This section presents an assessment of the two development alternatives for the Project Site. This Project has undergone significant public scrutiny during the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 61A process. During this process the Proponent developer reduced the proposed number of new dwelling units from 1,360 with 500,000 square feet of commercial space to 940 dwelling units with 450,000 square feet of commercial space. This narrative describes and evaluates the current Legacy Farms Alternative and the Single Family Alternative:
Legacy Farms Alternative
- Legacy Farms Alternative: Currently proposed as the Master Plan, the Legacy Farms Alternative would develop a mixed-use program on the Project Site with 450,000 SF of commercial/retail space, 940 new dwelling units and approximately 500 acres of open space
- Single Family Alternative: The Project Site would be developed as single-family lots allowable under the existing zoning according to the Town of Hopkinton Zoning Bylaw. Under this plan, the Project Site would yield approximately 547 new dwelling units, including a 200-unit 40B and 347 single-family lots.
The Legacy Farms Alternative allows for a low impact development to be implemented. This would leave 500 acres of open space, which would be restored, and contain space for recreational fields and trails. 940 dwelling units could be built and spread throughout the site in small clusters. This alternative would include 240 rental apartments of which 25% would be affordable, but all 240 will qualify as affordable housing consistent with the affordable housing guidelines of the Commonwealth and the Town of Hopkinton.
This alternative also includes a total of 450,000 square feet of Commercial uses. Examples of these Commercial uses include retail, office, life sciences and medical office space. A village center is planned along East Main Street with a repositioned Weston Nurseries as a key aspect of the retail “Village Center” component.
Single Family Alternative
The Single Family Alternative would allow the creation of approximately 347 new single-family dwelling units and a 200 unit 40B development (for a total of 547 new dwelling units) on approximately 610 acres of the Project Site. Approximately 111 single-family housing units would be constructed as Approval Not Required (ANR) lots. The remainder of the Project Site would be developed as single family lots allowable under the existing Town of Hopkinton Zoning Bylaw. The current zoning would yield approximately 152 new single-family lots of 60,000 SF on the north side of the Project Site and 84 new single-family lots of 45,000 SF on the south side of the Project Site.
There is no commercial development on the Project Site under this alternative. Furthermore, this alternative layout does not support the restoration and ongoing operations of Weston Nurseries. Under this alternative, the north portion of the Project Site would be accessed from four points: the existing access at Route 135, an additional access further west on Route 135 and two access points off Wilson Street. The southern portion of the Project Site would be accessed from one point off Route 135, one access point on Curtis Road, and three access points on Clinton Street.
Comparison of Alternatives
The Single Family Alternative site layout is a standard subdivision plan that maximizes the buildable land of the Project Site to the extent allowable. The environmental impacts of this alternative are significant. When compared with the compact nature of the Legacy Farms Alternative, the Single Family Alternative is sprawling and results in significantly more land alteration. The amount of land altered would total approximately 610 acres compared to the 233 acres in the Preferred Alternative.
Under the Single Family Alternative, no usable land is available for the restoration and preservation of open space. Only areas with limited development opportunity, such as wetlands and steep slopes, are available as open space. The amount of land left over after the subdivision of land, approximately 123 acres, would be largely unusable for recreation. The impervious surface will be significantly higher in the Single Family Alternative due to the required 50-foot right-of-ways instead of the reduced width roadways proposed under the Legacy Farms Alternative. Furthermore, the Single Family Alternative does not realize the storm water management improvements proposed by the Legacy Farms Alternative.
Under the Legacy Farms Alternative there will be 500 acres of preserved and restored open space compared to 123 acres in the Single Family Alternative. Land, open to the public,, will be made available for recreational fields, while trails will weave through the site and connect with existing off site trails. Roads will be developed with low impact development principles in mind to reduce the amount of impervious surface and maintain a country feel. The developer will be able to improve the current water system by looping it with the existing system and implement improved storm water management.
While the traffic impact of the Single Family Alternative would result in fewer new vehicle trips, the traffic mitigation proposed in the Legacy Farms Alternative, including a new bypass roadway and intersection improvements along Route 135, would not be realized.
Individual single-family home subdivision lots on the Project Site will also require the installation of individual Title 5 septic systems, which provide limited treatment and no disinfection of wastewater flows. The project under the Legacy Farms Alternative would all be connected to a wastewater treatment facility that treats the water and directs it back to the water basin from which it came. These proposed wastewater improvements under the Legacy Farms Alternative would not be realized under Single Family Alternative.
The Town of Hopkinton would furthermore experience significant negative fiscal impacts from the Single Family Alternative. As shown in the Fiscal Impact Analysis report prepared by Connery Associates, this alternative would result in a net annual loss of approximately $2, 500,000 compared to the $3,000,000+ net annual gain under the Legacy Farms Analysis. The amount in the Single Family Alternative is based on the annual service costs associated with the subdivision less the revenue expected from the project in the form of additional property and excise taxes as well as local receipts. The annual service costs include items such as the operation and maintenance of new subdivision roadways and infrastructure associated with the subdivision, as these costs would be borne by the Town. Furthermore, the significant number of school-age children, as a result of the incidence of single-family homes would stress the Hopkinton school system and the Town’s finances.
The Legacy Farms Alternative will provide a net annual benefit of more than $3,000,000 at completion and will generate over $2,000,000 in building permit fees over the course of construction (please see the Fiscal Impact Analysis report prepared by Connery Associates for more detailed information on the fiscal benefits of the project.)
Conclusion: Selection of Legacy Farms Alternative
The Legacy Farms Alternative will result in substantial advantages over the Single Family Alternative. Fiscally, the Legacy Farms Alternative would increase net tax revenues for the Town of Hopkinton by $5,000,000+ over the Single Family Alternative. The Legacy Farms Alternative will also result in many other benefits, including improving the condition of the land by providing approximately 500 acres of open space and reducing the use of fertilizer and nitrates; improving traffic conditions in and around the Project Site for both Hopkinton residents and businesses, as well as commuters utilizing Route 9, Interstate Route 495 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, by providing a new roadway between Route 135 and Southborough; managing storm water runoff and minimizing impacts to wetlands resource areas; reducing historic water demand at the Project Site; constructing facilities for the treatment of wastewater; and incorporating environmentally responsible techniques in site design and construction. Additionally, the Proponent will cooperate with the municipality to substantially improve the local water system.
After comparing the two alternatives, the Legacy Farms Alternative offers far more benefits for the town and its residents than the Single Family Alternative.