Plans for the Chapter 40 B multiple housing project known as Turtle Crossing have resurfaced after four years on the back burner, recast into what the new developer says is a design with less environmental impact and a more efficient layout.
Turtle Crossing’s first developer was Nick Mirrione, and the project was permitted by the zoning board under the state’s Comprehensive Permit regulations in 2008.
New developers Roberto Arista and Marc Daigle of Dakota Partners told selectmen the complex will still offer the original 176 units, but will cut the number of bedrooms by 56, because 56 of the units will be changed from two-bedroom to one-bedroom apartments.
While the original plans called for multiple two-story buildings that “meandered throughout the land,” according to Arista, the new design will reduce the “massing” of the project by creating seven three-story buildings. None of the buildings are now at the back of the property where the land is in the watershed area for the Canoe River.
Four of the buildings will be arranged around a green “quad” he said, and the new layout also features a clubhouse, a playground, and a pool.
Selectman Bob Kimball said although he was very pleased the project had come back with a redesign, he wanted developers to try to add to the 66 units that will be marketed as “affordable.”
“We had 88 – now there are 66,” Kimball said, adding he was glad the number of two-bedroom units had been reduced.
The town benefits from the addition of affordable units to the housing stock, allowing the zoning board more leverage to resist additional controversial 40B project once the count reaches the state-recommended level of ten percent affordable housing.
The Chapter 40B regulations allow developers to bypass certain local zoning laws pertaining to density, setbacks, road dimensions, and some planning regulations, as long as a portion of the units are designated as affordable. The rents that fall under the term “affordable” vary by town and district. Norton has had its share of comprehensive permit projects, and nearly all have been greeted with some resistance from townspeople and permitting boards.
The developers told selectmen five percent of the units, about nine, will be handicapped accessible. There will also be eight covered garages, with space for nine vehicles in each.
“I’m very impressed with this compared with the other plan,” said chairman Brad Bramwell. He noted the facades of the buildings are designed to make the appearance of the building look a lot like nearby Red Mill Village.
“We are trying to give it a village style by breaking down the facade to make one large building look like several,” said Arista.
Arista and Daigle said the back land will remain untouched for now, with possible public access to the river in the future, but did not rule out the eventual construction of a solar “farm” or other green power installation. No building will occur on that part of the property, they said.
The developers have already appeared before the zoning board, and will be back on Monday, April 30 for a second round. They have also met with public safety, water and sewer department personnel.
The board overall was pleased with the project, but declined to offer an official opinion, preferring to wait until the ZBA has finished their deliberations and rendered a decision.