The Melone property is a 46 acre parcel located on Route 117, North Road, of which 16 acres of the property are located in the Town of Concord. The Town purchased this property in 1992 and has operated a gravel operation on the parcel since the 1990s. Estimates from the Department of Public Works indicate that nearly all the gravel has been removed from the parcel.
The Selectmen have been interested in planning for the future of this parcel for several years as gravel operations have wound down. This is the largest remaining, buildable town-owned property and it has considerable development potential. The land offers capacity to construct new playing fields, potential trail connections to both Sudbury and Concord conservation lands, and has suitable soils for residential housing. In 2005, the Board of Selectmen indicated through a vote that their intent was for the Melone land to be used for either mixed affordable housing and recreational purposes or individual affordable housing and recreational projects.
In 2007, the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership chose the Sudbury Melone Gravel Pit to explore the issue of housing affordability. This project utilized the skills of UMass planning students to produce conceptual residential site designs on the Melone parcel that aimed to increase density without regard to physical constraints of the property. The resulting designs, while interesting and with merit, did not provide possible scenarios for this property. You can find the study here.
The Budget Review Task Force, in their final December 2008 report, encouraged the highest and best uses of designated land in town, including the Melone property, in a manner sensitive to Sudbury character and the interests of its residents, promoting high margin developments that will increase property tax revenues without increasing taxpayer burdens. In an attempt to define conceptual options to reach that objective, the Melone Feasibility Study was completed in 2011 by Goldsmith, Prest and Ringwell, Inc. Supported by Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding, the feasibility study looked to evaluate the parcel for three potential uses; a multipurpose recreational facility, a community multi-family housing development, and open space usage. The final concept plans (six were developed) show examples of a mixed-use recreation and housing design. The first three were designed to achieve maximum density residential which was not recommended due to sewage treatment costs. Alternatively the last three show reduced residential and increased athletic field use. Passive recreation was not recommended due to the highly disturbed nature of the site. You can find the Feasibility Study here.
Following the feasibility study, the Board of Selectmen commissioned Larry Koff and Associates to investigate the market for a range of private redevelopment alternatives and estimated sales value to the town at that point in time. The analysis recommends multiple options for disposition, with multifamily rental ranking the highest and most economically attractive for private development. You can find the Land Value Analysis here.
With the decision by the Board of Selectmen to include the achievement of 10% affordable housing as a goal for FY15, continued planning of this property must continue as it is the largest undeveloped town–owned parcel of land which is suitable for housing.
CPA funding was approved at 2014 Annual Town Meeting for a master plan for development of rental housing on this property which will count towards the Town’s 10% affordable housing goal, as well as complementary and/or accessory open space and recreation uses. The article can be found here and presentation that was given can be found here. The draft timeline of actions proposed for a redevelopment master plan can be found here.
Since 2014 Annual Town Meeting, the strategy for reaching the 10% state requirement has been reevaluated as the Town has been notified that the Raytheon site on Boston Post Road will be sold to a private developer. In light of this, the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board released a joint letter stating that among other things, the Raytheon site is well suited for housing that can help the Town reach it’s 10%. The joint letter can be found here.
With the Town now waiting in anticipation of proposals for the Raytheon site development, the Melone master planning for development of rental housing has been suspended. The Board of Selectmen will revisit preparing a development plan for the Melone Gravel Pit once a clear understanding of what can be accomplished at the Raytheon location is known.