By Adam Bass-Staff Writer
At a public meeting about proposed zoning changes on 582 Kelley Boulevard for a 300-unit apartment complex, several residents made clear they were concerned or against the plan due to increased traffic.
The meeting, which took place on June 8, was officiated by Town Manager Michael Borg, the planning board and real estate agency Marcus Partners, proponents of the project, to be built on the Stix Driving Range. All three gave a presentation for residents to learn about the complex and how the changes in zoning would work.
Town resident Brian Foster said he was against the proposal due to safety concerns such as an increase of traffic which could lead to more accidents.
He said the current traffic mitigations implemented—like the turn lanes in the middle of the street—were confusing and people did not know how to use them.
“I’m 100 percent against this project,” Foster said. “From a traffic and safety perspective, this is a disaster.”
Other individuals agreed with Foster’s assessment and said that Kelley Boulevard is overused as a street already.
Not all residents said they were completely against this project. One asked whether the complex could be built anywhere else aside from the boulevard as a compromise solution.
Chapter 40R of the Mass General Laws encourages communities to create dense residential or mixed-use smart growth zoning districts—including a high percentage of affordable housing units—to be located near transit stations, in areas of concentrated development.
This differs from a 40B project, which allows developers to bypass certain parts of the approval process if 25 percent of the housing qualifies as affordable.
The complex would be a mix of studios and 1, 2, and 3-bedroom units. It would have 461 parking spaces and be organized into three four-story buildings. Rent would be approximately $2,700 for the market rate units. The Marcus Partners proposal, if approved, would raise the town’s affordable housing stock to 6 percent.
Another piece of legislation that impacts the project is the MBTA Communities Act of 2021. This requires those towns served by the MBTA to have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted. North Attleborough is listed as an MBTA Adjacent Community.
Communities that do not comply with these requirements will not be eligible to receive Massworks or Housing Choice funding. Recently, the town received a $75,000 grant through Housing Choice to study sewer lines on Mendon Road. Non-compliant communities will also be ineligible to receive funding from the Local Capital Projects Fund.
Economic Development and Housing Coordinator Lyle Pirnie explained that such an idea would be difficult as the other locations, such as the Webster Building site, need improvements to attract developers.
“That’s what we have,” Pirnie said. “We’re going to need to do some reworking.”
According to Borg and Marcus Partners, this would raise the town’s affordable housing stock to six percent. Under Massachusetts law, North Attleborough is required to have a minimum of ten percent.
“We have a housing crisis,” said Marcus Partner’s Caitlyn Walker. “So the main thrust behind this is to get housing for perhaps for housing in places that may not normally have been considered housing.”
Borg told residents that there would be more meetings about this project with one being in front of the Town Council sometime in August.
The project will need a final approval by the board, which is expected to take place in late October this year.
Borg said he will continue to help explain the process and listen to the questions about the project before the final vote.
“I am going to keep an open mind,” he said.