January 30, 2005
CARVER -- The education of Jack Hunter began about five weeks ago.
"I've learned more about cranberries than I ever thought I would know," said Hunter, who took over as planning director here in late December, after working in Holyoke for 15 years. "Everybody seems to have a bog in their backyard in this town. Instead of a cow and two chickens, they have a bog."
With the help of a $37,000 "smart growth" grant from the state earlier this month, Hunter hopes to educate his new bosses about possible ways of managing Carver's future. A 2001 master plan called for preserving the bogs, but also for finding ways to diversify the housing stock.
"By offering variety, we provide more options for the people who live in the community," the study found. "Carver will never be affluent, but a greater demographic range would bring needed resources into town."
The grant, Hunter said, will help educate residents about possible zoning changes, including the concept of building "villages," for example, where an entire commercial and residential community would be built instead of subdivisions of just single-family homes. Hunter said firm ideas likely will be ready for the 2006 Town Meeting.
Best known outsides its borders for bogs, the Edaville USA Family Fun Park, and the seasonal, medieval-themed King Richard's Faire, the town is increasingly attractive to commuters as the state completes the widening of Route 44, sharply cutting travel time to Route 3 and Interstate 495, said Brenda Titus of Century 21 Classic Gold Realty in Carver. MBTA commuter rail is available in neighboring towns.
A cap on building permits keeps single-family housing construction small, and the only condominium option right now is an over 55-project with 10 units and prices $350,000 to $400,000, Titus said. Homes are selling in about 60 days, slower than last year.
"It's still a good market, but not as quick moving as we are accustomed to," said Titus.
On a recent week, Realtor.com listed 51 single-family homes, ranging from $192,500 for a one-bedroom, one-bath, 576-square-foot cottage to $649,900 for a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,717-square-foot home on 4½ acres.
"Area wise, it's a large town," Titus said. "But population wise, it's still a small town, a friendly community."
36 Forest St. One-family Cape, built in 1971, 1,704 square feet, 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1½ baths, on 23,087-square-foot lot. $325,000
42 Great Meadow Drive One-family ranch, built in 1975, 960 square feet, 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, on 22,651-square-foot lot. $269,900
7 Johns Pond Road One-family split-level, built in 1989, 2,932 square feet, 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2½ baths, on 60,113-square-foot lot. $525,000
9 Main St. One-family raised ranch, built in 1976, 948 square feet, 5 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1½ baths, on 25,700-square-foot lot. $201,000
6 Oak Drive One-family, built in 1952, 720 square feet, 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, on 8,712-square-foot lot. $254,000