DEP Decision Means End of Road for Neighbors
The state recently sided with the developer of a 40B project and the neighbors must reluctantly end their fight.
The neighbors on River Street near the proposed Taylor Cove development have been fighting for over a decade to keep what they feel is an inappropriate apartment complex out of their neighborhood.
But the group lost their battle this past month when the state Department of Environmental Protection sided with the developer and approved the project for construction.
Neighbor Frances Wheeler said that, between everything that has gone on in the recent years, this project's passage hits home.
"It's heart breaking and it’s a life-changer," said Wheeler.
Developer Todd Wacome had first proposed a home subdivision called Victoria Place, which did not pass the muster of the town permitting process, and then proposed Taylor Cove, a 40B, 32-unit condo unit development. However, the Conservation Commission would not allow the project to go through based on new wetland boundaries.
The Commission even voted in favor of a cease and desist order saying that they could perform no site work until the ruling from the DEP came down. In a letter dated last Tuesday, the DEP over-ruled a 2011 decision to deny the project by the Conservation Commission.
While the 40B law allows developers to bypass local rules as long as they price 25 percent of the housing as affordable, Wheeler said it is still unfortunate that the state would not consider the town's opinions.
"The broader theme is the state not listening to the local and knowledgeable staff. It’s particularly frustrating," said Wheeler.
Conservation Commission staff member Linda Cleary said that the Conservation Commission denial of the Taylor Cove project was written strongly.
"They denied it based on a lack of sufficient information and its inability to protect riverfront resource areas," said Cleary.
Cleary said that it would not be wise to fight the DEP's decision in this case, largely due to the fact that the DEP staff member that wrote the decision is a riverfront expert.
"It would be very difficult to refute," said Cleary.
In addition to environmental concerns of the river nearby, neighbors feel the project does not fit in the already busy area on River Street.
Nearby resident Mick Mueck said that Taylor Cove will bring heavy duty construction noises 6 days a week for possibly 3 years straight, making outdoor leisure time much less enjoyable according to other neighbors.
But he said the traffic issues may turn out to be much more serious.
"River Street, with its current amount of congestion, is just going to get further conjested," said Mueck.