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GROTON — As 2007 draws to a close, members of the Board of Selectmen were briefed on progress being made on an affordable housing project that is a shadow of its former self.

The discussion at the Dec. 17 meeting centered on the Pine Ridge Estates subdivision, to be located along Jenkins Road.

Meeting with Douglas Deschenes, attorney for developer Robert M. Hicks Inc., selectmen learned that although the housing project was still moving forward, there would be fewer living units than originally planned.

According to Deschenes, a ruling by the state’s Natural Heritage watchdog group has prevented his client from building on as much as half the Jenkins Road property, forcing a severe reduction in the number of living units that can be constructed on the site.

“We still think this could be an excellent project,” Deschenes offered.

The attorney told the board that the number of living units had been reduced from 20 to just 14, parceled out in seven duplex buildings.

One element of the project critical to the town is the number of living units reserved as affordable units. In an agreement made with the town some months ago, the developer promised to convert an existing home at the site into a group home, whose five bedrooms would each count as an affordable unit. That plan was put in jeopardy when the state Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) judged that the existing home would not reach the level of accessibility it required.

But in a partnership with the Corporation for Independent Living, a nonprofit organization specializing in the construction of group homes, an application for an amendment to Hick’s agreement with the town was being sought, Deschenes said. The change would allow for the demolition of the existing home and construction in its place of a new building that would meet DMR standards.

If all goes well, Deschenes said, the project could yield the town as many as seven affordable units (including two among the 14 remaining duplex units) depending upon whether the new group home ends up with four or five bedrooms.

Although Pine Ridge Estates is not being built under the state 40B regulations, Deschenes said, the severe reduction in the number of living units that could be built would result in little profit for his client.