Occupancy certificate conditionally approved for 21 East St.

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A 193-unit mixed-use project at 21 East St. has received a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, but neighbors allege that the work done has drastically increased flooding in their homes. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the 21 East St. project has been approved, but developers have 60 days to address a number of issues.

Following an hour-long discussion, the Planning Board voted 3-0 to approve the TCO for two of the buildings on the property, owned by Jones Street Residential. Jones Street is the third owner for the land. The approval would allow for those who have already signed leases to move in, however, the third building could not be occupied.

During the July 1 hybrid meeting, the board went through a list of work to be done—ranging from sediment removal and fencing to catch basins and tree planting. This list was created by the firm Beals and Thomas in response to a review of the 193-unit apartment complex. The developer has until the board’s Sept. 2 meeting to finalize all the issues, and was told that an extension would be unlikely if this isn’t done.

The purpose of Planning Board six years ago was to not only deal with stormwater, but also make the site attractive,” said Chair Marie Clarner. “We expect you to leave the project looking better than it did before.”

During a previous meeting, David Andronico of Jones Street Residential had suggested they could limit occupancy to just those that signed leases. But at the July 1 meeting he told the board that after speaking with the lender for the project, this could not be done.

We cannot commit to not signing leases until the issues are addressed,” he said.

Neighbors ask for help with flooding

In previous meetings abutters told the board that flooding in their homes had been an issue for years due to the nearby 10 Mile River, which often overflows. Since work at 21 East St. began, they say it’s become a threat to their homes and health. Andronico has said in the past that they have seen flooding as well.

What needs to happen is we (the town) need to complete the dredging project for the 10-Mile River” he said at a meeting in June. “Our condition is the same as residents. It was never our intention to stabilize that river, the only thing that can is dredging it.”

Clarner told Andronico that the project cannot be tied to the dredging of the river.

Katherine Doherty of Holbrook Avenue said there is more than three feet of water in her basement caused by the project. She asked the board if they could allow their parents or their grandparents to live like this.

There are elderly on that street—we’re suffering and we’re asking for mercy,” she said.

Scott Twardowski of 14 Holbrook Ave. called in to the meeting to say he has never seen flooding this bad. He expressed sympathy for those that signed leases and warned that they may be wading through deep water.

It is not a safe condition,” said Twardowski. I think the solution is to redo the drainage.”

Attorney Stephen Clapp, representing Steven Banks of Holbrook Avenue, said that his client’s home has been destroyed by groundwater as a result of the project’s defective stormwater system. He said that it increased groundwater that flooded the neighbors and was unable to handle the runoff from the rains. Banks also spoke and said that if something wasn’t done soon he may need to move.

We need to get some kind of agreement with the town and developer so we’re not sinking like we’re sinking now,” said Banks.

During the meeting Clapp asked if an engineer he hired could speak on the project. Clarner said the board had been informed that the flooding was a civil matter and not under their purview.

It’s both a civil matter and a board matter,” said Clapp. “This system is polluting the 10 Mile River.”

The board decided it could not hear from the engineer during the meeting, that doing so would make them involved in the matter. Clarner said there was no “win-win-win” option here, but it was in no one’s interest to leave the project unfinished.

All the conditions are because the board was concerned,” said Clapp. “The plan is defective and the board should be cognizant of this.”

The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club