Public Hearings this Month

Dear Neighbors,

Below is some background and factual information about a set of warrant articles that will come before Town Meeting on 11/14/2017. They describe a development plan for Hancock Village that includes addition of units, roads, and parking in an alternative configuration to the approved 40B (affordable housing law) plan plus a 40B proposal that has been submitted. These can be found here:

http://www.brooklinema.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/12692
           (map on page 34)

http://www.brooklinema.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/12691
           (explanations of warrant articles)

           The intent of this letter is to provide factual information and alert you to upcoming meetings about the warrant articles. These are the meetings scheduled that we are aware of:
  • Oct 11th 7pm Advisory Committee Planning & Regulation Subcommittee - Public hearing
  • Oct 12th 7:30pm Planning Board Public Hearing
  • Oct 17th 5pm Advisory Committee Planning & Regulation Subcommittee - Second public hearing​
  • Oct 17th 7:15 Preservation Commission (public hearing and CHR request to demolish garages)
  • November 8th LWV / TMMA forum (these warrant articles may be discussed but we have not confirmed it).
Please reach out to your neighborhood Town Meeting members for more information, and attend the above meeting to voice your opinions. Your Town meeting members will be voting on the warrant articles in November.  The zoning change that would allow for this new development ( Warrant Article 10) requires 2/3 of Town Meeting Members to vote to approve. 

Precinct 16 Town Meeting Members (in alphabetical order).
  • Saralynn Allaire
  • Adrienne Bowman
  • Stephen Chiumenti
  • Regina Frawley
  • Tom Gallitano
  • Scott Gladstone
  • Julie Jette
  • Alisa Jonas
  • Judith Leichtner
  • William Pu
  • Josh Safer
  • Irene Scharf
  • Nathan Shpritz
  • Tim Sullivan
  • Carolyn Thall

Email addresses can be found here: 
PreserveBrookline

Background
Hancock Village currently contains about 530 Brookline units (plus  200+ additional units in Boston). In 2009, CHR proposed expanding HV in Brookline by building 466 additional units and 855 additional parking spaces. CHR proposed several variations of its plans, but did not receive support from a town-wide Hancock Village Planning Committee. In 2011, Brookline established Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) to help communities promote smart development and conserve neighborhood character. The first NCD was formed at Hancock Village to regulate its future development.

CHR 40B Proposals. In 2012, CHR submitted an application to MassDevelopment to develop the portion of HV closest to abutting properties on Beverly and Russett Roads, under a Massachusetts affordable house law known as “40B” that allows developers to sidestep local zoning in return for building developments with 20-25% “affordable” units. MassDevelopment had drafted a letter to deny this application, when CHR voluntarily withdrew it. CHR then resubmitted a proposal to MassDevelopment in 2013, which granted project eligibility. Between 2013-2014, the project was reviewed by Brookline’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which is tasked by 40B regulations with reviewing the project. These meetings were highly contentious. In 2015, the ZBA approved the plan with minor modifications. The approved plan had 161 units, 333 BR, and 292 parking. There were 45 3-4 BR units. The Town and a few neighbors sued the  ZBA, CHR and Mass Development to prevent this project. 

In 2016, MassDevelopment granted CHR project eligibility for a second 40B proposal for a second development within Hancock Village on Sherman and Gerry Roads. This second 40B contained 226 units, 480 BR, and 350 parking. There were 32 3-4 BR units .

Legal Action. The Town sued MassDevelopment, the ZBA and CHR, and asked several abutters to join the lawsuit. The lawsuit raised these complaints:
  1. Development of the property was restricted by a public contract made between the original developer and Town in 1946.
  2. The Project Eligibility Letter was not determined in a manner consistent with MassDevelopment and 40B rules.
  3. MassDevelopment’s charter is limited to blighted properties and therefore it did not have authority to confer project eligibility.
  4. The ZBA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in reaching its decision.

CHR’s motion to dismiss the contract part of the lawsuit was upheld in Superior Court and the Mass Court of Appeals. The remaining issues of the lawsuit were then brought to Land Court, where motions for its dismissal were denied, so the lawsuit continued.

Negotiations. Following the start of ZBA proceedings on the second HV 40B, Brookline, neighborhood representatives, and CHR entered into discussions to try to achieve a better solution at HV. In November 2016, a set of principles and parameters for HV development were agreed upon in the form of a signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Among the key features of the MOA:
  1. Total units 360 net;
  2. Total BR 524 net, with no 3-4 BR units (the state has subsequently mandated 11 3 BR units).
  3. The sensitive green belt between HV and Russett/Beverly will have roads and parking, but no dwellings;  undeveloped portions will be deeded to Brookline, approximately 1/3 of the green belt.
  4. No traffic egress onto Russett
  5. No further development of HV. The Land Court lawsuit and second 40B ZBA process were suspended under this MOA.
Warrant Articles. CHR and Brookline put the principles and parameters agreed upon in the MOA into final form, without significant input from neighborhood representatives. Some features of the proposed warrant articles that surprised neighborhood representatives were:
  1. Conversion of 13 existing laundry rooms to bedrooms.
  2. Giving CHR the right to add 25,000 sq ft of additions to existing units in 10 years.
  3. A trash house located at the edge of HV in the greenbelt on the Russett side, 10 ft from abutters.
  4. The dissolution of the Hancock Village Neighborhood Conservation District.