Legal Consultants Helping Brookline Fight Hancock Village 40B Plans
Town retains two lawyers from Boston firm Krokidas and Bluestein to advise officials about Chestnut Hill Realty's 40B proposal in Hancock Village.
The complexities of Chapter 40B planning, specifically in Brookline's Hancock Village, will be handled by experts.
Selectmen voted unanimously last night to retain two lawyers from Boston law firm Krokidas and Bluestein. They also had a number of questions for attorneys Kathy Murphy and Sam Nagler, who outlined the next steps of the process.
The town will receive a letter from MassDevelopment, one of the state's financial and development authorities, with their findings regarding the project. After which the town has a 30 day comment period to state its case.
"You are encouraged to involve all town boards and the public in responding to that letter." Murphy told the board the comment period is "also the opportunity to comment on the suitability of the site for 40B, and the preliminary design and its suitability for the neighborhood."
She explained that the town should focus on elements of the design, character of the neighborhood, traffic impacts, suitability of the site and impacts on the town. The question of ballooning school populations, however, are not likely to sway the authorities.
Said Murphy, "I think, having read many of the decisions, it’s the town’s job to provide classrooms for students, however they show up."
Acting as consultants, officials have given the lawyer team the authority to take on more members of the legal team if the expertise is needed--such as may be the case if the financial suitability of the project becomes a question.
However, it is too early to tell whether MassDevelopment will make a finding of financial suitability and, Nagler explained, "You can't look beyond that."
At the end of August, the Selectmen were informed by Town Administrator Mel Kleckner of Chestnut Hill Realty's proposed 40B plans, which included twelve new buildings housing 271 units to be built in the much-discussed Hancock Village development.
Chapter 40B allows developers to bypass certain aspects of zoning law if they create some affordable housing units, which count toward the town's required 10 percent. Brookline currently stands at eight percent, officials say.
At last year's Fall Town Meeting, members approved both the Neighborhood Conservation District warrant article, and the NCD around Hancock Village. This followed the Selectmen in January calling for "rigorous scrutiny" of the studies performed by the developers, Chestnut Hill Realty, sudies which called for more seniors and fewer families.
At the previous meeting, Kleckner also added that he and a number of staff plan to attend a Sept. 28 seminar on Chapter 40B filings.