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    Wellesley selectmen want to buy Route 9 land proposed for affordable housing

    Wellesley selectmen say they’re working to acquire three properties along Route 9, including land a builder said he planned to use for a proposed affordable housing development.

    Town officials want to purchase the properties at 818, 822, and 826 Worcester St., which total more than an acre of land and are located between the highway and the athletic fields for the nearby John D. Hardy Elementary School.

    Wellesley selectmen said in a Feb. 21 statement that acquiring the land would help “substantially improve the long-term value of the property,” including offering better access to the fields.


    “Together, the acquisition of these three parcels will offer the Town more flexibility to address traffic, safety and circulation issues associated with the site and create new opportunities for additional municipal uses,” according to the statement.

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    But through his attorney, Needham-based developer Jay J. Derenzo said he already holds a purchase and sale agreement for the properties at 818 and 822 Worcester St. He seeks to build a four-story, 28-unit condominium development on those parcels.

    “Generally, at this time, [Derenzo] does object to the town’s plan, to the taking and depriving of his opportunity to develop the affordable housing project,” attorney Brian Levey told Wellesley selectmen during their Feb. 20 meeting, according to a video recording made by Wellesley Public Media.

    Derenzo’s proposal calls for 22 surface parking spaces, plus a 30-space parking lot at ground floor, according to filings. The housing would be a mix of single-, two-, and three-bedroom units.

    The project, proposed under the state’s Chapter 40B housing law, would include seven affordable units.


    A developer may be allowed to build under the housing law if the number of affordable units in a community makes up less than 10 percent of its total housing stock. About 6.3 percent of Wellesley’s housing stock meets the criteria, according to town data.

    Together, 818 and 822 Worcester St. are assessed at more than $1 million, according to town records.

    If town officials cannot reach an agreement to purchase the two properties, “we may seek the authority from Town Meeting to take 818 and 822 Worcester [St.] by eminent domain,” selectmen said in their statement.

    Once the town secures those parcels, selectmen said, they would also move to buy the neighboring property at 826 Worcester St., which is assessed at $770,000.

    All three properties currently include single-family homes.


    In their statement, Wellesley selectmen made no mention of Derenzo’s affordable housing proposal. But selectmen have raised objections previously to two other developments Derenzo has proposed in Wellesley.

    Selectmen have raised objections previously to two other developments Jay Derenzo has proposed in Wellesley.

    Derenzo wants to build a 36-unit housing development at 16 Stearns Rd., including nine affordable units. And at 680 Worcester St., Derenzo has proposed a 20-unit project with five affordable units.

    Both developments are proposed under Chapter 40B, according to filings. Officials have raised concerns about the Stearns Road and 680 Worcester St. developments, including their proximity to nearby properties, density of each development, and vehicle access.

    John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.