Weymouth Town Council plans to continue ongoing discussions with Starwood, the developer of Southfield, in hopes to mutually solve concerns with the proposed legislation.
One of the main overall concerns pertains to commercial land development in the town of Weymouth. Town Council Vice President Michael Smart spoke to this.
“We want to make sure that 2 million square feet is in Weymouth,” Smart said, “This only works if we get all of the tax revenue generated from 2 million square feet of commercial property based on our current commercial tax rate.”
In the current and proposed legislation, Starwood can build a minimum of 900,000 square feet of commercial development, and a maximum of 2 million.
Matthew Barry, Starwood Vice President, responded to the concern. “We will go back and review our notes internally,” he said, “[We will] make sure that we understood what the request was and see if we can propose something back.”
Barry added that he does not think there is sufficient existing land for commercial development in Rockland or Abington, but Weymouth is still hesitant without some kind of agreement.
“It’s important that we have some type of agreement that states ‘we, the developer, will build 2 million square feet in Weymouth’,” Smart said.
Councilor Arthur Matthews pointed out another important piece of developing the maximum of commercial property in Weymouth. He acknowledged that the Host Community payments, totaling approximately $9 million currently left to be paid to the town, is under the assumption of the full 2 million square foot build-out. Starwood did not have an exact number for what the payment would be at minimum build-out.
Councilor Robert Conlon said he would like to see some kind of business plan from Starwood. He does not like their “whatever the market determines” approach to commercial development.
Other collective concerns with the legislation include areas that discuss recreation, the reuse plan, and taxes.
All of these concerns were addressed at the Council’s meeting Monday night. Barry and other representatives from Starwood put together a presentation addressing specific legislation concerns the Council had expressed at prior meetings.
Several of the Councilors felt that Starwood’s change in the recreation portion of the legislation was still too vague. Councilor Kenneth DiFazio felt it was “totally insufficient.” Matthews added that the recreation is such an important issue and there needs to be more specific language from the current reuse plan.
DiFazio also advised Starwood not to refer to the reuse plan in their legislation, because there is language that says it will be terminated. He suggested they draft a new reuse plan.
Barry did add the detail that any athletic fields would be developed by a 3rd party and the towns would be charged a fee to use the fields.
Starwood will be presenting answers to 62 questions posed by DiFazio at the Council’s next meeting on February 3rd, as well as answering any other questions that may come up.
The Council will also hold a special meeting on February 10th in which Starwood, the two Weymouth representatives from the South Shore Tri-Town Board of Directors and their staff (the CEO and CFO), will all be invited.
Smart brought up the importance of including the “what if” scenario in future discussions.
“If nothing gets done, how long will Tri-Town last at the current tax revenue generation, if there’s no commercial, if the master developer goes away?” Smart asked. “There’s a number of those things.”
The Council will be sending several letters to Mayor Sue Kay requesting funds for Bond Council to look at an infrastructure bond for debt service that Starwood is asking the town to pay a percentage of. They are also seeking funds to hire consultants, analysts, or experts to assist in the process going forward.