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Affordable Housing; One Idea for Mendon’s Paddock Property

A representative from CDM Smith presented the Mendon Board of Selectmen with the results of a study concerning possible development ideas for the town-owned property located at 52 Providence St. known as the Paddock property. The findings were presented during a March 6 meeting.

Kimberly Drake of CDM Smith explained the property, which is made up of 75 total acres, was divided into four different areas that were located near or adjacent to the Senior Center, the Highway Department, North/West Muddy Brook, and East of Muddy Brook. The study examined the existing conditions of the land, development constraints, accessibility, and then possible development recommendations for each of the areas using CPA funds.

Drake noted because there's no water or sewer other than what's available for the Highway Department and Senior Center. Expensive permitting could be involved if certain development projects were pursued. In addition because CPA funding was utilized to purchase the Paddock property, usage of the land is limited to recreational, open space, and affordable/senior housing.

Based on CPA requirements, zoning, adjacent land uses and the physical conditions of the land, it was determined the land near the Senior Center could possibly be used for senior/affordable housing or passive recreation. The acreage near the Highway Barn could be utilized for Highway Department-related activities or active or passive recreation. The North/West portion of Muddy Brook could be utilized for senior/affordable housing or active and passive recreation and the East portion of Muddy Brook could be passive recreation.

Affordable Housing Coordinator Bill McHenry was also in attendance and wanted to provide some feedback on affordable housing. "The minute someone says 40B, there's always a reaction; hairs go up," he said. "Seeing this is under the provisions of a 40B, it's a friendly 40B meaning we're in charge of everything that goes on. We set the design standards. We agree on everything as a community before we go forward."

Selectman Rich Schofield explained if the town is not working toward more affordable housing, it could backfire. "If we keep saying no, no, no, we lose control of the 40B process," he stated.

The next phase in moving forward with a possible affordable housing project is to utilize grant funding for a site feasibility study and eventually a request for proposal (RFP). A tentative timeline for such a project would be to bring it forward to voters at a special town meeting this fall.


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