Planning Board approves over-55 development for Greenbriar Drive


Planning Board approves over-55 development for Greenbriar Drive
A developer is eyeing land on Greenbriar Drive for over-55 housing. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SHREWSBURY – Developers of a proposed over-55 housing development near the intersection of Greenbriar Drive and Cypress Avenue have cleared a major hurdle but not without a significant concession.

At a March 16 special meeting, the Planning Board voted to grant site plan approval and a special permit to Cypress Avenue Development Partners LLC for its project at 1 Greenbriar Drive. The votes were 4-0 on each motion, with board member Stephan Rodolakis not in attendance.

The newest version of the plans for the project calls for 48 units, which will be made up of a combination of single units and duplexes. When first proposed a year ago, the plans called for 66 units. That was then cut to 60 over the summer.

Facing continued opposition from the board, the developers scaled back the project to 53 units. But at its Feb. 2 meeting, members of the Planning Board stood united in their opposition, calling for further unit reduction.

Cutting the project to 48 units was enough to win board approval.

“Where units were duplexes, we changed duplexes down to individual units, which allowed us to separate the units a little more and make [the development] less dense than what it was,” said John Grenier, principal at J.M. Grenier Associates, the Shrewsbury-based engineering firm working with the developers.

The new iteration of the project also eliminates the proposed clubhouse, further reducing the density.

“The industry standard is, typically, if you have developments that are 60 units or larger, a clubhouse is a good thing to have,” said Grenier. “If you have less than 60 units, the thing you have is the monthly condo fees start going up. You wind up having fees that are too high, and it’s not warranted.”

Rather than having eight units designated as “affordable,” as would be required on a project of this type, the developers have chosen the option of paying a fee for each of those units. Board Chair Steven Boulay said that according to the state formula, that fee is $87,307 per unit for a total of $698,456.

Members of the board expressed their appreciation to Grenier and Lawrence Rosenberg and Stephen Blum of Cypress Avenue Development LLC for their perseverance and willingness to work with the board.

“It’s been quite some time and we’ve been requesting changes all throughout the process,” said board member Purna Rao. “It looks as though those changes [have been made], the most important of which was the reduction of the units. At this point, I’m satisfied.”

“My biggest concern was the density and obviously they’ve reduced the number of units down to where I feel more comfortable,” said board member Joseph Thomas.

Pooling water

The Planning Board meets regularly on the first Thursday of the month, and the public hearing for the 1 Greenbriar Drive project had been scheduled to be wrapped up and votes taken at the March 2 meeting. However, only three board members were able to attend that meeting, and four members are needed to vote on the special permit.

As a result, the board agreed to schedule a special meeting on March 16, with 1 Greenbriar as the only hearing on the agenda.

Several residents spoke at the final session of the public hearing. The primary concern expressed was regarding pooling of water on streets, sidewalks and in backyards as a result of ongoing and future construction.

“Cypress Avenue is getting wetter and wetter. There is a new house being built at the top of Cypress. They’re not completely done with construction. But the pooling in front of the house directly next to it … has at least doubled,” said Rachael Missall. “Every time a new house is built in this neighborhood, more pooling on the streets and in the yards occurs. My neighbor was talking about his yard being very wet. You can’t walk on the sidewalk in front of his house anymore.”

Grenier blamed some of the flooding in the area on beaver activity in an area of the wetlands that “bottlenecks.” However, he also said mitigations would be put in place to deal with water runoff.

“It’s required that post development … that water runoff be no worse than it was in pre-development, wooded condition,” said Grenier.

According to Grenier, the water is first treated and then captured in detention basins. The plans include a large detention basin on the easterly side of the property, which Grenier noted is the lowest side of the site. The stormwater management can handle up to a 100-year storm event.

“We are reducing the rate of runoff from the site through detention basins and stormwater management,” he added.


Developers asked to trim down housing proposal on Greenbriar Dr.

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