It’s been a topic of conversation for many years, the fact that Mattapoisett has low available housing stock and even fewer units that could be considered affordable. On August 3, local real estate developer Ryan Correia came before the Mattapoisett Planning Board, remotely, to informally discuss subdivision options for property located at 3 Crystal Springs Road at the intersection of Acushnet Road.
Accompanying Correia as he laid out the initial conceptual design for the 21.63 acres was Nyles Zager of Zenith Consulting Engineers, Lakeville.
The conceptual plans as described would include eight single-family homes on large lots in the town’s RR80 district. Those homes would have three or four bedrooms and two or more baths serviced by septic systems. But Correia said he wanted to plan the project that “…the town wants.”
Correia said, “This concept is a by-rights project, but we could look at 40B housing or senior units also.” He said before his team invested in a variety of development options they wanted to home in on what the town would find most acceptable.
“There are massive resources and wetlands in there,” said Zager said of the parcel. He said that the single-family concept versus cluster units, duplexes, apartments, or condominiums would, “fit the land with ample open spaces.” But other designs were not out of the question, he stated. Zager noted that multi-unit designs would mean far more engineering and time, given the wetlands on the property, and that it is an area significant to Massachusetts Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.
“These single-family homes will be designed to fit into the natural landscape,” said Zager.
The subdivision concept as presented would include three lots with frontage on Crystal Spring Road and a roadway with cul-de-sac for five more. “But we are looking for your input,” Correia reiterated.
Several board members commented that affordable housing is something the town needs with member Janice Robbins saying later in the discussion, “It seems clear we need more affordable housing in Mattapoisett. This plan will just be more homes, not affordable… Cluster housing done right could be very effective.” Member Karen Field clearly stated, “We need 40B.”
While the board members agreed that affordable housing is needed, where such housing should be placed remained an open question. With the writing of an updated Master Plan that the Planning Board is in the early stages of undertaking, its members felt this question might be answered. But acknowledging the Master Plan update is in its infancy, Chairman Tom Tucker said, “We might be putting the horse before the cart.”
Zager said that other concepts would mean the overall project would take much longer, whereas the plan as presented could move right along with a fall start date. Correia again said he wanted the town’s feedback.
“Part of my reluctance to speak out more is it’s hard to evaluate a project just in concept,” Robbins said. “The devil is in the details. Any one of your ideas could be acceptable.”
As the discussion drew to a close, Tucker told Correia that he needed to get feedback from the Highway Department, Fire Department, Police Department and any other applicable town agency before returning to the board with definitive plans.
Tucker also cautioned Correia, saying, “This concept fits with neighborhood. If you propose 40B, you’ll get significant pushback from the neighbors.”
Correia said his team would look at other options and take everything into consideration before returning with new plans.
In other business, Tucker said that a plan to construct a solar-array access road off Long Plain Road for an array planned just over the town line in Acushnet should have been formally submitted to the Planning Board for review. As it was, the proposal came to the attention of the board by way of the Building Department’s director, Andy Bobola.
Bobola asked the board to weigh in on whether or not informal plans showed adequate construction planning. In a follow-up, he said that when a driveway or roadway was in one town but the project in another, “It brings up legal issues – which town is responsible for fire and police services?”
Robbins asked that Town Counsel be asked for guidance, given the possible complexities of a project spanning two different municipalities.
Tucker felt the issues around the proposed roadway were more complex than a quick review of what he believed to be inadequate plans. “They could have submitted this in time for this meeting. This didn’t just come up,” he said. Planning Board administrator Mary Crain said she would reach out to the property owners and invite them to the next meeting.
Regarding the Master Plan, Crain was asked to secure firm dates for initial meetings and workshops, both of which would include two Planning Board members and town-wide volunteers. Grant King from Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) has been coordinating with Crain and will be the facilitator throughout the process.
Tucker was firm in his belief that the committee should be primarily populated by residents, not town employees or committee members. “It’s their town,” he said. Crain said that there would be an initial meeting with town employees at the request of the Town Administrator Mike Lorenco to help familiarize them with the process. An initial date of August 26 at 7:00 pm is possible, Crain said. As a public meeting, it will be posted at mattapoisett.net.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for August 31 at 7:00 pm.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell