ZBA APPROVES UNIVERSITY DRIVE SOUTH MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT WITH CONDITIONS

Architects rendition of proposed mixed use project - University Drive South.

REPORT: ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS  (3/12/20)

Present:Mark Parent, Chair Steven Judge,Tammy Parks, Joan O’Meara (Tom Simpson was not available so four YES votes were required for permit approval).

University Drive South
University Drive South, a mixed use project of 45 studio and one-bedroom apartments (five “affordable” at the 80% AMI level) with an ophthalmologist’s office on the ground floor (hearing continued from Feb. 20, 2020) was approved with many conditions. Among the changes suggested by the Planning Board were to reduce the number and size of the windows on the north (street) façade and the paint color from brick red, gray and white to dark and light gray and white. An abutter also had objected to the red color.

The appellant had presented two parking options and the Board agreed with Option B which provided 64 total spaces as follows: 12 for daytime patient parking (available for residents at night), 45 spaces for the residential units, two spaces for Uber or Zipcar and, three ADA compliant spaces. Twenty proposed off-site spaces south of the roundabout and proposed metered street parking will require approval of the Town Council in their role of keepers of the ways. A waiver for five cars within the required 8-foot setback of the building was granted. As an inducement,  tenants who forgo parking will be offered a rent reduction and perhaps one of the 30 indoor or 20 outdoor bicycle storage slots in lieu of a parking space. The lessor may also provide them with bicycles.

The lighting, storm drainage and soil erosion mitigation plans were approved as amended. Lastly, the Board had to find (under Zoning Bylaw Section 9.22) that “…the alteration…[is not] substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood than the existing” 1960 single family home which became non-conforming when the land was re-zoned PRP from residential in 1980 because no residential uses are allowed in a Professional Research Park. In a legal brief requested by the ZBA Chair, the appellant’s attorney cited Massachusetts case law to argued that changing from one residential use to another residential use (mixed use) is not substantially different in effect on the neighborhood or the property in the vicinity because its neighbor to the west is an 88-unit (120 bed) apartment complex. That rather than being a detriment to the neighborhood, site clean-up, wetlands enhancement and restoration, invasive species control along will be an improvement.  Above all, the taxes to the Town would increase from $7500 to $175,000 while providing needed housing and services.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary at 85 University Drive
MassMedicum Corporation requested a Special Permit for a modification, under Section 10.33 of the Zoning Bylaw, of the existing Off-Site Medical Marijuana Dispensary (OMMD, Section 3.363.1, Zoning Bylaw), to the previously approved Special Permit ZBA FY 2018-22, to modify the Conditions 2, 7, 10 14, 16, 17, 19, and 22, located at 85 University Drive (Map 13B/Parcel 17), Limited Business (B-L) and Research & Development (R&D) Zoning Districts. MassMedicum Corporaation also requested a Special Permit for the use of a Recreational Marijuana Retailer, under Section 3.363.2, co-located with the existing Off-Site Medical Marijuana Dispensary, located at 85 University Drive (Map 13B/Parcel 17), Limited Business (B-L) and Research & Development (R&D) Zoning Districts. 

The ZBA determined that the applicant needs to modify the previously approved Special Permit ZBA FY 2018-22 for several conditions, including condition 14, which states: “This Special Permit is issued solely for the operation of an Off-Site Medical Marijuana Dispensary (OMMD)….It is not transferable to any other applicant, nor does it allow retail sales of marijuana products to any member of the general public who has not received a medical marijuana card.”

In essence, the applicant needs to modify  Special Permit ZBA FY 2018-22 condition #14  in order for them to be allowed to request their Special Permit application (ZBA FY2020-20) Permit for the use of a Recreational Marijuana Retailer, under Section 3.363.2, co-located with the existing Off-Site Medical Marijuana Dispensary, at 85 University Drive. 

Public hearings are continuing because the applicant is revising their parking plan and the Board is waiting for clarification on whether the capital partners of the business may be changing. 

Special Permit Hearing for 44 Belchertown Road
Thomas Mitchell requested a Special Permit to modify the previously approved Special Permit ZBA FY2005-06 in order to remove Condition 3 which requires the permit to expire upon change of ownership or management and replace it with a condition that requires a new owner to submit a new Management Plan for the ZBA review and approval at a public meeting Property located at 44 Belchertown Road (Map 15C/Parcel 63), Commercial (COM) Zoning District. 

The ZBA discussed placing two conditions, including: 

  1. The approved Management Plan shall be followed at all times
  1. If there are any changes to the Management Plan, including a new property owner, an updated Management Plan shall be submitted the ZBA for review and approval at a Public Meeting. 

The ZBA approved this Special Permit application 4-0, with the 2 conditions, described above. 


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