652 Canton Ave. project “completely inappropriate” according to Milton Select Board

Select Board Update
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652 Canton Ave. project “completely inappropriate” according to Milton Select Board

Feb. 17 and Feb 18 Select Board Update: 652 Canton Ave. PEL & contracts

These two meetings were very brief. The Project Eligibility Letter (PEL) for 652 Canton Ave. was discussed.

“Based on the feedback received to date, is the Board’s opinion that the Proposed Project is completely inappropriate for the site and the surrounding area.”

The Select Board specified two main concerns in the letter:

In this Board’s opinion, when viewed in context with the 648 Canton Avenue project, the Proposed Project represents a cynical attempt by the developer to manipulate the Project Eligibility and ZBA processes by treating one massive project in which the constituent parts are dependent on one another, as two separate projects.

It is premature, therefore, for the ZBA to consider the Proposed Project until the ZBA’s review of the 648 Canton Avenue proposal is complete. As a result of the review process underway for 648 Canton Avenue, it may be determined that an alternative design or site plan would best mitigate the impacts of that proposal. As a practical matter, any changes to the 648 Canton Avenue proposal are likely to have ripple effects on the Proposed Project, particularly with respect to site access.

Having both projects before the ZBA at the same time runs the risk of precluding the ZBA – and the applicant – from considering changes to 648 Canton Avenue (e.g., site access) that would result in the best possible plan for that project simply for the sake of the Proposed Project. Accordingly, the Board suggests that MassHousing delay making any decision on site eligibility for the Proposed
Project until there is resolution of the approval status of 648 Canton Avenue.

The second serious concern pertains to the Applicant’s assertion that the Proposed Project site has sufficient deeded vehicular access rights in the existing way known as Canton Avenue Extension (a/k/a Merjwood Avenue) to negate the need for access through 648 Canton Avenue.

In the public comment process, counsel for a group of neighbors and abutters has questioned whether the degree of access is, indeed, sufficient. To assist MassHousing in evaluating this issue as it pertains to the “site control” element of Site Eligibility, the Board includes herewith a memo from Edward Corcoran, Esq., counsel for the Canton Avenue Extension neighbors of 652 Canton Avenue, abutters, and other neighbors. Clearly the Applicant’s legal right to add traffic to the Canton Avenue Extension per the existing easement is significant in both MassHousing’s evaluation of Site Eligibility and the ZBA’s ultimate evaluation of access to the Proposed Project.

The letter has been submitted and it in its entirety, and related documents are available for public view here: 652 Canton Avenue Chapter 40B Application | Milton MA (townofmilton.org)

In the meeting, the Select Board also discussed the contract for 582 Blue Hill Ave. for a landscape architect. The Select Board motioned in favor of looking over other similar contract proposals as to help facilitate the pace of project work.

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