Proposed Groton subdivision under fire

Village at Shepley Hill could impact drumlin hill and wetlands

Renderings of townhouses for the proposed Village at Shepley Hill residential development in Groton
Renderings of townhouses for the proposed Village at Shepley Hill residential development in Groton
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

GROTON – A proposed new subdivision is coming under fire for environmental concerns, however, its developer noted the Village at Shepley Hill is still in its planning stages and local review is not complete.

Shepley Hill Capital Partners is proposing the construction of a 14-lot, 28-unit residential development called Village at Shepley Hill.

Set to be located off the intersection of Longley Road and Sand Hill Road, the senior housing development would be connected by two roadways and a single shared septic system.

Each of the 14 lots on the property will have a two-unit townhouse, with each unit having two bedrooms, a two-car garage, a master suite on the first floor and a full basement.

Of the 45 acres on the property, developers hope to use 38 acres of it as open space for walking trails. Because of the units, the developer is also looking to extend Groton’s 12-inch water main along Longley Road for 4,800 feet.

While new housing could be beneficial to Groton, local officials said, there are also environmental impacts to consider.

In a letter to the editor submitted to the Nashoba Valley Voice earlier this month, local resident Bob Pine stressed “deep concerns” about how the project will impact the surrounding environment.

Pine claims that most of the development would take place on a drumlin hill, which is a large mound of ground placed and sculpted by a glacier.

If the development is established,  Pine believes it would “obliterate” the drumlin with “large roadway cuts and fills” along with “artificially shaped protrusions” for the townhouses.

“The proposal requires three wetland crossings and cuts and fills far greater than the regulations allow,” Pine added in a follow-up email on Tuesday. “The only way the developer could use the property would be to significantly reduce the number of units that are being proposed.”

Other town boards have stressed issues with the layout project. Conservation Commission Administrator Nikolis Gualco said the Groton Conservation Commission noted concerns about how the project will impact not only the wetlands and drumlins, but also the overall forest in the area of Longley Road and Sand Rill Road.

The Planning Board also discussed the project during a public hearing on Jan. 14, with multiple members worried about its impact to the land. One of them was Scott Wilson, who called the proposed development a “serious degradation of a beautiful property.”

“I am not seeing an argument that puts the imperative for making all of these extreme engineering cuts-and-fills and carving up this property to put in a road system and x-number of units,” Wilson said at the hearing. “I just don’t see the imperative to do that that outweighs the importance of preserving the ecosystem of this land. I just don’t see that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Larry Smith, managing director for Shepley Hill Capital Partners, said the officials on the project are still in the process of designing the development and won’t know the exact look of Village at Shepley Hill until the design is finalized.

So far, the design is similar to another residential development the partners designed in Gloucester. Smith still noted that the partners are unsure of when the design will be completed.

“We believe Groton is a great community and in the over-55 demographic, there’s a need for more senior housing,” Smith said. “The development is not that impactful and provides multiple benefits to the town, including $300,000 in tax revenue and a contribution to the affordable housing trust. This is designed for people to age in place.”

The proposal is set to go back in front of the Conservation Commission on Jan. 26 and the Planning Board on Jan. 28.