Abutters opposed to the 193-unit apartment complex at 21 East St. spoke of the need for a detailed study of the project’s drainage system, saying it’s insufficient for the amount of water it takes in.
The project came before the Planning Board at its Sept. 2 meeting. The discussion began with a review of several items that had yet to be completed as per a report issued on Sept. 1 by Beals and Thomas. This included plantings on the site, making the three buildings fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and addressing an issue with the lights shining on neighbor’s properties. David Andronico of Jones Street Residential—the third developer of the site in five years—took questions on these items and said that most had been resolved or would be soon.
Matt Cote, a civil engineer with Beals and Thomas, said that past hydraulic modeling for the site hasn’t included a section of piping that contains a Downstream Defender, a hydrodynamic vortex separator that captures and retains sediments. He said not including this in the reviews makes the final analysis unreliable.
“If they model it without taking into account the impacts of the river the it won’t show what will happen,” said Cote. “When the plans were made, they knew the river would be an issue.”
Cote said that the developer will need to show proof that the drainage system will perform as the plans show. Typically a certification from the engineer of record is requested that the system was installed. Andronico said this could be done.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Attorney Steven Clapp—representing the Banks family, who live on Holbook Avenue and abut the mixed-use complex—said the family’s home has sustained considerable damage due to the Ten Mile River overflowing into the parking lot. He said that the stormwater system at the site cannot handle the water, which then goes into the backyards and homes of nearby residents. The river overflows frequently and the town is in the process of getting federal funding to dredge it.
The attorney spoke of the town’s recently-adopted stormwater bylaw and how the Planning Board plays an important role in its enforcement. In the case of the Banks home, Clapp said the flooding has resulted in the loss of electricity and the furnace and has caused mold and mildew to grow in the home. He added that there is two feet of water in the basement that the family cannot get rid of.
“A stormwater system should not cause the area to flood every time it rains,” said Clapp.
Clapp called for the system to be tested to ensure it can handle repeated rainstorms. He acknowledged that the Ten Mile River has been a problem for years, but that the system isn’t helping the situation.
“The system should be draining water,” he said. “It just isn’t working.”
Heather Mardarosian of Holbrook Avenue raised a number of inconsistencies between the plan and the final project, but was told these had either been addressed or had little impact on the site. She too encouraged a more complete hydraulic test.
“We need to test the whole system,” she said.
During the meeting Board Chair Marie Clarner said that issues between the neighbors and the developer were under the purview of civil court, not the Planning Board.
The board gave the developer until Nov. 1 to resolve any outstanding issues raised in the Beals and Thomas report. They also requested that the developer submit the engineer’s certification that the project had been built according to plan.
Currently the developer has a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy which allows people to move in to two of the three buildings. When Andronico asked if resolving these issues could lead to the third building being opened to tenants, he was advised to not “press his luck.”