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Wakefield Housing Development Concerns Reading Officials

Jan 07, 2019 10:28PM ● By Dan Marra

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WAKEFIELD – Reading Town officials are paying close attention to a major housing development that is under consideration in Wakefield.

The 190-unit 40B housing project has been proposed for Tarrant Lane, a dead-end street just north of Rt. 95 in Wakefield. However, while this project is located in Wakefield, the main access roads to this development will be along South Street and Hopkins Street in Reading.

Reading officials are scheduled to discuss this project at the Select Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. The Wakefield Zoning Board of Appeals will also be talking about this project at their meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Both meetings are open to the public.

“Hopkins and South Street are already a cut-through,” said Barry Berman, vice chair of the Reading Select Board. “We have a good working relationship with the town of Wakefield and we want to hear what some of the concerns are for our residents and we’ll reach out to the Wakefield Zoning Board.”

Berman said though, that because this development is in Wakefield, there’s not a lot Reading officials can do.

“What we can do is limited, but we want our neighbors to be heard,” Berman said.

Some of those concerns are focused on the narrow streets in the area and the increase in traffic a 190-unit development could create.

Currently on the Tarrant Lane property sits a residential development of 12 single-family homes previously used by the United States military. In 2017, DB5 Development Group purchased the property from the U.S. Coast Guard. The proposed project would allow DB5 to construct a 190-unit, 3-building rental apartment development on the property. If approved, the project is expected to be completed in 18-24 months.

A quarter of the proposed units would be affordable housing, but under state law all 190 would count toward Wakefield’s affordable housing quota because all of the units will be rentals. If approved, the project would bring the town in line with a state threshold of 10 percent. Achieving that minimum threshold would give Wakefield more discretion over such proposals in the future. Proponents say it would also help to diversify the community and bring in young families who might otherwise be priced out.

“We are not unsympathetic to Wakefield,” Berman said. “Towns have a moral and legal responsibility to create more affordable housing in the community. We just want them to take into consideration our concerns. We have a good working relationship with Wakefield and we’ll do the best we can to get our concerns heard.”

Anthony Bonacorso, whose company Bonacorso Construction and Development LLC, would oversee the design and construction, says that the 40B process promotes healthy engagement between developers, municipalities, and residents.

“It’s not a ‘shove the project down the town’s throat’ kind of approach,” he said, noting that his company made a number of modifications based on meetings with Board of Selectmen last spring. After an initial Nov. 14 hearing before the Board of Appeals, he said he will appear before the board for a series of subsequent meetings to examine various aspects of the project, including architecture and traffic considerations.

The proposed three-building development will contain four studio units, 108 one-bedroom units, 59 two-bedroom units, and 19 three-bedroom units. The three buildings will contain 44 units, 64 units, and 82 units, for a total of 190 residential apartments.

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