FOXBORO — Despite strong neighborhood opposition, the zoning board of appeals has approved a 36-unit affordable housing project on Morse Street.
Board members voted 2 to 1 Thursday night for the development at 119 Morse St., which originally was going to involve 52 condominium units. The number had been reduced to 46 and finally 36.
Approval was anticipated as a majority of board members in January had expressed support for the development if the number of condominium units was scaled back from 46.
Board member Kim Mellen was the lone dissenter as chair Barnett Ovrut and member Kurt Yeghian backed the application from 119 Morse Street Realty Trust. Board Vice Chairman David Brown couldn’t vote because he had missed two meetings.
Ovrut, who had had serious environmental concerns with the proposal that he says had been addressed to a large extent, has contended the development is in the town’s best interests, noting Foxboro and area communities need more affordable housing and housing diversity. Yeghian had expressed concerns with traffic, parking and density.
Mellen had many more concerns, having questioned if the proposal detracts from local zoning too much, and successfully persuaded board members to address some of those worries by revising a draft decision that spells out a lengthy list of conditions and waivers that was approved Thursday night.
Revisions included only allowing temporary parking on one side of the road and visitors being limited to parking not more than 48 hours unless otherwise stipulated by a Home Owner Association.
Also, outlined are steps that would have to be taken if contamination was found on the property as construction was being undertaken.
“This decision covers various matters that need to be covered,” Ovrut said. “All the conditions I wanted outside the ordinary ones for any 40b decision have been addressed.”
The development is falling under the state 40b program that allows housing projects to bypass most local zoning if at least 25% of the units are considered affordable.
The town’s consultant, Environmental Partners of Quincy, had helped develop the draft decision.
“It is certainly a fair decision,” said Judi Barrett, the town’s 40b consultant. “I think the conditions are reasonable.”
Barrett, of Hingham, has over three decades experience in planning and zoning and authored the Chapter 40B Handbook for Zoning Board of Appeals.
Residents and others submitted over 100 items — mostly letters — concerning the project.
Neighbors have cite numerous concerns, ranging from the size of the six-acre parcel in the general industrial zone and density of the condo buildings to traffic safety and environmental impact.
Morse Street has no sidewalks, and the site where a nursery has been located is near the Rumford River and conservation land. The site abuts property with a pond and contamination concerns where a former bleachery was located. There has also been flooding in the area.
About two dozen residents attended the session but couldn’t give any more input as the hearing had been closed in February. By the time the decision came down, only about a dozen neighbors remained at town hall.
Neighbors have the option of appealing the zoning decision. They have 20 days to do so once the decision is filed with the town clerk’s office.