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Traffic Engineer: Proposed Canter Brook Housing Will Not Cause Backups

The traffic impact of 43 units of senior housing on the Canter Brook Equestrian Center property in Hamilton underwent review this week.

The additional traffic created by the proposed 43 unit senior housing complex planned for the site of won’t mean that turning lanes will be needed on Asbury or Highland streets, the project's traffic engineer said on Tuesday.

And the average daily traffic going in and out of the development on a weekday will be about 5 percent of the total traffic on those two streets right now, according to Jeffrey Dirk, a traffic engineer with Vanasse and Associates, Inc. who was hired by the developer of the project.

Traffic in all of Hamilton is increasing by about 1 percent annually, he said.

The planned project is the first proposed under the town’s relatively new senior housing bylaw and it continued to be reviewed during a public hearing before the Hamilton Planning Board on Tuesday night.

“It’s very much what we expected,” Hamilton Planning Coordinator Marcie Ricker said in an interview, about the expectations of the projects that would be proposed when the bylaw was proposed and approved.

If approved as currently proposed, the Canter Brook project will comprise nearly half the 100 units allowed townwide under the bylaw, which expires in May 2013 unless extended by Town Meeting.

The plan needs the approval of four of the Planning Board’s seven members, Ricker said.

The project will also have to undergo Conservation Commission review because it is proposed to be within a wetland buffer zone. And the Board of Health will have to review the plans for the septic system. If more than 15 percent of the site is proposed to be covered by an impervious surface, it will need a permit from the Zoning Board of Appeal, Ricker said.

The project has been undergoing a review by the Planning Board since August 2010. Neighbors from both the Sharon and Bradford roads neighbors and Gail Avenue have attended many of the meetings, asking questions and providing feedback.

Ricker said in an interview that as many as 30 residents from Bradford and Sharon Roads – which is to the south of the property - and about six from Gail Avenue – which is to the east - have attended previous hearings.

There were 12 people in the audience at Tuesday’ night’s hearing, that lasted slightly less than an hour.

The development is planned for a 14-acre site – 11.5 acres are developable – that sits between Highland and Asbury streets and currently home to Canter Brook Equestrian Center.

If approved, the project would “widen the diversity of the housing stock” in Hamilton, Ricker said.

“I think it will be a great opportunity for people to sell their homes and stay in Hamilton,” she said.

The project will be made up of a mix of “flats” and townhouse style units that will have a neo-traditional 1900s look,” Ricker said, with the main, two-floor community building having a “shingle, estate-style” look.

As proposed, the project would likely pay between $220,000 and $290,000 in taxes annually, Ricker said.

A traffic study was the focus on the board’s review on Tuesday.

Dirk said his traffic calculations did not take into consideration that the new units will be restricted to residents 55 years old and up.

“With many of these age-restricted communities, they still go to work, especially these days,” he said.

An average of 4,000 cars travel Highland Street each weekday, while 2,000 travel on Asbury Street, Dirk said, based on the company’s research.

The new homes would add 310 vehicle trips to both roads on an average weekday, he said.

“You’d have no more than 10 vehicles added per hour to any of the roadways,” he said.

Dirk said he also considered whether turning lanes would be needed at either of the entrances, either on Highland or Asbury streets.

“The queues are negligible,” he said, a factor that is considered when determining if new turning lanes should be constructed.

He also said the sight lines at the two proposed entrances exceed safety requirements based on the speed of cars measured on both roads.

Rick Tavares, a Hamilton attorney who is handling the project application, said the road through the neighborhood will be a private road, which can be used to help alleviate concerns from neighbors that a new roads through the neighborhood would be used as a cut-through.

The owners could post a sign saying it is a private road – it is preliminarily named Longmeadow Way - for residents and visitors only.

“There are some additional controls that are not available on Sharon Road,” he said, making reference to time limitations placed on that neighborhood to prevent rush hour cut-through.

Dirk assuaged fears that students headed to and from would use the senior housing neighborhood as a cut-through.

He said the new roads could be designed to discourage cut-through traffic by coming up with road geometry “so it’s not a straight shot.”

The Planning Board’s review of the project continues with a public hearing on April 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the , in front of the public safety building on Bay Road. The board also plans to hear a technical review of the plan by an engineer hired by the board, but paid for by the developer, when it meets on May 10.

In mid-February, the developer signed a waiver granting the board another 90 days to continue its hearings and deliberations.

“We’d like to see input from everyone in town,” Ricker said.

Carol A Mazzetta April 13, 2011 at 09:44 PM
What will be the cost of these units?
Robert Gates (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Carol, they haven't announced the prices yet, by the total tax bill calculation is based on prices between $300,000 to $400,000 per unit. But the project has been compared to Caldwell Farms in Newbury, where the two units on the market there right now are priced at $634,000 and $659,000. It also bears noting that half the units at the Canter Brook property are planned to be 1,300 square feet or smaller, while the two Caldwell Farms units for sale right now are 2,500 square feet and 3,400 square feet each.
gail guittarr April 15, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Caldwell Farms (Berry Construction) is a successful venture. Many units offer finished space below grade with a walk out basement. Will this be an option for additional sq. footage? Price point is critical going forward considering recent sales at Village of W. Gloucester, The Maples and The Boulders. Gail Guittarr-Coldwell Banker Residential Bfrokerage

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