DEVENS -- Devens representatives voiced no major concerns about the proposal for senior housing on MassDevelopment land in the Shirley Village Growth District.

Rick Bernklow, chairman of the Devens Citizens Advisory Committee, told the group Monday night that the plan proposed by MassDevelopment is to build on land within the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone near the Ayer Shirley Middle School.

The plan would require the area to change to residential zoning, as well as an increase to the overall housing cap allowed on Devens. Those changes would require passage at a Super Town Meeting in Ayer, Harvard and Shirley.

Last month, MassDevelopment proposed the zoning change and three others to the Joint Boards of Selectmen that represents those towns.

The board later recommended focusing only on the senior-housing zoning change at an upcoming Super Town Meeting, possibly increasing its likelihood of passage by voters from all three towns.

Bernklow said the plan would open other opportunities on land that is going to end up in Shirley.

"It's across the river, it's isolated. The Shirley municipal buildings, the Shirley Middle School are all on that land over there," he said. "It's going to end up in Shirley no matter what."

The zoning changes should not be something that should worry Devens residents, Bernklow said.

"Maybe something positive will come out of it, and it would be nice," he said.


Meanwhile, progress on the proposed Grant Road development to add 120 more residential units on Devens has not yet moved forward. MassDevelopment began negotiations with Evergreen Village Collaborative for the 35-acre project in November, and has not announced an agreement.

Bernklow believes MassDevelopment is still haggling over details.

"I'm hoping that will be done this fall so at least things can start rolling out next spring," he said.

Bernklow also told the committee that his move from Devens to Stow will be sooner than anticipated, as he sold his house quickly. He suggested the group call for an election within 45 days to replace him.

"I really apologize for leaving you in the lurch, but I will be more than happy to go to a JBOS meeting and help you for a transition there," he said. He said during the transition he could go to a Devens Open Space Committee meeting or work on the subcommittee that JBOS formed to re-write the proposed MassDevelopment zoning changes.

Bernklow's departure would still leave the committee with its quorum of three, but member Van Easton warned that he will start to have to work in the evenings when fall arrives, placing his availability in question.

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