Weiss Farm Update
259 units to be built at 170 Franklin Street
For years, one of the most frequently asked questions in Town is about the status of the Weiss Farm property located at 170 Franklin Street.
On June 27, 2014 the Stoneham Board of Appeals (BOA) received an application for a comprehensive permit from Weiss Farm Apartments, LLC (Corcoran) which proposed to construct 264 apartment units at 170 Franklin St. pursuant to Chapter 40B of Massachusetts General Law.
The Town through the Board of Selectmen (BOS) initiated discussions with Corcoran with regard to a potential land swap (Weiss Farm for the Stoneham Oaks golf course) in the summer of 2014 and conversations began in the late fall of 2015. As part of that process, Corcoran and the BOA paused the process on Weiss Farm during the winter and spring of 2016 to allow for land swap negotiations with the BOS. Discussions intensified during first half of 2016, there were multiple exchanges of term sheets and each exchange seemingly growing closer to an overall agreement but in July 2016 negotiations broke off without further comment and at this point, over three years later, Corcoran has no interest in further pursuing the idea of the land swap.
In tandem to all of the hearings and meetings between the BOA and Select Board, the Conservation Commission pursued other items which fell under their jurisdiction. On July 9, 2015 the Conservation Commission filed an enforcement Order against Weiss Farm, Inc. regarding storm water and wetland related issues. After a number of challenges and appeals, on February 1, 2019 the Superior Court upheld the decision of the Officer of Dispute Resolution, upholding the Department of Environmental Protection issuance of Superseding Order (effectively siding with the developer).
After 18 public hearings and numerous challenges, the BOA, at a public hearing on April 28, 2016, voted to grant a comprehensive permit to Weiss Farm Apartments, LLC. The decision reduced the number of apartments from the proposed number of 259 (as reduced by the applicant) to 124. In addition, the decision also required stormwater and traffic mitigation. Weiss Farm Apartments, LLC appealed the decision to the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee.
The Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee decision was received on March 21, 2021. With the support of Town officials, the Board of Appeals chose to appeal this HAC decision in Middlesex Superior Court. In the ensuing months the Town continued to communicate with the developer in the hopes of coming to some agreement that would both parties. In July 2022, however, the court was informed of an SJC opinion in the Milton case which used the same arguments that our appeal had. Unfortunately the HAC decision would be upheld as indicated in the Clerk’s Notice provided to the Town on July 21, 2022.
In 2023 the developer approached the Board of Appeals requesting an insubstantial change for the final comprehensive permit that had been drafted after some negotiations among Town officials. The Board of Appeals considered it to be a substantial change. After much back and forth, a second request was received and the Board of Appeals accepted this insubstantial change leading to the approval of a Final Comprehensive Permit which was filed on April 28, 2023.
The developer will now finalize the sale of the property with Donna Weiss and move forward with the project by filing for a building permit.
A timeline of events is provided below along with the HAC decision, some of the legal response, the Final Comprehensive Permit and the plans submitted to show the 259 unit apartment development known as the Commons at Weiss Farm. You may also follow along with some of the more recent conversation with the Boards involved by looking through their minutes.
“Weiss Farm Apartments, LLC” Abbreviated Chronology
DATE MATTER or EVENT
6/24/2014 Project Eligibility application issued by MassHousing.
6/30/2014 Comprehensive Permit application filed with the Board of Appeals.
7/24/2014 Board of Appeals asserts claim that Stoneham meets the 1.5% minimum area calculation of the statute and is “consistent with local needs.
9/18/2014 Board of Appeals files interlocutory appeal with Housing Appeals Committee following DHCD’s statement dated September 2, 2014 that Stoneham does not meet the 1.5% minimum area calculation.
12/112014 Housing Appeals Committee hearings on Board’s claim of consistent with local needs status.
6/26/2015 Housing Appeals Committee issues decision stating that Stoneham does not meet the 1.5% minimum area calculation.
7/9/2015 Conservation Commission files Enforcement Order Against Weiss Farm, Inc. regarding stormwater and wetland related issues.
10/5/2015 Weiss Farm, Inc. files appeal of Conservation Commission Enforcement Order with Middlesex Superior Court.
10/202015 Conservation Commission files Answer and Counterclaim against Weiss Farm, Inc. (Matter stayed until September 2019 by agreement of the parties).
7/21/2015 Board of Appeals files appeal with Middlesex Superior Court challenging Housing Appeals Committee’s decision regarding the 1.5% minimum area calculation.
7/21/2015 Comprehensive Permit public hearing opened following stay while 1.5% matter litigated at the Housing Appeals Committee.
12/21/2015 Board of Selectmen submit comments to MEPA asking MEPA to require an Environmental Impact Report as opposed to the Environmental Notification Form filed by the applicant.
1/22/2016 MEPA issues a Certificate stating that no Environmental Impact Report will be required for this project.
1/26/2016 Board of Selectmen and Conservation Commission file “Notice of Intent to Commence Action” in regard to MEPA determination.
4/13/2016 Comprehensive Permit public hearing closed.
4/27/2016 Comprehensive Permit decision recorded with Town Clerk.
5/20/2016 Appeal of Comprehensive Permit filed with Housing Appeals Committee by Weiss Farm, LLC.
6/7/2016 Housing Appeals Committee “orders” mediation of the matter among the parties.
6/14/2016 Board of Appeals objects to “order” and requested reconsideration of the “order”.
6/20/2016 Housing Appeals Committee reverses “order” and does not require mediation of the matter.
7/27/2015 Conservation Commission issues Order of Conditions denying the project.
7/8/2016 DEP issues Superseding Order overturning Order of Conditions issued by the Conservation Commission.
7/19/2016 Conservation Commission files appeal of DEP Superseding Order with the Office of Dispute Resolution.
7/27/2016 Middlesex Superior Court dismisses Board of Appeals interlocutory appeal of Housing Appeals Committee’s decision regarding the 1.5% area calculation.
3/27/2017 Adjudicatory hearing before the Office of Dispute Resolution challenging DEP’s Superseding Order of Conditions.
9/5/2017 Office of Dispute Resolution upholds with revisions, DEP’s Superseding Order of Conditions.
10/2/2017 Conservation Commission files appeal of Office of Dispute Resolution’s decision with the Superior Court.
10/6/2017 Board of Appeals files suit in Superior Court seeking access to “group home” data under the control of state agencies so as to add the same to the Town’s 1.5% area calculation.
10/13/2017 Board of Appeals files renewed motion for stay with the Housing Appeals Committee seeking to stay substantive hearings until after compliance with the Superior Court’s order regarding group home data.
5/23/2018 Middlesex Superior Court upholds Board of Appeals’ motion seeking access to DDS, DMH and DHCD files relating to the location of “group homes” in Stoneham.
2/1/2019 Superior Court upholds decision of the Officer of Dispute Resolution, upholding DEP issuance of Superseding Order.
3/15/2021 The Housing Appeals Committee Decision is filed
3/23/2021 The Zoning Board of Appeals announced at a meeting that the Board would file an appeal of the HAC decision
3/4/2022 Letter to counsel is filed
3/4/2022 Plaintiff's reply
7/20/2022 Letter from the Attorney General regarding a case involving the Town of Milton
7/21/2022 Middlesex Superior Court Clerk's Notice
8/2022 In late August, early September, it was determined that the Town would not appeal further. Discussions would continue to happen for several months. Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission and Select Board minutes wil reflect some of what transpired in 2022 leading in to 2023.
2/17/2023 Extension Permit for Superseding Order of Conditions provided by DEP
Corcoran & Company will be filing a final set of plans with the Board of Appeals in the coming weeks.