By Thomas Grillo, Globe Correspondent, 4/19/2003

NORFOLK - Officials in this Charles River town, which collects less than 5 percent of its property tax revenue from commercial enterprises, have been hoping for years that developers would propose projects downtown or on Route 1A. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

''We would love to see almost any kind of commercial development, other than fast food,'' said Joyce Terrio, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen.

Terrio may get her wish. This month, Paul Borrelli, who owns a long-vacant 15-acre parcel next to Town Hall, proposed building 36 condominiums, an assisted living facility, a day-care center, and a pair of office buildings.

The project, proposed under Chapter 40B, the state's antisnob zoning law, would be denser than local zoning laws ordinarily allow - something the state law allows because 25 percent of the units would be classified as affordable.

Part of the site has been sold to another builder, who has plans for a supermarket, restaurant, and bank.

Like many other Massachusetts communities, Norfolk has had a growth spurt. The population has swelled by 13 percent since 1990, straining town services and causing local officials to seek new ways to pay for them.

Since the 1990s, a new Town Hall has been erected - the state helped pay for it, because four state prisons are located in Norfolk - and a $1 million recreational complex was built off Pond Street, with playing fields and basketball and tennis courts. In addition, a new King Philip North Middle School is under construction, and a library renovation is planned.

One of the most talked-about issues is whether the May Town Meeting will approve Norfolk's share of the cost to build a regional high school that would cost up to $48 million and be used by residents of Wrentham and Plainville, too.

In last year's MCAS tests, a majority of King Philips' 10th-graders scored in the proficient and advanced categories of the English and math exams, while 15 percent failed math and 7 percent failed English.

One of the town's biggest attractions is Stony Brook Nature Center Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors can walk along the edge of Teal Marsh for a close-up view of turtles, fish, muskrats, and great blue herons. A variety of birds can be seen at Kingfisher Pond, and there's a butterfly garden and nature center for crafts and wildlife exhibits.

This week, the MLS property Information Network listed 31 single-family homes for sale, starting at $233,500 for a four-room ranch at 10 Hunter Ave. Three homes were priced from $309,900 to $349,999; the rest were listed from $409,900 to $1.5 million.

For condominium buyers, prices started at $380,000 for a two-bedroom town house in a 55-and-older community at 26 Margauxs Way. There were a dozen other condos priced up to $428,700.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 4/26/2003.
© Copyright 2003 New York Times Company
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