Today, the Neponset River Watershed Association submitted a comment letter to the Mass Housing Finance Agency on the proposed Milton Mews 40B development project which would be located on Brush Hill Road in Milton. The letter, which was co-signed by 1,328 petitioners, called on MassHousing to deny the project’s eligibility application.
The petitioners’ signatures were collected through a combination of paper signature forms and an online petition. Included with the letter were additional comments submitted by many of those who signed the online petition. These comments can be viewed online at the petition hosting site, and additional online petition signatures are still being collected.
The Milton Mews project is being put forward by Mill Creek Residential under the state’s 40B affordable housing rules, which would exempt it from local zoning and wetlands requirements in the Town of Milton. The project would include 276 units of housing in three buildings of up to five stories each.
The project is located at 1383 Brush Hill Road (Map). The 20-acre site currently includes three homes, but is heavily wooded and contains numerous wetland areas and a stream. The entire site is well inside the boundaries of the Fowl Meadow Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and abuts the publicly-owned Neponset River Reservation.
The Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs granted the area ACEC status in 1992, following a nomination by the Watershed Association, and with the support of area conservation commissions, local political leaders and natural resource agencies.
The legislation establishing the state’s ACEC program and the associated ACEC regulations, direct state agencies to identify ACECs (defined generally as areas in which multiple types of regionally-significant natural and cultural resources overlap) and to take steps to protect and restore these areas.
The comment letter asks MassHousing, which is a state agency, to deny the project’s application for state-subsidized financing.
It makes little sense, in our view, for one arm of state government to be trying to protect the Fowl Meadow ACEC, while another branch subsidizes the destruction of the same area.
Among other concerns, the comment letter also points out that the majority of the site, including the construction areas, is mapped as priority habitat for endangered species. Some endangered species recently have been spotted on the site.
Last night, Watershed Association Board Member, Taber Keally, presented a copy of the comment letter and list of petitioners to the Milton Board of Selectmen. In addition, Keally presented a memo outlining details of wetland act regulations that prohibit the filling of wetlands in the manner shown on the developer’s conceptual plans.
MassHousing recently granted the Town of Canton until July 1, to submit comments on the project.
Comments from the Town of Milton, where the project is located, are due Monday, June 10. As a result of the comment deadline extension for Canton, Mass Housing will continue to accept comments from the public, through July 1.
Anyone wishing to comment may direct correspondence to:
Manager of Comprehensive Permit Programs
MassHousing Finance Agency
One Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
The Watershed Association will be taking advantage of the additional time to submit more technical comments that expand on the issues raised in the letter submitted, today.
The Association also is encouraging additional people to co-sign the original letter, using the online petition. The Association will forward any additional names and personal comments received before July 1, to Mass Housing.
Those preparing comments may wish to refer to copies of the project conceptual plans on the town of Milton website.
By Ian Cooke, Executive Director, June 7, 2013