By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Sotir Papalilo, the developer of the proposed 40B affordable housing development at 23 Prentice St., met with the Grafton Board of Selectmen June 7 to discuss the project. The planned development is estimated to cost $9.4 million and would have 54 units in five buildings: 21 one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom units.
All 54 units would count toward the town’s inventory of affordable housing on the Subsidized Housing Inventory. The project has received the approval of the Grafton Affordable Housing Trust. Papalilo will precede with the Zoning Board of Appeals as a 40B plan but the presentation before the Board of Selectmen aimed to get their approval before proceeding.
Selectman Craig Dauphinais noted that the project density was unlike anything else in the area and that “it would not speak to the character of the neighborhood,” just down the street from the Art Bradish Snack Bar. Papalilo replied that people want residential use rather than commercial activity in such an area. This would fit, he continued, with the area’s secluded nature.
“This is a well-established neighborhood and this project doesn’t fit the neighborhood,” continued Dauphinais. “Traffic is another significant problem….54 units just seems too high.”
To this, Papalilo noted that the number of units might well serve employees and students at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and offered to conduct a traffic study. Dauphinais continued that the board has been discussing building sidewalks and asked if the builder could link sidewalks to the project.
Chair Jennifer Thomas noted that it would be nice to build additional sidewalks to those around the ball field to add to the area’s “walkability.”
Papalilo said that the next step in the project would be to submit it to the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust and that there could be more public input regarding the issue.
The meeting then passed to Town Administrator Timothy McInerney who informed those present that the next step for the board would be to issue a letter of support if it so desired. Daupinais then asked what outreach had been done to get community support. Selectman Brook Padgett repeated the concern that the project might be too dense to which Papalilo repeated that the location is a good one and is secluded.
“Is there a chance to limit the number of three-bedroom units?” asked Selectman Sargon Hanna. Papalilo responded that financial support is counting upon the requested number of three-bedrooms.
Noted Selectman Bruce Spinney, “54 units would be a step in the right direction toward the required 10 percent affordable housing. I think this is a marked improvement over other 40B proposals.”