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Busa Farms as a Mixed-Use Development?

As housing plans progress, LexFarm pushes for integrated development of the Busa Land.

The same night LexHAB shared its plans to plan out eight units of housing along Lowell Street on the “Arlington side” of the Busa Land, LexFarm urged the Board of Selectmen to consider integrated/mixed uses for any housing structures.

Addressing the selectmen Monday night, LexHAB’s Bill Hays said he was , on the “Arlington side” of the at the Busa Farms property.

“We have no produce to deliver,” said Hays. “We’re merely here to tell you what the development of the proposal might entail, what the time for that might be and how we’ll handle the cost.”

According to Hays, a presentation on a possible development could be ready for the selectmen’s consideration in about two months and the associated engineering and legal costs could be about $20,000.

Before Hays spoke, LexFarm President Janet Kern addressed the selectmen and expressed disappoint with the selectmen’s apparent reluctance to consider integrated housing  “despite repeated recommendations or requests for collaboration” by the Community Farm Coalition.

“We implore the Board of Selectmen to suspend its decision on housing first and consider integrated/mixed use concepts,” said Kern.

That could mean coupling apartments with a farmstand or any number of other integrated or mixed uses for , Kern said after the meeting, adding that she considered the update from LexHAB another opportunity for collaboration.

In its report, the seven-member Busa Land Use Proposal Committee is unanimous in its support of the "continued use of farming on some or all of the Busa Land," while the majority of members also support some affordable housing. (To read the full report, click here.)

Though the selectmen have asked LexHAB to look into housing with frontage on Lowell Street, four of the five remain open to elsewhere on the eight-acre parcel, which the town purchased in 2009 for more than $4 million.

Hays said LexHAB’s objectives in the near term include things like surveying utilities available to the Lowell Street site; identifying possible draining issues; ascertaining whether they would be able to set some of the units at LexHAB’s rental provisions and looking at differential development costs if not all units are along lower Lowell Street.

That last point is something Selectmen Peter Kelley would like to see done as soon as possible.

“To me, I think it would be very helpful if we knew sooner rather than later if there was a reasonable likelihood that one would consider citing units on the western area,” Kelley said, adding the board’s preference is for Lowell Street frontage. “If we’re going to consider something other than that, I’d like to determine that it’s financially reasonable to do that before it’s too late to do so.”

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