Selectmen and newly appointed SERPDD representative Ralph Stefanelli will be working together to try to ameliorate the impact of the newest of Norton’s several Chapter 40 B “affordable” housing projects on the town.
The as yet unnamed development, first aired last summer by Lloyd Geisinger of Thorndike Development and Steve Murphy of Campanelli, is designed for about 230 one- and two-bedroom apartments, and will sit a stone’s throw away from upscale Red Mill Village on East Main Street. As an affordable project under the state’s Chapter 40 B “anti- snob zoning” bylaw, the project’s developers have been seeking a single comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board, a process that allows the designers to overstep certain local zoning bylaws governing everything from setbacks to density. The Zoning Board gave the project the go-ahead in December.
Stefanelli, a veteran of both the Zoning Board and the Planning Board in Norton, volunteered to serve as the town’s SERPDD representative and was unanimously voted into that seat Thursday by selectmen. He told the board he will attend the regional planning commission’s meetings with the intent of gathering information about the various impacts the new development will have on already congested Route 123.
He told the board the development will place a burden on schools, fire and police services, and town infrastructure.
He also emphasized several other 40 B projects have been permitted but have never been built, an issue selectmen have discussed a number of times. State housing laws do not count un-built housing units toward the 10 percent affordable housing recommended by the state for all Massachusetts communities.
“If we had been approved for all the current 40 Bs we would be at 16 to 17 percent,” said Stefanelli. Once a community reaches its 10 percent threshold, applicants for other 40 Bs can be turned away much more easily.
Selectman Robert Kimball reminded the board they only have until Jan. 14 to submit a letter of concerns to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and he ticked off a list of items that need to be addressed.
“The White family home has to be preserved,” he said, referring to one of the oldest intact homesteads in Norton, situated in the front of the property. He also added the necessity of a new traffic study that includes the traffic from the build-out of Red Mill Village, and the yet to be built Turtle Crossing on Newland Street.
Kimball noted the intersection of I-495 should be signalized, sidewalks installed, and water and sewer infrastructure updated. He said, “The town should not have to pay for any of it.”
He was also concerned about the view of the development from Red Mill Village, and said some kind of a buffer should be offered to preserve the vista from the closest Red Mill units.
Traffic in and out of the new project is also a concern – Stefanelli pointed out if every unit has two cars, added to the vehicles from the Red Mill and Turtle Crossing, the impact on Route 123 could be severe, especially during concert and golf season at the TPC course the and Comcast Center.