The Community Preservation Committee Thursday approved spending $4 million to go toward building a 52-unit affordable apartment project at the Redbrook development on land donated by A.D. Makepeace Co.
The money was awarded to the Grantham Group LLC, based in Marlborough.
But the committee was split on whether the project, which will total about $25 million, deserved Community Preservation funding.
Chair Bill Keohan raised concerns about awarding public money for the project since Makepeace – which developed Redbrook – has yet to fulfill a prior commitment to build 103 affordable housing units. To date, Makepeace has built only 15 units, Keohan said.
“I would like to understand that we’re using public money to pay for building these units that they were required to build as a result of a permitting process that gave them the unique opportunity to develop Redbrook,” Keohan said.
Dan Gorczyca, vice president and project executive at Makepeace, said the 52 one-bedroom rental units would be for people age 62 and over. All of them would be classified as affordable housing, he said, and residents would be selected through a lottery.
Grantham is also applying for $500,000 from the Plymouth Housing Trust for the project. The balance would come from the state. To obtain state funds, Gorczyca said, Grantham must show that it has financial support from the town.
Keohan also had questions about how the application came to the committee. Even though it was prepared by Redbrook and will benefit Grantham, Town Manager Derek Brindisi sent it, Keohan said. A follow-up email from Gorczyca thanked Brindisi for the meeting they had to discuss the matter, Keohan added.
“Never before has a town manager submitted an application to the entire committee digitally on behalf of a private developer,” Keohan said.
Brindisi said he received a copy of the proposal from Makepeace and forwarded it to the appropriate board as he would with any other pertinent information.
Grantham plans to break ground in the fall of 2025.
Several dozen Plymouth residents attended the meeting in person and on Zoom. Most of those who spoke up opposed the $4 million grant.
They included residents of Redbrook who submitted two letters opposing the project on several grounds, including that the project is too big, that it would destroy existing trees, vegetation, and open space, eliminate a playground, that the developer did not provide abutters with sufficient notice, and that it would force residents to look out at dumpsters from nearby restaurants. Other complaints were about insufficient parking, a lack of walking trails, poor cell phone service, and the distance of the apartments from amenities.
In response, Gorczyca said that Redbrook will have more than 2,200 acres under conservation by the time the project is completed and that the playground site was never meant to be permanent.
Keohan said many of the concerns raised by residents would be best addressed by the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Committee approved the $4 million for the project by a vote of 4-2. Karen Buechs, Betty Cavacco, John Mahoney, and Allen Hemberger voted in favor of it, with Keohan and Russel Shirley in opposition. Member Bill Fornaciari abstained.
The proposal now goes to Town Meeting on April 6 for approval.
The committee also approved an application from the Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless for $3 million to build a shelter for 26 families at 54 Industrial Road.
The Coalition currently has a shelter that allows for a maximum of 13 families, executive director Suzanne Giovanetti explained. (Giovanetti sits on the board of the Plymouth Independent.)
The new shelter would be close to transit and jobs and the building to be converted offers a separate entrance for future educational programs.
The Coalition is applying to the state for another $4 million for the project, which is expected to cost nearly $7 million.
Giovanetti predicted that the work on the building would start in August of next year and be completed by August 2025.
In addition, the committee approved spending $960,000 in Community Preservation funds to build 6 units of affordable housing at 134 Court St., as well as several projects to restore fallow cranberry bogs, and to improve the trail network along Town Brook.
Fred Thys can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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