The new project, dubbed Island Creek North, would add a total of 238 units. It is a 40B project, which means that the developer can skirt local zoning laws as long as a portion of the units are priced below market rate.

The Mural Room in Town Hall was packed for the Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing Thursday night. The developers pointed out that they had been approached by the Board of Selectmen about expanding. The current development contains 65 percent of the town’s affordable units, and the new proposal would add 55 affordable units.news-islandcreek1

“We’d be doubling Duxbury’s 40B inventory,” said Ed Marchant, a 40B advisor working with the applicants.

The original Island Creek development was built by co-owners John Keith and Thomas Duggan in 1980 after a proposal to build a shopping center on the site, off Tremont Street near exit 10 off Route 3 fell through.  The location had been a gravel pit. There are currently 106 residential units on the site as well as doctor’s offices and other commercial spaces.

Andy Zalewski, architect for the project, described the new project in detail.

The anchor of the new construction will be a four story 94-unit assisted living facility with a wing specifically designed for Alzheimer’s patients.

Several new apartment and condo complexes will be built, along with three new commercial buildings and a second clubhouse, which Zalewski pointed out will be accessible to current residents. He said the commercial buildings will be similar in style to existing structures.

“We’re really maintaining the look and appearance of the site,” he said.

Marchant added that the proposal intentionally keeps the commercial space at a minimum, less than 10 percent of the total project.

Engineer Paul Brogna said the apartment buildings will be taller than traditionally allowed by the town’s zoning bylaws, but said a high berm and trees on the edge of the property will mask the buildings.

“The visual impact from Oak and South Street will be virtually untouched,” Brogna said.

The size of the project also makes a wastewater treatment plant necessary, Brogna added. The treatment plant will be shared with the First Baptist Church, which has an agreement to deed some three acres of land over to the developer. A representative for the church attended the meeting and said they were in favor of the project, and that Island Creek has been a good neighbor.

Traffic engineer Jeffrey Dirk said the current development’s second entrance will be widened. Dirk’s study projects traffic out five years and includes any ongoing developments.

“The volumes are actually down on these roadways,” he said.

The traffic intersection at Route 53 in Kingston as well as the ramps for Exit 10 have a history of crashes, Dirk said, so the developers will be paying for some improvements.

Residents of Island Creek sang the praises of Keith and the other developers.

“It’s a wonderful place to live,” said Anna Wallace, a sentiment echoed by others at the hearing.

“It’s enabled me to stay close to my kids and grandkids,” said Steve McCarthy. “There’s a tremendous need for this in this town ... this has been a godsend for me, and a lot of other people in town need this opportunity.”

Kenneth Beeby of Tinkertown Lane said he was concerned about the visual impact of the site, as well as light pollution from the apartment buildings out over the cranberry bogs that border Island Creek on the Tinkertown side. Another Island Creek resident said he was worried about creating a “rich” Island Creek North and a “poor” Island Creek South.

At the end of the hearing, the Zoning Board of Appeals raised questions as to whether or not the application was complete.

ZBA Chairman Dennis Murphy said the application was one of the most well-organized and detailed he’d ever seen –– except for the final section dealing with review fees.

According to the board’s 2008 rules, dealing with 40B proposals, applicants are required to ante up $2,000 per unit to put in escrow for peer review fees. In Island Creek’s case, that would put the number at over $350,000 –– a figure the developers were unwilling to pay.

“We don’t think that’s a reasonable amount,” said Marchant. “We think the peer reviews expedite the review process, we have no problem with that, we just ask that they be reasonable.”

Murphy said the board was willing to have a discussion about the fees, however, the amount Island Creek has currently paid to the town isn’t enough.

“This isn’t a revenue generating process,” said Murphy, pointing out the town doesn’t keep any escrow money not used. “However, $21,000 is grossly inadequate ... this is not a rubber stamp process. We have a job to do.”

Because the review fees are expected to cost over $25,000, the town is obligated to have the work publicly bid. Murphy offered to have Marchant and his team look at the RFP before it goes out and offer any feedback.

Board member Judith Barrett criticized the timing of the RFP, which hadn’t been seen by the full board, saying it could have been finalized before the meeting.

“I think it’s a little disingenuous,” she said. “We could have been ready to hand over the RFP tonight.”

The board took three votes on Thursday. One was to accept the application as complete, and only Barrett voted yes. By judging the application incomplete, the ZBA does not activate the 180 day deadline in which they have to rule on the application. The board also voted 5-0 to finalize the RFP and give it to the applicants for feedback, and 5-0 to draft a routine letter protecting some of their rights during the comprehensive permitting process.

The heading was continued to Dec. 11, at 7:45 p.m.