Zoning Board of Appeals Timeline

Weiss Farm Timeline — ZBA

Board of Appeals received the application for comprehensive permit on June 27, 2014.  The applicant, Weiss Farm Apartments,  LLC (Corcoran) proposed to construct 264 apartment units at 170 Franklin Street, Stoneham pursuant to Chapter 40B of the Massachusetts General Laws.

  1. The Board of Appeals convened a public hearing on July 24, 2014 in the Town Hall. At the public hearing, members of the board voted unanimously to authorize counsel to challenge the application on the grounds that the Town was already “consistent with local need” under Chapter 40B, that is, the Town currently had low or moderate housing on sites “comprising 1.5% or more of the total land area zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use.” This appeal to the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee raised a number of preliminary legal challenges to the Weiss Farm Application.
  2. On June 26, 2015, the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee ruled in favor of Weiss Farm and the matter was remanded to the Stoneham Board of Appeals where the hearings then commenced.
  3. Given the size and density of the proposed development, a number of concerns were identified by residents and Board members. These concerns included flooding and storm water issues which were already significant at the Weiss Farm location and in  the surrounding area. Also, motor vehicle traffic on Franklin Street, already heavy during the beginning and end of the school days at the nearby high school, would be burdened still further with additional cars entering the roadway during peak hours.  
  4. With the resumption of hearings, the Board heard from a number of residents as well as experts who were hired by the applicant. Additional experts were engaged by the Town (at the expense of the applicant). Among those who testified were the following: traffic engineers — Heather Monticup and Jeffrey Dirk; landscape architects — Stephen Cecil and Hugh Russell; civil engineers (storm water et al) James White and Thomas Houston; pro forma analysis (the financials) Robert Engler and Robert Stankus, CPA.
  5. On December 15, 2015, in response to a request from the applicant, the Board of Appeals voted to stay its hearings on the Weiss Farm application for 90 days to allow Weiss Farm Apartments and the then Board of Selectmen to pursue an alternative resolution of the case in the form of a land swap. It was well known that the applicant and the Selectmen were meeting in executive session concerning this proposal and it was represented to the Board of Appeals that the proposed 90 stay would be sufficient to bring the matter to a conclusion, presumably with a vote of Town Meeting. None of these anticipated events ultimately took place and the hearings resumed before the Board of Appeals on March 15, 2016.
  6. At a public hearing on April 28, 2016, the Stoneham Board of Appeals 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.

In total, the Board of Appeals conducted 18 public hearings on the Weiss Farm Application.