Without a Housing Production Plan, the town is “basically at the mercy of the developer,” said Alexander Whiteside, Planning Board chairman.
The area eyed by Mill Creek is blanketed by trees, with a few clearings where three large houses sit. Those three owners have agreed to sell their land. Sonia Scheller, who resides on the largest of the three properties, declined to comment on her reasons for selling. The other two families could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the neighbors can’t imagine how a 300-unit development could work in that area. They are concerned about traffic, the environment, property values, and quality of life.
Bordering the property is Hemenway Drive, a private road shared by 14 homeowners who are spread out among the woods, which they say are also home to coyotes, wild turkeys, deer, and owls.
Residents on the drive and in the surrounding acres say they bought their properties with the understanding that they would share the space with other single-family homes, not a development with hundreds of families.
“We were under the impression the land would not change,” said Mary Jeanne Langevin, who has lived with her husband, Gene, on Brush Hill Road for more than 16 years.
MassHousing’s site approval or denial generally takes 60 to 90 days. If approved, Mill Creek will apply for a comprehensive permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, opening a public hearing process that could take up to six months.
This is the stage where residents can voice their concerns. Gorstein said “dozens of conditions” are usually imposed on a plan during the zoning board’s hearings.
Emily Files can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.