Development

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Current map of Hancock Village


Summary of Proposed Development at Hancock Village Since 2009

In Jan 2009, Ed Zuker of Chestnut Hill Realty (CHR) presented his plan to develop Hancock Village to the Brookline Board of Selectman. The Board of Selectmen assembled the Hancock Village Planning Committee. Among the highlights of CHR’s proposal: 460 new units, S-7 road/parking lots, new 3 story buildings near the S-7 border. 7 story building (200 units) near Boston line on West side and 4 story building (125 units) on East site. This number of additional units represents the maximal permitted by floor area ratio calculations alone (see zoning).

The plan was revised several times between, but all featured a maximal buildout of the lot in question. 

Fiscal impact consultants for the Town and for CHR independently concluded in 2010 that the proposals would cost the Town millions in excess of the current losses the Town suffers as a result of Hancock Village. In 2011, The HV Planning Committee final report noted the community's strong concerns about CHR's proposals, and CHR's lack of responsiveness to those concerns. Among the major issues with the proposed development were the negative fiscal impacts, school crowding, and loss of open space. 

At the Fall 2011 Brookline Town Meeting, the Town enacted by an overwhelming majority new Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) bylaws as a means to conserve neighborhoods through mechanisms complementary to zoning. In addition, the first NCD was established at Hancock Village, allowing a Hancock Village Neighborhood Conservation District the authority to review designs for changes to be made at Hancock Village. In 2012, the state Attorney General approved the new NCD legislation, making it law.

CHR then elected to try to overcome local zoning restrictions by using Mass Chapter 40B, which is designed to increase affordable housing. In 2012, MassDevelopment was ready to issue its denial of CHR's 40B application when CHR withdrew it. The proposed development was found to be incongruous with the the neighborhood. However, in 2013 CHR submitted a plan with few changes and MassDevelopment inexplicably granted project eligibility. The comprehensive permit plan was reviewed in Brookline's ZBA over the course of one year and many contentious ZBA meetings. In early 2015, the ZBA granted a comprehensive permit. 

The Town of Brookline and several abutters then sued the ZBA, MassDevelopment, and CHR. The substance of the lawsuit was that (1) MassDevelopment does not have statutory authority to finance residential developments in unblighted areas; (2) MassDevelopment did not follow regulations in issuing the 40B project eligibility; (3) the ZBA was arbitrary and capricious in its review of the Comprehensive Permit application; and (4) an agreement between the Town and the original developer made in 1946 precluded further development. Although point #4 was decided in CHR's favor, points 1-3 withstood motions for dismissal in Land Court. 

Meanwhile, CHR submitted a second 40B Comprehensive Permit Application to the ZBA, again with MassDevelopment as the funding agency. 

In 2016, the Town, neighborhood plaintiffs, and CHR entered negotiations and signed an agreement about parameters for a comprehensive development plan for Hancock Village. However, CHR subsequently altered the terms of this agreement such that the neighborhood could no longer support its execution as zoning changes in Town Meeting. In Nov 2017, Town Meeting voted No Action on these zoning changes.

Details of various development proposals are available on the following pages: