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Friday, November 4, 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.