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Warren: Settlers’ Green will tax sewer system

Officials want more information from affordable housing developer

By Ted Hayes
Posted 8/5/20

Town officials don’t have enough information on the impact the large Settlers’ Green housing project will have on Warren’s infrastructure and quality of life, and want more details …

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Warren: Settlers’ Green will tax sewer system

Officials want more information from affordable housing developer

Posted

Town officials don’t have enough information on the impact the large Settlers’ Green housing project will have on Warren’s infrastructure and quality of life, and want more details from the developer before they continue with review of the Kinnicutt Avenue plan.

At a meeting last Thursday, the town’s Preliminary Review Committee went over the Last Ever Realty LLC’s proposal, which would see 12 homes and two large apartment buildings, each housing 54 units, just south of Frerichs Farm. It became clear early on that Last Ever principals did not include much of the information town officials deem essential - hydrology reports, environmental information, soil erosion and sediment analyses, landscaping information and other explanatory information. Members of the committee, made up of representatives from the planning board, municipal government, conservation commission, town engineers, the BCWA and other groups, said they’ll need more before they take the next step and begin the planning board’s comprehensive permit review:

“Without the information that we’re going to ask for, I don’t think it’s fair to have a public meeting and then have another public meeting,” Warren Town Planner Bob Rulli said.

Though town officials said much of the information was lacking, town officials said one big hurdle in the project’s development is clear: The impact on the sewer system.

The project is estimated to generate 100 gallons of effluent per minute. It would flow away from the site to Patterson Avenue,where a 24” pipe runs to Metacom. At that point, the pipe narrows to 15 inches and then up to 21 inches at the intersection of Metacom and Vernon. Already, Mr. Rulli said, that line is at its maximum design capacity of 1,400 gallons per minute.

“The 100 (additional) is going to create a bottleneck” at the 15” section, he said. “More than likely that section of pipe is going to need to be enlarged. It’s not going to work the way this is designed right now.”

The project is being proposed under the state’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, which allows developers to take advantage of streamlined approval processes and reduced town review if they dedicate a percentage of the units for affordable housing in towns that don’t meet the state’s threshold of having 10 percent of their housing stock deeded as affordable. Though there was little in-depth review of the project’s particulars, Fred Massie, chairman of the planning board, said he believes the project’s description as an affordable housing development belies the reality - it’s not really affordable at all, he suggested.

The application “says at least 25 percent (of units) will be deed-restricted,” he said. “That number really doesn’t make much of a dent in our 10 percent requirement (the town is currently just below 5 percent). That seems like a small percentage ... for this extremely large and tightly packed development. I would want to see significantly more than 25 percent if the argument is to be made that this is a means by which we can significantly ... impact affordable housing.”

Mr. Massie and others, too, said they have problems with some of the handful of waivers from town regulations that are being sought under the comprehensive permit application. Among them are parking space requirements and the planting of trees along the road, two particulars which gave Mr. Massie pause:

Those waivers “suggest a density of development that seems completely out of character with the size of this piece of property,” he said. It “suggests a level of profit over concern for quality of life in the area. To me those two waivers are frankly inappropriate for a development of this size.”

Following the meeting, Mr. Rulli said Last Ever’s engineer and the town’s engineering firms will review the 15” sewer line issue this week. Meanwhile, he sent a memo to the developer’s attorney asking for the additional information the committee had asked for.

Once the town receives the information and a meeting on the sewer line is completed, another review committee meeting will be scheduled. At the conclusion of that meeting, the committee will make a recommendation on the project to the planning board, which will then begin its review.

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