Grafton residents debate Pleasant Commons proposal

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Grafton residents debate Pleasant Commons proposal
A proposed housing development called The Reserve at Pleasant Commons would bring 104 rental units to 59 Pleasant St. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

GRAFTON – Amid the research into soil, traffic, water and affordable housing, abutters of the proposed development at 59 Pleasant St. continue to ask about safety, traffic and possible environmental impacts.

During a public hearing conducted by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, May 17, the ZBA joined representatives from the applicant, 59 Pleasant St. Properties LLC, in presenting updates and fielding questions.

Plans for the Reserve at Pleasant Commons call for a total of 104 units across four multifamily apartment buildings – the market-rate units will include 24 one-bedroom apartments; 45 two-bedroom apartments; and nine three-bedroom apartments. The affordable units will include four one-bedroom apartments; 15 two-bedroom apartments; and seven three-bedroom apartments.

The 12.4-acre site is currently owned by members of the Wasiuk family, subject to a purchase-and-sale agreement with the applicant.

Half of the site would be donated to the town for open space and conservation purposes.

As part of the plans, developer Eastland Partners of Worcester will install a sidewalk and a 14-foot-tall privacy berm.

A possible switch from peaked roofs to flat roofs drew criticism from ZBA member William Yeomans.

“The design is a major issue in my mind,” he said. “I think the flat roof is ugly. This should be addressed sooner rather than later.”

Grafton residents debate Pleasant Commons proposal
A rendering of The Reserve at Pleasant Commons. (Photo/Town of Grafton)

Residents weigh in on The Reserve

Todd Kramer, who lives on Peters Way, wrote to the ZBA that he supports the project.

“Eastland has agreed to help mitigate drainage that has caused flooding to occur on our property,” he wrote. “They have agreed to donate the wooded area to the town and keep access to the trails.”

While some abutters said they support having more affordable housing projects in Grafton, they do not want this project in their neighborhood.

“We are not opposed to affordable housing projects. We are strongly opposed to this project,” said Pleasant Street residents Gail and Bob Sjoberg in a letter to the ZBA. “This neighborhood is zoned for single-family homes with lot sizes of 1 acre. Several projects have been completed off Pleasant Street with 40B cluster development, which includes smaller lots, and open space.”

“These projects were completed and although they add traffic to the street, we feel they were done within the character of the neighborhood. This project is not at all within the character of the neighborhood,” the letter states.

The Sjobergs cited the number of rental units on six acres; the traffic count; the egress for fire apparatus; and how close the development would be to buffer zones.

During the May 17 hearing, several abutters voiced their concerns about the possible impact on local wildlife. One resident said that bald eagles nest nearby.

According to the proposal’s development impact statement, “The project will not alter any wetland resource areas; only minor work will occur in the buffer zone.”

Traffic was another topic that drew plenty of discussion.

“I am terrified for the safety of the children,” said a Pleasant Street resident, citing the amount of traffic that uses the long and narrow roadway.

The ZBA voted to continue the public hearing to Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Grafton Public Library.

For more information on the project, visit here.

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