unit because of these units."

Faust did not question the need for additional housing of the kind provided by the development, which representatives of the Gutierrez Company pegged at a 93 to 95 percent occupancy rate. Rather, she questioned the other needs of area businesses beyond housing and whether this property, which is zoned industrial, would not better serve the community in a capacity other than residential.

"I think a city of this size is wrong not to have a permenant planner," said ZBA Member Paul Giunta who explained these decisions are left up to individual boards and officials to interpret on a case-by-case basis.

Giunta also questioned bringing in housing that attracts individuals who are not looking to be involved in their community.

Fuast requested a report of the needs of the area businesses by a third party be presented to the ZBA. Arthur suggested the Metropolitan Area Planning Council as an option.

ZBA Member Mitchell Gorka said he felt the most useful kind of information would be strictly supply and demand numbers for housing, industry, retail and office development.

These issues were raised as representatives from the Gutierrez Company worked to address issues raised at the public hearing for the development on August 7.

Some of the issues raised by public safety personell have been addressed in a newly updated plan. These include a second means of entering the property and access to other sides of the building. A total of 4,300 square feet of wetlands would be impacted with 10,000 square feet needing to be replicated on the property.

The storm water management is still being worked on as another site plan visit is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Before the meeting came to a close, with the hearing to be extended to Sept. 25, Giunta suggested that the number of units be reduced from 249 to 225.

"I think that would remedy some of the issues that you have," he said in reference to drainage and wetlands.

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