SELECTMEN RACE Q&A: Fasulo & Eaton Discuss Affordable Housing, Sciarappa Farm

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking Selectman candidates Rob Fasulo and Jonathan Eaton questions each week leading up to the April 28 Town Election.

This week’s questions focus on affordable housing and related topics.  Below are the candidates’ responses, in their own words:

Rob Fasulo

Rob Fasulo

How do you think Wilmington is doing in its affordable housing efforts? 

Today I think Wilmington is doing good with regards to “affordable housing” in general however we do need to do a bit of work in one area. There is a serious lack of affordable senior housing in the town.  Taking a look at Whispering Pines rents I come up with an average of a about 2200 a month. This is too high for seniors living on a fixed budget. We need to find a way to provide housing to seniors that may be living on a single income and I am not opposed to using the parcel of land purchased by the town next to St Dorothys Church to accomplish this task.

How do you balance the need to provide affordable housing for seniors (and young adults) with the community’s desire to not “overdevelop” the town and put a strain on town resources?

At this point here our the over development has already been done so there really is no balance. Our goal to this point needs to be staying above that 10% mark. The only mathematical way is that at least 10% of new construction permits must be classified as affordable. If we continue down the road of less than 10% then we are losing ground (if we have not lost too much already). I agree with several residents that I have spoken to when they say it may be time to take a step back so that we can move forward. We have two approved larger scale developments in the works, lets see if any of those are going to be affordable, I would venture to guess not.

Are you worried Wilmington will become susceptible to large-scale 40B projects after the 2020 census?

If we continue down the road of waiting for the builders to willingly build the town out of being under the threshold then yes I am concerned. The town needs to act sooner than later on an inclusionary bylaw.

Are you worried about the proposed rezoning of the Sciarappa Farm property from R60 to neighborhood mix use? 

Absolutely yes. I see the rezoning of this land as the beginning of bankrupting our community. I have been beating the drum on this proposal since I announced my candidacy. Our schools cannot handle the influx of students from what is already approved (and yet built) in other areas of town then to throw large scale condos on this property will devastate the schools, not to mention the strain put on other town departments.

Do you support an inclusionary zoning bylaw?

Yes, and I dont believe waiting until next year is in the best interest of the taxpayers. I have heard the sitting BOS several times request that the planning director sit down with the development community to craft this bylaw. My question to the taxpayers is, when was the last time the town sat down with you before enacting a bylaw? There are several towns with I.B’s in our vicinity that the Wilmington can use as a template to craft one that works for us.

Jonathan Eaton Board of Selectmen

Jonathan Eaton

How do you think Wilmington is doing in its affordable housing efforts? 

The discussion of affordable housing in Wilmington seems to frequently be derailed by the question of whether “affordable housing,” as that phrase is defined by the state, is truly “affordable,” as defined by the economic expectation of the cost of housing.  While there is likely no exact reconciliation of those two definitions, it is not acceptable to let that end the conversation.  We have town-owned land that could be used for affordable housing, particularly the 7.86 acres next to St. Dorothy’s, and the old Whitfield School site.  We need to make progress towards placing either of those properties for sale or available for a long-term lease for the purpose of affordable senior housing, limited in scale so as to not drain town resources or disrupt our suburban community.

How do you balance the need to provide affordable housing for seniors (and young adults) with the community’s desire to not “overdevelop” the town and put a strain on town resources? 

The key to balancing the interests of providing affordable housing while at the same time protecting the community from overdevelopment is both the scale of any new affordable housing, and the consistency in style of affordable housing with the existing residential neighborhoods.  It would certainly not be consistent with the desires of the community to have a large-scale development with hundreds of units next to St. Dorothy’s, on the Whitfield School site, or on Sciarappa Farm.  However, a smaller option may both provide realistic affordable housing options while minimizing the effect on town resources and not disrupting our small, suburban community.

Are you worried Wilmington will become susceptible to large-scale 40B projects after the 2020 census? 

The expectation is that our affordable housing inventory will be below 10% for the 2020 census, meaning that a 40B development is a realistic possibility.  These developments do not have to comply with zoning restrictions, meaning that conceivably a developer could build an apartment building that is larger and more imposing than our already-existing developments.  All the more reason to prioritize affordable housing to preserve the suburban characteristics of Wilmington.

Are you worried about the proposed rezoning of the Sciarappa Farm property from R60 to neighborhood mixed use? 

Yes.  I am opposed to the proposed rezoning of Sciarappa Farm.  The proposed change is far too drastic of a change for one of the few remaining rural areas in town.

The neighborhood mixed use district was intended for areas in town with existing commercial and mixed use activity.  The Sciarappa Farm location would be an inappropriate expansion of a zoning district never intended to stray from the Route 38/129 corridor.  The development that could result from rezoning that tract of land to neighborhood mixed use would disrupt the nearby neighborhoods, and put a strain on our school system, police and fire departments.  Andover Street is one of the most beautiful areas in town.  Let’s keep it that way.

Do you support an inclusionary zoning bylaw?

I support the recent overtures by the town to invite feedback on an inclusionary zoning bylaw, with the goal of placing an article on the warrant for the 2019 town meeting.  An inclusionary zoning bylaw does not by itself cure our affordable housing shortage, but it can be a part of the solution.  Inviting feedback, at the very least, presents the opportunity for a collaborative solution not just to an inclusionary zoning bylaw, but for a broader solution to responsibly increasing our affordable housing inventory.

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2 thoughts

  1. One of the issues that has created our problem in maintaining the 10% minimum affordability housing inventory is the constant rezoning of parcels from R-60 to R-20 or even to R-10. The only reason to rezone is to build. In most of these cases the rezoning has created an extra single build-able lot. It is impossible to take 10% of a single home and apply it to the affordable inventory. We need to stop all this rezoning for short term gain and look long term.

    1. I totally agree with your comments. I believe if a resident purchases a property there is no need to rezone a residential property and disrupt the neighborhood. Residential housing should not be an investment in return via rezoning leading to sub-division of a beautiful lot which persists in perpetuity. It does not contribute to the quality of the town and only benefits the individual property owner.

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