WILMINGTON, MA — At Wilmington’s Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 9am on the WHS Softball Field off of Wildwood Street, voters are being asked to rezone 100 and 102 West Street from “General Business” and “General Industrial” to “Neighborhood Mixed Use.”
Derek Santini — of SF Development Corporation – is the proponent of this measure (Article 64). He purchased the land, located near the 93 interchange, at the intersection of Lowell Street and West Street, in February 2019 for $2.425 million. Santini also owns the Mobil on the Run gas station across the street from the site.
At this week’s Planning Board and Finance Committee Public Hearing on the Town Meeting warrant articles, Santini’s attorney — Robert Peterson Sr. — discussed the preliminary plans for the site — a 50-unit apartment complex and two restaurants.
“This rezoning accomplishes two important things,” explained Peterson. “It’s eliminates any type of automotive use on the premises, including a car dealership, car washes, and automotive service stations. A change to Neighborhood Mixed Use would also allow a residential component to be constructed on the site.”
Peterson noted that he and Santini invited all of the site’s abutters to a meeting in February to discuss the proposal. According to Peterson, everyone who attended had no objection to the multi-use of the site.
“Almost to a person, every neighbor who attended was in favor of the restaurant uses. And there was no objection at all to the residential use,” said Peterson.
“This proposal will allow to a responsible development of this parcel, with significantly less traffic than prior proposed uses and permitted uses,” continued Peterson. “This proposal would be a responsible and beneficial development of the parcel to the neighborhood and the area in general.”
In 2017, Global Montello Group announced its intentions to build a 4,800 square foot, 24/7 gas station with 10 pumps and a “fresh market” deli-style restaurant with 20 indoor seats and 32 outdoor seats. A 3,000 square foot building would have subsequently been built behind the gas station, possibly a bank, small pharmacy or sit-down restaurant. Global would eventually abandon the project.
In response to a question from Selectman Mike McCoy, Planning Director Valerie Gingrich and Town Counsel Mark Rich did not feel this rezoning would constitute “spot zoning.” McCoy said he would support the proposal since the neighbors were also in support.
In response to a question from Selectman Kevin Caira, Gingrich clarified that 15% of the apartment units — 8 of the 50 units — would need to be affordable units according the town’s zoning bylaw for neighborhood mixed use zones. Peterson noted the remainder would be market rate.
In response to a question from Finance Committee Chair John Doherty, Peterson said there would not be any additional development of the site in the future due to wetlands that abut the property.
Planning Board Committee Chair Mike Sorrentino asked that the Town Manager monitor how the increase in new housing developments — 108 units proposed for Jefferson Road in North Wilmington, 57 units at the corner of Lowell Street and Woburn Street, 36 townhouses across the street from that proposal on Lowell Street, and 49 condos/townhouses on Main Street near Butters Row — will impact the student enrollment in Wilmington’s public schools. Hull noted that the Princeton Properties proposal on Jefferson Road is not likely to impact enrollment much due the price point and number of 1-bedroom units. Gingrich noted that school enrollments in the area are actually in decline.
Finance Committee member Marianne Gallezzo expressed concerns about the strain these new developments are putting on fire and police.
Ultimately, the Planning Board voted unanimously to support Article 64 on Tuesday night. The Finance Committee will make its recommendation at its meeting on Thursday night.
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