MARLBOROUGH – Plans for a mixed-use development at the former Rowe Funeral Home, 57 Main St., took one step forward on March 23.
After nearly two hours of discussion, the City Council’s Urban Affairs Committee voted 3-2 to approve the site plan put forth by the applicant, JW Capital Partners LLC.
Councilors Donald Landers, Laura Wagner and David Doucette voted for approval, while councilors Sean Navin and Kathleen Robey, the committee’s chair, voted against.
Much of the discussion revolved around parking for the proposed development. Current plans call for 99 units – mainly studio and one-bedroom apartments – and 28 parking spaces. This would include two spots for onsite rental cars.
The applicant, along with its attorney, Brian Falk, said the development is aimed at younger employees for companies such as Boston Scientific who may not have their own vehicles.
To accommodate tenants, including a possible restaurant, the applicant said there would be adequate space available at public lots on Bolton and South Bolton streets, as well as the Court Street garage.
Bob Michaud of MDM Transportation Consultants, which conducted the traffic study commissioned by the applicant, said that even at peak times, there are more than 60 spaces available. Much of that space is on the upper levels of the Court Street garage.
He added that the Newton Street garage would also have available space.
Wagner and Robey both pointed out that both garages, as well as the Bolton Street lot, have overnight restrictions.
The Bolton Street lot is also used for pickup and dropoff for the Early Childhood Center across the street.
Several councilors questioned the availability of parking spots, given the recovery of businesses post-pandemic, as well as other developments recently approved by the city.
The issue of public transportation also came into play. Navin said that the city doesn’t have a train station, and residents have to drive to certain areas to pick up a shuttle bus.
“I want to see this move forward,” said Navin, but because of the parking issues “I have too many concerns” about the project and ended up voting against it.
Falk pointed out that the proposal complies with the city’s current guidelines for site plan review, including parking. He added that to try and trim the number of units, or to increase parking, would not be economically feasible for the applicant.
After an initial vote to deny the site plan failed 3-2, the vote to approve carried.
The plans for the former Rowe Funeral Home will go to the city solicitor before it heads to the full council on Monday, April 10.