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This Saturday, May 1, is the Town Meeting. There are many important articles to be considered. One of the last is not the least. It’s Article 44 “Easement for Affordable Senior Apartments on Ayer Road” inserted by the Conservation Commission. A two-thirds “Yes” vote will allow this project to proceed. It will cost the town nothing, preserves the conservation land that is the subject of the easement, and has no impact on that land. It seems like a no-brainer.

The project will create 42 rental units of senior housing, all of which are counted as affordable. When completed, it will give the town at least two years of protection from “unfriendly” Chapter 40B projects. The ZBA will not have to consider any applications for new 40B projects during this period.

The development has received “high marks” from many town residents and the state. A sign of Town support is the fact that the project has received a $200,000 grant from Harvard’s Municipal Affordable Housing Trust fund. The Planning Board supports it. The Conservation Commission voted unanimously to support it. Furthermore, the project has been awarded Low Income Tax Credits and other state funding.

Why is the easement needed? The State’s Department of Environmental Protection requires that the nitrogen loading of the land from the project’s wastewater be limited. The amount estimated to come from the project will exceed that limit. The resolution is for the Town to grant the nitrogen loading restriction and easement on the adjacent Ayer Road Meadow conservation land to act as “credit land”.

The only requirement is that the farmer who is renting the land from the Conservation Commission will have to change to a crop that doesn’t use nitrogen fertilizer. He has agreed to do so.

Please consider staying to vote for this article. It would be a devastating loss to the town if this senior housing project comes to a halt because only those who may want to see it fail are the ones who remain for the vote. Don’t let that happen.



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