Weiss Farm Update 2019
One of the most frequently asked questions in Town is about the status of Weiss Farm. The information below seeks to provide a status update on the project as of early October 2019 but it remains a fluid situation and is subject to change.
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 and the matter currently awaits a decision from the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee.
It is this Massachusetts Housing Appeal Committee decision that will form (or limit) the Town’s options and path forward. While the project has been in front of the Committee for nearly two years, the Town does not have an anticipated decision date. While this decision is pending, Town officials have maintained a dialogue with the developer over the past year in order to maintain communication and seek alternatives in the Town’s best interest. The Town will make every effort to keep residents informed as information becomes publicly available.
“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.
NOTE: Awaiting preliminary decision from the Housing Appeals Committee in Weiss Farm Apartments, LLC’s appeal of the decision of the Board of Appeals