ASK ACTON FORUM: Proposed new daycare center on Main Street

Question from an ActonForum reader about the proposed new daycare center :

Hi, We've been in and out of town lately, and missed the upshot of the debate over the new daycare center at 27 & rt. 2. There was nothing in the Beacon about any approval and the debate seemed to have just rolled over and died.

Can you fill us in? Thanks.

ActonForum reply :

A developer purchased three adjacent lots on RT 27 (348, 350 and 352 Main St) and applied for a building permit for a 24,000 square foot daycare center -- larger than the new Public Safety Building / Police Station which is on the other side, just North of this location. These three lots are on the West side of RT 27 immediately next to the bridge across RT 2. The area is zoned residential but there is a state law (MGL Ch 40A Section 3), popularly known as the "Dover Amendment" that overrides local zoning for "educational" uses. This is similar to the state law that overrides local zoning for projects that (supposedly) offer "affordable housing", the so-called "Chapter 40B".

Because the proposed facility did not comply with Acton's zoning, the town building department denied the application for a building permit. The developer then petitioned for a review by the Acton Board of Appeals (BoA), citing the "Dover Amendment". A large number of Acton residents came to several Board of Appeals meetings to urge this board to uphold the building permit denial. After considerable deliberation guided by Town Counsel, the BoA denied the developer's petition, upholding the building department's decision.

Subsequently, the lots have been cleared in what appears to be the first step towards some sort of construction. A group of Acton residents informally questioned the selectmen about it after a BoS meeting a few weeks ago; the selectmen said that they could not respond "because the matter is in litigation". That probably means that the developer is challenging the BoA decision, but we do not know what his plans are if his challenge is successful.

Does anyone have more information ? If you do, please add it to this blog.