The town may have to delay the sale of the North Elementary School to a local developer after learning that Winchester had rejected a zoning waiver, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci.
"The closing of the North School may be delayed depending on the Winchester vote," Ragucci told the Stoneham Board of Selectmen Tuesday night during their meeting at .
At the May 7 in Stoneham, Article 1 was approved by voters. The article dealt with the transfer of land from the Stoneham School Committee to the Stoneham Board of Selectmen, which also included granting the Selectmen permission to sell the land to Collins Development Inc.
Collins Development plans to renovate the existing historic North School and adaptively reuse it to make 12 one-and-two-bedroom condominium units. The developer also plans to purchase two other lots along Collincote Street at $152,500 each for single-family residential development.
Also on May 7 during the , voters approved a zoning change to allow residential development at the former North School site.
"When you do a zoning change in any town, you've got to notify the other communities of the change and just give them notice we're zoning it, no big deal," Ragucci said after the Selectmen's session. "We had missed a date for notifying the communities so we had to send it out kind of after the fact. To send it out after the fact, the law requires these communities to grant a waiver and if they don't we have to start all over again.
"All the other communities agreed to give the town of Stoneham a waiver except Winchester. Winchester rejected it."
Ragucci said no reason was given by Winchester for the rejection, which he received on Monday. If Winchester doesn't reverse their decision to grant the waiver, Ragucci explained how that could present a problem for Stoneham.
"If the zoning had to restart again, it will be some time before we can sell the property," Ragucci explained. "The developer wishes to start construction of the three house lots out front, which doesn't require a rezoning just the lot in the back does." A rezoning in front isn't required because it is already zoned as residential, noted the town administrator.
"I wanted to make sure the board felt comfortable that if we sell that property out front that we get a larger deposit from the developer and then we can do the rezoning and sit through the winter with the building. That's the problem," Ragucci said, adding that the town is looking to receive a 20 percent deposit from the developer instead of 10 percent. "We'll be extending the closing date regardless of what happens in Winchester."
Ragucci didn't have the closing date immediately available.