Major Projects at Risk Unless Town Meeting OKs Fix

November 13, 2018

TYNGSBORO -- Two major commercial/residential projects projected to generate close to $19 million in tax revenue for town coffers over a decade hang in the balance if corrective action is not taken at Special Town Meeting Tuesday night.

Town Administrator Matt Hanson said the corrective article, the seventh on the warrant, proposes a zoning bylaw amendment to clarify that permitted projects are not required to have a percentage of affordable units.

The two projects in question are Flints Corner at 150 Westford Road and Tyngsboro Commons at 50 Westford Road.

The first project at Flints Corner includes 96 residential units, a new commercial building, and redevelopment of the existing Flints Corner Plaza. Owners Edward Duffy and his wife, Eileen Duffy, are currently in talks with a few potential developers.

The second, which Trammell Crow Company hopes to build, includes 192 market-rate apartments at Tyngsboro Commons and a commercial retail development.

Each development also has an open space/recreational component.

According to Hanson, the language specifying that those development projects already permitted prior to the bylaw passage last year are exempt from having a certain percentage of affordable housing was not written into the bylaw.

“This puts those projects at risk because of a simple oversight, basically,” Hanson told residents late last week during a presentation on Special Town Meeting.

Terry Flahive, president of Princeton Tyngsboro Commons LLC, which owns the property at 50 Westford Road, said the plan for years has been to build housing there. He said Trammell Crow Company signed a purchase and sales agreement a year ago with Princeton to purchase the property and build 192 market-rate apartment units. But then a lawyer for Trammell Crow saw the new bylaw.

“We’re stuck because you either have a project or you don’t have a project. There is a core of folks in town who don’t want the project. It has nothing to do with the special permit,” Flahive said. “This project was never supposed to be in this situation to begin with. We are. What we have tried to show is the benefit: over the next ten years it will produce $10 million worth of revenue to Tyngsboro through fees.”

According to Hanson, it’s been the town’s long-standing practice and interpretation that projects, once they receive a special permit from the Planning Board, become grandfathered to any future zoning changes.

Hanson said the Flints Corner project is estimated to bring close to $300,000 in permit fees. Tyngsboro received a $2.5 million MassWorks grant last year for infrastructure projects that will make the area around Flints Corner Plaza much safer for the public.

“Over the next ten years, what do these two projects mean? About $16.7-$19 million in revenue coming into the town of Tyngsboro,” Hanson told residents last week.

Flahive said he plans on attending Special Town Meeting and, if the article fails, the only plan then would be to build five industrial buildings since the site has been incredibly difficult to construct on. He said that option would generate very little revenue to the town.

Edward and Eileen Duffy did not return a message seeking comment.

Special Town Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Tyngsboro Elementary School, 205 Westford Rd. There are 16 articles listed on the warrant that is currently available for viewing on the town website.

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