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Multi-family project on Groton Road stymied by new regs

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SHIRLEY — Planning Board members met with Ross Associates to discuss plans for a multi-family project located at 58 Groton Road. The meeting was initiated by the engineering firm due to a change in zoning, which passed at the special town meeting (STM) held last November.

The by-law change prevents Ross Associates from building two adjacent eight-family units on just over nine acres of land at the Groton Road location.

Jesse Johnson, a representative of Ross Associates, presented the plans to board members last week. According to Johnson, Ross Associates began working on the project in April 2005, and completed perk testing by June.

“We’ve been working on this through the summer,” Johnson said, asking the Planning Board for its recommendation concerning the project.

Johnson told board members that until the change in zoning was passed, the project did not require any variances.

“You need a variance now,” Greeno said, referring Ross Associates to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Planning Board Chairman Charles Colburn said his initial reaction is that the area is too dense to make a recommendation for an appeal.

“I’m really sorry you weren’t paying attention to the mood of the town,” Colburn told Johnson.

“I feel bad for him,” Greeno said. “He’s been working on [the project] for a while. I’m kind of up in the air whether it’s too dense or not.”

Prior to the change, Johnson said, Ross Associates felt that there was minimal impact on the area. He said the only other option under the current zoning is to build a duplex that looks like a single-family home.

Colburn said the Planning Board would review the plans again after they are submitted to the ZBA, and will determine a recommendation at that time.

Orchard Estates

Jim Borrebach of GFI Shirley, LLC, gave members the monthly update on Orchard Estates, located off Lancaster Road. A monthly soil report was submitted, Borrebach said.

Two hot spots at the site had to undergo two rounds of excavation, according to Borrebach. Canadian officials have approved receipt of the soil.

GFI will be contacting the Board of Health to discuss significant changes in the handling of frozen soil, Borrebach said, as the focus turns to building soil containment units at Parcel K.

“We will only place nonfrozen impacted soil in its final configuration,” Borrebach said, explaining that strip tests to determine soil compaction will be done to ensure stable conditions for property owners.

“We don’t want to have any issues down the road anymore than anyone else,” Borrebach said.

Smart Growth Districts

Planning Board member John Rounds gave members a summary of MassDevelopment’s Chapter 40R proposals to create overlay districts, or “smart growth districts” to allow for significantly higher density housing in the Village Growth District.

Rounds gave an overview of the incentives offered under the Chapter 40R and 40S programs, which are:

* An initial zoning incentive payment of approximately $1,000 per additional housing unit allowed; municipalities may be required to pay this money back if construction has not begun within three years.

* A one time density bonus payment of $3,000 for each housing unit of new construction that is created under Chapter 40R, to be paid on issuance of a building permit.

* Under Chapter 40S, subject to appropriation, a smart growth school cost reimbursement can be issued, but only after reporting requirements have been met.

According to Sue Snyder, administrative assistant, Shirley cannot receive grants for professional assistance to review the plans and advise the town.

“Nobody is on our side reviewing everything,” she said.

Rounds suggested that Shirley needs a disconnected, unassociated view of the proposal.

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