SHREWSBURY – Community members voiced concerns earlier this month as the Shrewsbury Planning Board got its first look at plans for a 55+ development near the intersection of Greenbriar Drive and Cypress Avenue.
Speaking during the public hearing, individuals argued that the plans call for too many units on a site that is, as attorney Doug Radigan said, “ill-fitted for a project of this magnitude.”
“This is something that is going to be impactful to all these homes,” said Radigan, who is representing some of the development’s would-be neighbors. “It’s going to be impactful to the community at large.”
Project would feature 66 units
The Planning Board approved plans for a cul-de-sac into the site last month.
Those plans focused solely on the cul-de-sac and did not include residential buildings themselves. Shrewsbury Director of Planning and Economic Development Bernie Cahill previously told the Community Advocate at the time, though, that developers were looking to build senior housing.
According to project engineer John Grenier, the project is made up of two parcels, which are now being combined to create a 38.46-acre site.
The developers specifically want to build 66 units for people over the age of 55. The end result would be a mix of duplexes and single units, Grenier said. The site would be accessed off Greenbriar Drive.
The developers also want to construct two walking trails in the site.
“They [would] have the ability to enjoy the site and not rely solely on the driveway that loops throughout the site,” Grenier said of the future tenants.
Speaking on March 3, Cahill said he was working with Shrewsbury’s GIS coordinator to create a map of the town showing all the existing and proposed senior housing developments as a point of comparison.
Planning Board, residents share concerns
Planning Board members and residents voiced concerns on several topics following a presentation of these plans.
Planning Board members asked about the amount of parking for visitors, snow storage, the length of the road and water pressure.
Residents voiced concerns about topics ranging from noise, to runoff water, to buffers between the development and neighboring properties.
Radigan said his clients had been aware of this project. He said, though, that recent plans were 50% larger than what had been represented in a presentation in June.
“This, quite candidly, is a clear-cut of all the developable space on this particular parcel,” Radigan said.
He noted concerns about water runoff issues made worse by clear cutting the site.
He continued, saying that the site is in an area that will require a floodplain study.
“This is going to go directly under 290 and impact an area that is already chronically overflooded based on the current use and overflow,” Radigan said.
Cahill said the Conservation Commission will address concerns regarding wetlands and wildlife as this permitting process moves forward.
Grenier said that there were previously 17 fewer acres avalible for development in this area. A change in that avalibility, by extention, changed the scope of the project.
“There was no smoke and mirrors,” Grenier said.
‘One car is too many’
A traffic study has already been completed. Grenier said that, as a result, the developers do not anticipate that their project will have an effect on the local traffic.
He noted that Cypress Avenue remains the back entrance to Shrewsbury High School and that there is traffic in the morning when students are going to school.
He reiterated, though, that he did not anticipate a negative impact on the current traffic situation.
Planning Board member Joseph Thomas Jr. expressed concern about traffic due to the density of the project and its proximity to the high school.
“I also have kids that go to the high school and I know it’s not just a drive in the morning and drive out at night thing. It’s traffic all day long coming in and out of the high school — activities, sports, clubs,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ concerns were echoed by residents.
“Traffic is really probably one of the main quality of life issues we have in this neighborhood,” resident Roger Wiseman said.
He recalled how his in-laws, who live down the road, bought their home in 1978. They saw the high school get built and watched as traffic increased.
Wiseman said he jokes with his neighbors that it’s the “Shrewsbury 500.”
Wiseman said that a now retired Shrewsbury law enforcement official once told him that this was the most complained about road in Shrewsbury.
Wiseman noted further concerns that the development might place elderly residents — whose reaction times may be diminished — next to young, inexperienced drivers.
It’s a public safety issue, he said.
“I understand that they came up with this study. For me, one car is too many at this point,” Wiseman continued.
The project will be back before the Planning Board on April 7.