40B project heads to Shrewsbury Zoning Board of Appeals

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40B project heads to Shrewsbury Zoning Board of Appeals
An artist’s rendition of the proposed 40B project, Emerald Run, in Shrewsbury. (Screenshot/Shrewsbury Media Connection)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury’s latest proposed development, Emerald Run, went before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 18.

Emerald Run, which includes six four-story buildings and 300 total homeownership units, would be constructed at 33-69 Green St., land in the southeastern corner of town near Route 20. The project’s developer, Pulte Homes of New England, has several projects in local towns, including the 700-unit Chauncy Lake development in Westborough.

Emerald Run is a 40B project, meaning that 25% of the property — or 75 units — will be affordable. However, Pulte has worked with the town to make the development a “friendly 40B,” making several design changes to better suit the community’s goals. For example, should Emerald Run be approved, Pulte plans to donate a strip of land to Shrewsbury; the town will turn the land into a road to connect Green Street with South Street.

The town currently has around 6.0% subsidized housing stock, which is below the 10.0% mark for the town to get the Safe Harbor designation and protection from future 40B developments. While Emerald Run’s 75 affordable units would add to the total, Director of Planning and Economic Development Christopher McGoldrick said he likes the project as a whole — not merely for Safe Harbor benefits.

“The Safe Harbor provisions are obviously a strategy that the company is looking to utilize in order to better negotiate on these projects, but that — in the scale of this project — is actually a small piece. We have worked really diligently… looking at some of the improvements that can be made…water and sewer, the amenity space,” he said.

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Emerald Run would include mostly one- to two-bedroom units with 540 parking spaces. Some of the spaces would be located under the building. The project would include pickleball courts, grills and other amenities.

While Emerald Run would sit on a 36-acre lot, the actual development would be compact, leaving about 20 acres of the surrounding wetlands untouched. The buildings would be completely electric, sustainable and have energy-efficient appliances, according to the presentation to the board.

Pulte’s environmentalism was appreciated by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“I think it’s fantastic to see all the thoughtful planning that’s gone into this, especially [regarding] environmental issues: electrification, minimizing impervious surface area, native species planting. All these things are fantastic,” said Zoning Board of Appeals member Peter Mulcahy.

Although the board did not get “into the weeds” or discuss granular details of the project, members seemed impressed nonetheless.

retty much everything we could’ve asked you to cover… We love that you’re working in sync with the town. There seems to be good communication happening back and forth. That’s the best that we could ask for,” said Chair Maribeth Lynch.

Yet, there were also concerns from community members, namely residents of Appaloosa Drive and South Street. Several would-be abutters asked about the traffic, the impact on the schools and stormwater runoff.

Pulte’s project will return before the board at future meetings. On Jan. 29, the site plan and stormwater report will be reviewed; on Feb. 26, the traffic impact will be presented; on March 25, water and sewer improvements will be discussed; and there is another additional meeting scheduled for April 29.

Pulte has twice met with the Select Board, twice met with the Conservation Commission, and met with SELCO, the fire department, police department and the abutters to the property.

Pulte hopes to break ground as early as the end of 2024.

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