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Canton to consider 175-unit senior-housing development

Posted by Dave Eisenstadter  April 23, 2013 09:43 PM

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Canton Town Meeting members will consider a zoning change that could bring 175 units of senior housing to town, but selectmen were uncertain Tuesday whether to recommend it.

Brightview Senior Living, which would be located on Turnpike Street, would contain two types of units – assisted-living units and independent units, according to Michael Glynn, development director at The Shelter Group in Brooklyn.

If all went according to plan, which includes acceptance of Town Meeting warrant articles 16, 17, and 18, the facility would be operating by February 2015.

“The other option for this piece of land would be [single-family] homes,” said Selectman John Connolly, who added that neighbors have said senior housing would be preferable. “If I lived there, I would want my voice to be heard.”

Where some selectmen felt reservations was in the area of affordable housing.

Currently, about 10 percent of Canton’s housing meets the state's definition of affordable. Ten percent is the cutoff point for allowing developments to come to town under the state’s 40B affordable-housing law, which allows developers to bypass local zoning in certain situations.

According to a report by consultant Lynne D. Sweet, principal with the LDS Consulting Group in Newton, Canton will soon be at just under 12 percent.

The Brightview development would not have any affordable units, and Glynn said he was confident the new development would not significantly affect Canton’s percentage, if at all. Assisted-living units are counted under a different classification – as a group home – and not affect the affordability percentage.

Attorney Richard R. Staiti, representing The Shelter Group, added that the company agreed to donate $300,000 to the town for repairs to existing affordable units, or to otherwise dedicate to affordable housing in town.

He also said the development would be estimated to bring in $250,000 of tax revenue annually, compared with the $36,000 annually the current owner pays. The development on the 32-acre parcel would also leave 15 acres of wetlands intact and only be developed on a small portion of the remainder.

“Canton is set for decades to come with the 10 percent [affordability],” Glynn said, adding that the $300,000 could be used strategically for repairs of existing affordable units.

Selectman Victor Del Vecchio asked how expensive it would be for The Shelter Group to provide affordable units.

Glynn responded that The Shelter Group had never provided affordable units in any of its other developments and did not feel confident that it could provide them as a part of the Canton development.

“I would be uncomfortable providing an exception for one developer versus another,” said Del Vecchio, who said other developers had included affordable units.

Selectmen Chairman Robert Burr said the board would not take a position Tuesday, but would consider the proposal at its next meeting on May 7, or at Town Meeting, which will take place on May 13.

The Planning Board had previously approved the change, according to Staiti.

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