WOBURN - An abutter to the Woburn Armory questioned the need for a zoning change during the City Council’s meeting this week on a proposal that could lead to a mixed use residential and office development at the 1-acre parcel on Main Street, just south of Woburn Center.
“I want to make sure everything is good for the neighborhood,” said Caulfield Road resident Mark Sanborn. “I don’t want all of a sudden two years from now he (developer) ends up with a CVS.”
The council eventually continued the public hearing until its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Armory owner Joseph D’Ovidio is seeking to re-zone the entire armory site as a Business Downtown (BD) district, eliminating the residential (R-2) classification that currently exists for a portion of the property.
D’Ovidio is also seeking a waiver from the city’s affordable housing requirement. The city mandates 10 percent of the units of most congregate residential developments to be set aside for low/moderate income tenants, but D’Ovidio wants a waiver due to the considerable cost of rehabilitating the dilapidated armory, redevelopment of which is under further complications since it has been designated as a historical site.
Representing D’Ovidio, local attorney Joseph Tarby said he presented a draft of a proposed restrictive covenant that would protect the historical integrity of the building to D’Ovidio, who has not yet gotten back to him with his comments.
“He just didn’t have time over the holidays,” said Tarby. “As soon as I get it back from the client, I can get it out to (the council).”
Sanborn, who was the only person from the audience to speak during the public hearing, said the current proposal is similar to a previous site plan withdrawn several years ago, with fewer - albeit larger - dwelling units.
“All he did was take 29 units and make them 14 units,” said Sanborn. “Why does he need the zoning change (when) the front part is going to contain business and back part is going to contain residential?”
Sanborn said he would prefer to not see the entire parcel be zoned for a business use.
“I don’t trust this guy as far as I could throw that building,” he said.
The only other major point of discussion by the council was the need for an extension of a demolition order for the armory that was stayed until this month while the council and the developer negotiate the current proposal.
City Clerk William Campbell said he would confer with City Solicitor Ellen Callahan Doucette about the extension.