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Spurned Milton developer returns with 40B plan

Seven months after his plan to build three homes on a 15-acre lot in Milton was denied, Todd Hamilton unveiled a plan to build 77 town houses on the same property, this time under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable-housing law.

Hamilton, a Milton developer who ran unsuccessfully for the Planning Board in April, told selectmen at their meeting Wednesday that he will seek 40B status for the development on Hillside Street.

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It replaces a plan that was opposed last year by the Planning Board and neighbors, who said it would disrupt the area’s rural character. The board voted, 2 to 2, on that proposal, which prevented it from going through.

“I’m pretty much done with that,” Hamilton said of listening to neighborhood objections. “I’ve tried everything, but their attitude is, ‘Pay the tax, don’t use your land for anything.’ That’s all I’m hearing from the neighbors.”

Taking the Chapter 40B route would make it much tougher to block the town-house proposal. In communities such as Milton, where less than 10 percent of the housing is classified as affordable, the 40B law gives developers broad exemptions from local zoning ordinances if they set aside a certain percentage of the units at below-market rates.

Under Hamilton’s latest proposal, 25 percent of the two- and three-bedroom town houses would be affordable to those who make 80 percent of the median income in the area. The remaining homes would be sold at market rates, he told selectmen.

“I think the town is lacking some nice town houses,” Hamilton said.

‘I’ve tried everything, but their attitude is “pay the tax, don’t use your land for anything.” ’

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Under Chapter 40B, Hamilton must wait one year and 20 days after the denial of the original application was issued, which occurred on Jan. 15.

He said he plans to seek 40B status next Feb. 5, and would join another 40B proposal, the Milton Mews development of 276 units on Brush Hill Road.

Shortly after the denial was issued, Hamilton said that Planning Board chairman Alexander Whiteside, a Hillside Street resident, had abused his position to block development near his home.

Whiteside had sent Hamilton’s lawyer an e-mail outlining changes that Hamilton could make to get the development approved. Hamilton said he believed Whiteside was making demands; Whiteside said he was simply suggesting ways to resolve the dispute.

Whiteside went on to defeat Hamilton in the April election with 60 percent of the vote.

On Thursday, Whiteside said he thought the earlier dispute is related to the new proposal.

“The project appears to be a punishment to the neighborhood for the fact that his original development was denied,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside said he had been advised not to speak on the project in his role of Planning Board chairman, but was speaking as a member of the neighborhood. The town houses would be inappropriate in the single-family home neighborhood, he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Selectwoman Katie Conlon asked Hamilton if he could be persuaded to return to his original plan. Hamilton said no.

“I’m done. I spent too many years on that,” he said. “I’ve never been through so much fight for three house lots that were four acres apiece.”

“The Planning Board fueled the fight is what they did,” Hamilton said.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at eisen.globe@gmail.com.
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