Weston Whopper Current Status and History

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Current Status:

April 7, 2021: ZBA Hearings. The ZBA opened the first of many hearings on the Comprehensive Permit application for the Whopper. The ZBA must conclude its hearings within 180 days of April 7, 2021 and then must issue a decision on the Comprehensive Permit.

History:

November 2018:  Jonathan Buchman purchases 510 and 518 South Avenue for $1, 050,000.

December 2018:  Buchman meets with Town Manager and Town Planner to propose the Whopper.

January-April 2019:  Buchman meets with Town Department Heads and abutters to present plans for the Whopper.  Original proposal is for 275 apartment units.

May 2019:  Buchman purchases 540 South Avenue for $537,500.

June 2019:  Hanover Company and Buchman (the “Developers”) present the Whopper to the Board of Selectmen with 275 units.

June 2019:  Hanover and Buchman present the Whopper to the Planning Board revising their project downward from 275 to 200 units.  Developers refuse to present any revised plans or revised financials that reflect the change in size from 275 units to 200 units.

October 2019:  Land Use Safe Harbor.  At the first ZBA hearing to review the Comprehensive Permit for the Whopper, the ZBA declares that the Town of Weston meets the 1.5% land use safe harbor provision of 40B.  The ZBA offers to allow Developers to present their project to the Town but Developers decline the offer.  Developers are unable to obtain a Comprehensive Permit while the Town is in Safe Harbor.

October 2019:  Safe Harbor Appeal.  The Developers appeal Weston’s Safe Harbor status to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD).  DCHD issues a ruling in favor of the developer.  Weston appeals the DCHD decision to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).  The project cannot move forward through the ZBA hearing process until HAC issues a decision on the Safe Harbor Appeal.

July 2020:  Concom Hearings.  Developers submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the Weston Conservation Commission (Concom) to obtain an Order of Conditions (OOC) to build the Whopper even though the Developers cannot obtain a Comprehensive Permit from the ZBA while the Safe Harbor Appeal is pending.  Town residents apply for immediate injunctive relief to stop the Concom hearings as well as a judgment from the Massachusetts Superior Court ruling that the Developers cannot submit an NOI and obtain an OOC until they present the project to the ZBA and the ZBA issues a decision on the Comprehensive Permit as specified in the 40B regulations.

August 2020-December 2020:  Concom decides to open hearings on the Whopper pending the determination of the Court on the residents’ legal case.  During the course of these proceedings Concom members and residents learn about the damaging impacts to the wetlands from this overly-dense project that is being proposed to be built on just 4 acres of land abutting 5 acres of wetlands, Bogle Brook and the Weston’s protected Blaney Aquifer Zoning District.

March 15, 2021:  HAC issues a decision in favor of the Developers denying the Town’s safe harbor status.  As a result, the ZBA must start hearings on the Whopper within 30 days of March 15.  The ZBA hearings must be concluded within 180 days after opening.  AFTER the ZBA issues a decision on the Whopper, the Town can appeal the HAC decision to the Massachusetts Superior Court and town residents should encourage this appeal.

March 16, 2021:  The Massachusetts Superior Court rules in favor of town residents declaring that the Developers cannot submit an NOI and that Concom cannot hold hearings on the Whopper until the ZBA issues a decision on the Comprehensive Permit application.  The Concom hearings are halted until the ZBA hearings conclude and the ZBA issues its decision on the Whopper.

Other important dates and pending matters:

June 2019:  Stream Status.  ConCom issues an Order of Conditions determining that the stream flowing through the project site is “intermittent” rather than “perennial.”  This means the buffer zone for the project is only 100 feet rather than 200 feet for a perennial stream.  Town residents appeal this order.  This appeal is currently pending at DEP and a decision on stream status is expected within the next 6 months.