September 17 2019

Nordblom Co. Outlines Zoning Change for More Housing Units at 3rd Ave. Project

By: Tad Stephanak

The Nordblom Company is set to propose a Planned Development District zoning amendment for Northwest Park at the upcoming Town Meeting.

Nordblom’s Senior Vice President of Development and Director of Mixed-Use Projects Todd Fremont-Smith was recently before the Board of Selectmen, represented by Attorney Bob Buckley of the firm Riemer & Braunstein.

The proposal for Town Meeting to consider is for two more housing buildings in Northwest Park. Nordblom consulted with Council on Aging Director Marge McDonald on a senior housing aspect, and is looking at creating a component to the project for Burlington’s over-60, empty nester population. Attorney Buckley spoke about the growing Baby Boomer population looking to downsize.   

“I think it’s socially wrong if someone decides to sell their house and can’t afford to stay in their community,” he remarked. 

The plan calls for senior housing in a private, long term partnership with the town in which 60+ residents can get an affordable rate. In discussing the affordable housing aspect of the proposal, Fremont-Smith noted the increase in percentage the project is set to provide.  

“Our base zoning is 10 percent affordable,” he said. “We came to the town increasing it to 13 percent and the Planning Board has since argued us up to 14 percent.”


Freemont-Smith noted the discounted senior units would average about $1400 a month for those who qualify. 


“We know the market is there, we know the demand is there,” Freemont-Smith said.  


After looking at the plan, Selectmen Jim Tigges asked about the exact location of the proposed buildings.

“Unless I’m missing it, where would these buildings be located?” he asked.

Attorney Buckley replied that that is to be determined and Freemont-Smith noted that is something they will need to work with the Planning Board on. 

With the property full, Freemont-Smith told the board that some of the existing buildings are old and may be brought down to make room for the new housing.

“We like the sites in and around 3rd Ave.,” he said. “The sites that are walkable to 3rd Ave.”

Selectmen Mike Runyan pointed out this is a zoning article situation and that Board of Selectmen generally doesn’t involve itself in zoning issues.

To that Buckley replied, “we try and be transparent.”

Buckley went on to say they’re looking to the Selectmen to develop perimeters, guidelines and qualifications for the proposal. 

Town Assessor Jim Doherty cited the uniqueness of the proposal as it tries to address residents of the community and improve the affordable housing in Burlington.


“I think they’re going to come out with a better project,” he said. “I think the town is going to come out with a better project.” 


The Board of Selectmen are holding off on a vote until their September 23 meeting prior to Town Meeting that night.


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