Affordable Housing largely dominated the conversation at the Easton Selectmen’s meeting Monday night.
A proposal to build condominiums at 31 Williams St. was revisited, with the Easton Zoning Board of Appeals asking for input from selectmen.
The revised 40B proposal would include 20 townhouse-style condominiums—five of which would be affordable—and 47 parking spaces. While this would be fewer than the originally proposed 28 condominiums with 56 parking spaces, Board of selectmen Chair Colleen Corona, expressed reservations.
“I still have concerns about the neighborhood,” she said, acknowledging that progress was made on the design, but there are still too many units.
After signing a building permit for the Shovel Shop project last year, Easton is currently in the middle of a two-year stay, where the zoning board has the ability to reject or accept proposals that would bring the number of affordable housing units to the state-required 10 percent.
Another proposal to build 37 units—nine affordable—and three retail spaces next to Jim’s Auto Body and across from Langwater Farm on Route 138—244 Washington St.—was presented by Amos Eisenberg, manager of Washington Street LLC.
Eisenberg was asking selectmen to endorse a Local Initiative Project, which would seek to "stimulate the production of affordable housing opportunities by fostering cooperation between municipalities and housing developers. The program provides technical assistance to developers and municipalities seeking to develop housing that serves households at or below 80 percent of the area median income within mixed-income (market and affordable) housing developments," according to the Department of Housing and Economic Development.
There was some discussion with selectmen about whether to add more units and what kinds of businesses might move into the retail slots, but the building would include a gym, a community room, and green space for dog walking, bike racks, and a barbeque area. There would also be three garages that would be rented out for $100 per month.
The selectmen and town administrator David Colton made it clear that having retailers in the building is vital, since the area is commercially zoned.
“A mixed use strategy is appropriate,” said Colton, explaining that the project should balance between serving affordable housing needs as well as adding new businesses that will bring in revenue for the town and create jobs.
“I like the design concept; we need to revitalize 138,” said selectman Todd M. Gornstein.
The board decided to put the proposal on the agenda for the next meeting, where they will vote on whether to endorse the proposal.
CASINO ON THE TABLE
The selectmen discussed another hot button issue—the proposed casino in Taunton.
Acting Director of Community Planning Stephanie Danielson said that the biggest concern about the casino would be the added traffic on Routes 138 and 106 because of accidents occurring on Route 24 “frequently at 44, 140, and 495 during rush hour traffic.”
Danielson said such accidents cause cars to get off the highway and clog roads, a problem that would be exacerbated by an additional 20,000 cars per day and “more inebriated drivers.” She said the impact report addresses traffic issues in Taunton but not the region as a whole.
Murphy asked whether the report took into account a possible slots parlor at the old Raynham-Taunton dog track, which it hasn’t, according Tom Danielson.
“I hope they get it in there because it would be good for the area, but it could cause traffic issues,” he said.
“I hope they don’t get it in there because of traffic,” said Corona.
Among other items on the agenda included:
- The Easton Fire Department swore in two new firefighters, Kyle Lovell and Kyle Riendeau. Fire Chief Kevin Partridge provided updates on the fire department, including the retirement of firefighter James Davey and a second anticipated retirement in the early fall. Also, Firefighter Timothy Vamosi will return from active duty with the Coast Guard.
- Selectmen approved an application for a common victualler license for a new breakfast and lunch restaurant called "The Farmer’s Daughter," contingent on final inspections by inspectional services, the Board of Health, and the Fire Department before a Certificate of Use and Occupancy can be approved. A Title V inspection by the board of health is also required.The restaurant would be at the former location of Main Street Cafe, which shut down earlier this year.
- Selectmen approved the borrowing of BAN’s (short term borrowing) $580,000 for fiscal year 2013, refinancing of bonds from 2002 and 2003 in the amount of $2,670,000, and bonding (permanent borrowing) of BAN’s from fiscal year $5,200,000. The town’s borrowing has consistently been at about seven percent and has earned Easton a AA bond rating from Moody’s Investor Service. “Moody’s has a great deal of confidence, justifiably so, in the town’s ability to borrow money and pay it back,” said Colton.