A mixed-use development that will bring a brew pub/restaurant and more housing downtown and finally resolve the longstanding saga over the old fire station site has been given the go-ahead by the town.
After lengthy discussion, planning board members Nov. 14 voted unanimously for special permits for the development that would replace the old fire station and adjacent former funeral home at 40 School St./21 Market St.
Proposed by Douglas A. King Builders of North Easton is a pub/restaurant on the first floor and four one-bedroom/studio residential units on the second floor of the former fire station building that will be partially torn down. King Builders plans a four-story building consisting of 15 one-bedroom/studio rental units on the site of the former Keating Funeral Home, which would be razed.
Also, an 11-vehicle parking lot will be built between the two buildings. The developer also will build a public parking lot at 15-17 Market St., subject to Housing Authority and town authorization.
“The proposed project will draw more people to Foxboro’s downtown for entertainment and to live, which is consistent with the Master Plan/Downtown Strategy,” Town Planner Paige Duncan said.
The project has stirred some controversy, with several residents concerned with parking and traffic turning out for the hearings, which began in October.
The planning board was the last key board the project needed approval from.
The four special permits approved by the planning board are for a mixed-use project with more than three dwelling units; brew pub; height to allow four stories and 42 feet (3.5 stories and 40 feet are allowed by right in the Foxboro Center Overlay District); and a reduction of building setbacks.
Planning board members pointed out the nearby area features the Bethany Church with a 56-foot high roof line and a 150-foot high spire, a three-story 33-foot high commercial building at 34 School St., and the St. Alban’s Masonic Lodge on Rockhill Street that is about 40 feet tall.
Changes, however, were made to building elevations following extensive input and review, including from the Design Review Board, Duncan said.
Also, based on the need for more housing downtown, board members found the project overall is appropriate for the area.
Selectmen held a public hearing and supported the plans moving forward, voting 2-1 in September to release the town-owned property for private use by issuing a municipal conversion permit.
Douglas King Buildings last May won out over two other bidders to redevelop the half-acre property when selectmen decided the firm would best meet the town’s vision of a mixed-use project embracing both a restaurant and residential uses on the site. King had bid $405,000 for the property.
Residents expressed a desire to keep the old fire station as opposed to demolishing it, but the funeral home building is in a decrepit state, Duncan said.
More housing downtown is expected to help businesses but several area residents have expressed concerns about traffic, parking and other issues despite a traffic study having been conducted.
A traffic engineer hired by the town concluded the project would have a negligible effect on overall traffic in the downtown area.
Once the decision is filed with the town clerk, that will start a 20-day appeal period.