Say No to Goodridge Brook Estates
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We call on the Lancaster Board of Appeals (BOA) to not approve a Comprehensive Permit for Goodridge Brook Estates on the grounds of public safety, health, and financial well-being. Does our town want to, and need to increase its inventory of affordable housing? Yes. Should this massive project, as proposed, be approved? No.
Summary of Public Safety, Health, & Financial Well-being Concerns
(1) Overcapacity is well beyond practical mitigation in (A) water withdrawal, (B) sewer & I/I rate, & (C) traffic load on adjacent network of very narrow roads and RR crossings.
(2) Resulting environmental damage of proposal and the conceptual plan which is unrelated to site and adjacent exisiting neighborhood are both irreparable once built.
(3) High risk comined with lack of transparency places an unreasonable financial burden on tax payers.
Instead, allow Lancaster residents to complete and activate the Lancaster Housing Production Plan already underway to create the BEST affordable housing possible that we would all be proud to call home!
1. More than 45 acres of high density housing, this project's unprecendented scale in Lancaster, if approved, will have an over-reaching impact on town resources and infrastructure, specifically related to water, sewer, and roads. We ask the BOA to deny permitting the proposal as it will exceed capacity in these three critical areas, jeopardizing public health and safety.
(A) Stretching Lancaster's water and sewer capacity to the brink. According to officials from the Department of Public Works (DPW), Lancaster does not have the water withdrawal to support this project or even a scaled down version. Similarly, commissioners from the Lancaster Sewer District Commission (LSDC), are concerned the project exceeds current allowances. Questions remain relative to exisiting residents in the District and whether they may be unable to tie-in to the town sewer in the event of septic failure emergencies, or to have access to town sewer for any buildable lot they already own. These are direct public health and safety risks. The secondary impact on property values for these residents is also real and significant.
(B) Generating an unsafe traffic burden and without proper means of site entrance and egress. Sterling Road is a very narrow, winding country road with poor visibility crests. By its topography and adjacent properties, Sterling Road is not equipped for road expansion, by-passes, and sufficient site entrance and egress for emergency vehicles. Additionally, three nearby rail crossings stop traffic throughout the day for 10 minute intervals: on Sterling Road adjacent to the site, on Chace Hill Road 1/4 mile from site, and most dangerously, on Route 62 at the intersection of South Meadow Road. 200 additional households and their associated vehicular traffic (residents, guests, trucks) will be make public safety unmanageable. This will also rid Sterling Road and the area of the many frequent cyclist teams that traverse South Lancaster in spring, summer, and fall.
2. The environmental impact scale of this project triggers a review byt he Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA). We ask the BOA to wait for the results of the MEPA Review before issuing any decision in order to protect the environment and public health. We further ask the BOA to uphold the high density planning measures explicitly put in place to prevent a proposal of this scale being jammed into a parcel of land on Sterling Road - measures explicity put in place to prevent putting public health and safety at risk.
(A) Destroying forever over 45 acres of increasingly rare woodland and wetland ecosystems, as well as their unique ability to reduce air pollution and temperature in Lancaster.
(B) Replacing this important habitat with mainly impervious surfaces: 2-3 apartment buildings, 64 houses, roads, driveways, and parking lots - and the associated additional heat generated, toxic carbon emissions, and poisonous run-off into Lancaster's soil, wetlands and groundwater systems year-round.
(C) Contradicting the Town's policy and allocation of resources to implement sound planning practices and creating high-density land use in a safe area of Lancaster. Over-riding this poses a tangible danger to public health and safety. Furthermore, the conceptual site plan and building typology does not at all meet the 40B eligibility criteria of "appropriate" to the site and exisiting neighborhood.
Note: Goodridge Brook Estates is located a section of Lancaster where zoning prohibits this project due to the surrounding infrastructure and land use. In 2017 the town proactively voted to allow higher-density housing (20 units/acre) off Route 2 in the north part of town. The IPOD overlays there are specifically designed to address the need for mixed-use development and affordable housing. These changes are part of Lancaster's Master Plan that's been executed for the past decade, and the Town has actively worked to roll back zoning practices that might hold back new housing.
3. We oppose the creation of 40B housing with inappropriately high risk associated with the developer and without full transparency. Without clear standards of conduct in place, this project threatens to undermine the well-being of Lancaster's taxpayers.
(A) Permitting a developer for a project of 45+ acres and associated impact without vetting its prior track record. An easy-to-perform on-line review of Crescent Builders produces confirmed reports of permit violations and quality control concerns in Shrewsbury, West Boylston, the Rip-off Report, and other sources. While the 40B process is designed to ease the approvals for developers in order to promote an increase in affordable housing, does it require communities to ignore serious issues surrounding the track record of the developer? This only increases Lancaster's financial risk for its tax payers.
(B) Not ensuring how 25% of the housing created with remain affordable in perpetuity. 40B housing has a history of not remaining 25% affordable once built, thus not guaranteeing that the municipality reaches it expected contribution toward its required 10% overall ratio. Given the substantial concessions to the developer from local and state agencies, Lancaster must have a clear means of accounting for 25% of units in perpetuity. Without this, Lancaster enters into a high risk agreement. This, too, has not been resolved and adds to the overwhelming burden of fiduciary risk to Lancaster's tax-payers.
Those signing this petition are FOR affordable housing and we are FOR welcoming low and median income residents to Lancaster. To this end, we are FOR best practice in design, review, and implementation. Please act to protect the public health, safety, and well-being of Lancaster's environment and its residents, including current and future 40B residents, by NOT approving a comprehensive permit for this irreversible, high risk project. Instead, allow Lancaster residents to complete and activate the Lancaster Housing Production Plan already underway to create the BEST affordable housing possible that we would all be proud to call home!
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