King Builders rear apartment building with Market Street parking entrance

An architect’s rendering by King Builders for the former fire station site.

With the permitting process scheduled to begin, a Market Street couple is asking selectmen to reject current plans to redevelop the former fire station/Keating Funeral Home property on the Common rotary.

Speaking during the “citizen input” segment of Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Alison Bancroft of Market Street called on board members to withhold a needed municipal conversion permit for the project.

Bancroft challenged assertions that preliminary plans comply with zoning -- even the more relaxed zoning “overlay” adopted to encourage development in the downtown area.

“You as elected officials should deny the municipal conversion permit when it comes before you,” Bancroft said.

Selectmen have scheduled an Aug. 6 public hearing on the so-called conversion permit, which is required in order to sell the town-owned property to Douglas King Builders Inc. of North Easton.

It would be the first of several regulatory hurdles needed for the project to move forward. In addition, the project requires a separate special permit from the Planning Board, as well as an array of permits from the town building and inspections department.

King had been chosen in May to redevelop the half-acre property in conformance with the town’s vision of a mixed-use project embracing both a restaurant and residential use on the site.

King’s plans call for a brewpub operated by Shovel Town Brewery to be located in the old firehouse, along with 19 market-rate apartments and 26 on-site parking spaces. Four of those apartments would be located on the second floor of the former fire station and 15 more in a separate building to be located on the funeral home footprint.

The abandoned funeral home, which was seized by the town years ago for non-payment of taxes, would be razed, along with a rear addition to the fire station.

Noting that several hundred registered voters had signed a petition urging selectmen to reject King in favor of a competing applicant to redevelop the property, Bancroft said the 15-unit apartment building is “not compatible” with the adjacent residential neighborhood.

Bancroft, who lives across Market Street from the former funeral home, has been vocal in her opposition to the scale of the project – and particularly to the proposed 44-foot high apartment building.

She articulated those concerns when applicants presented their plans to selectmen last spring, and reiterated them during two recent work sessions convened by the Planning Board to help refine the preliminary site plan.

In addition to inviting abutters and others living in the immediate area, those work sessions have been attended by members of the Board of Selectmen and Design Review Board.

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