Plans to develop Northborough Bartlett Pond peninsula return to Planning Board

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Plans to develop Northborough Bartlett Pond peninsula return to Planning Board
A photo shows property on Ridge Road in Northborough back in November of last year. Developers have been eyeing this site for months, recently bringing a new proposal back to the Northborough Planning Board. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

NORTHBOROUGH – Plans to develop a property at 75 Ridge Road in Northborough have headed back to the Planning Board.

First presented last summer and revisited since then, the project proposal has evolved again, with developers now pitching a plan to construct three homes on the site.

“It’s been a long road getting here,” said project engineer Scott Cameron during a June 21 Planning Board meeting.

The approximately four-acre property is a peninsula on Bartlett Pond. It currently houses eight structures in varying states of decay.

Throughout developer Downeast Residential LLC’s meetings with the Planning Board over the past year, representatives have shown the board photos from the property – including images of a PT cruiser with a tree through it as well as trash and debris.

Previous plans called for more homes

This plan for three new homes is the latest idea for this particular site after the developers went before the Planning Board last summer for an informal presentation.

Cameron said they began looking at the property in 2019.

Last year, the developers asked the Planning Board to consider adding the Residential C zoning district, which includes the Ridge Road property, to the town’s bylaw for open space-residential design.

The developers said this change would allow them to fit as many as eight homes on the
property, though they planned to reduce that number to five.

However, the Planning Board expressed hesitancy at making that change.

“I’d hate…to change the bylaws for an entire district for one project right now without knowing what could happen as a result of it,” Planning Board member Anthony Ziton said at a Dec. 7 meeting.

Plans explained

Now, the developers are proposing to build their three homes around a common driveway.

“The views from the property are breathtaking,” Cameron said. “I saw this for the first time in fall with the foliage in place. It’s quite amazing.”

However, he said the property has been “intensely” used for a long period of time.

Cameron said some cesspools on the site are open and hard to see because of the plants covering the ground.

He said he scaled a pile of garbage on the site, though, measuring it at about eight feet tall and about 30 feet in circumference.

“I wasn’t sure how deep below the ground it went,” Cameron said. “But it’s just garbage on garbage on garbage.”

Cameron said there’s a baseline cost to return the property to a state where it could be used. In the past, the developers have likened the cleanup cost in this case to the price of buying another tract of land.

Speaking on June 21, town staff and Planning Board members asked numerous questions about several topics, including the trees that they planned to save.

Cameron detailed benchmarks for determining whether trees could be saved and said his team has developed a construction sequence with the Conservation Commission, which will include marking trees to be saved and removed if this project moves forward.

Planning Board member Bill Pierce complimented developers, acknowledging possible work ahead.

“I really appreciate, number one, you guys willing to come in and do this work to make this property right. But, number two, the fact that you are trying to keep as many of the trees on the outside of the property that you can,” Pierce said.

The Planning Board did not make a decision on this latest project proposal last month, instead continuing its public hearing to July 14.

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