After a dormant fall and winter that included four postponed public hearings, the Duxbury Crossing 40B project has re-emerged with a different look and a rush by developers to start construction.

 

After a dormant fall and winter that included four postponed public hearings, the Duxbury Crossing 40B project has re-emerged with a different look and a rush by developers to start construction.

On Thursday, the Zoning Board of Appeals held its first public hearing on the proposed development since August of last year. Since that meeting, four scheduled hearings have been postponed for a number of reasons including the submission of new plans.

Last July, developer Charles Tringale filed the plans with the town under the state’s “anti-snob” zoning act that allows developers to bypass most town zoning regulations.

The latest version of the project is considerably smaller, downsizing from 60 townhouse condominium units to 20 on a little over 17 acres of land that spans both Duxbury and Marshfield. All of the units will be built on approximately nine acres of land in Duxbury at the junction of Enterprise and Careswell streets, with the remaining eight acres in Marshfield planned as mostly open space.

In the 20-unit plans unveiled Thursday, there are no age restrictions and five of the units will be designated as affordable and sold for $186,000 each, according to Tringale, with the remaining 15 sold at market rate.

At Thursday’s continued public hearing, Tringale made it clear several times that he expected an expedited hearing process and butted heads with the ZBA on issues ranging from environmental concerns to the public’s access to his site.

The meeting began with only five ZBA members hearing the case, as Gabriel Crocker was not in attendance. Chairman for the hearing, Sally Wilson, asked the applicant if he wished to move forward with five as opposed to six members, saying that if for some reason the board dwindled to four because of sickness or another issue, they would need a unanimous decision by the members to approve a comprehensive permit for the development.

“We are ready to proceed and understand the risk,” said Tringale’s attorney, Robert Devin.

Devin then presented board members with a nearly five-inch thick binder of information he thought would be useful to the board and neighbors viewing the application, including several court cases regarding 40B applications similar to the Duxbury Crossing concept.

During a presentation by Tringale’s surveyor and engineer, Denis Seguin, the board inquired why there was no application being filed with the town of Marshfield. Seguin explained that all the development was occurring in Duxbury and that they would simply be excavating gravel from the Marshfield side to level off some land.

There is still a lingering issue that will have to be addressed later, however, regarding whether or not to include the Marshfield land in calculations that determine restrictions under Duxbury’s aquifer protection district where the property lies.

When the discussion turned to wetlands and vegetation on the property, Wilson inquired about vernal pools, which are seasonal depressional wetlands that are often completely dry for most of the summer and fall, but covered by shallow water during periods of winter to spring. These pools can also be a spot for species of concern or endangered species that call the areas their home.

The status of such pools caused tension between the ZBA and the applicant of the Duxbury Farms 40B project a couple of weeks ago and elicited the same reaction from Tringale’s team.

ZBA James Lampert said he preferred the investigation into this matter to be done during the seasonal period we are in now and didn’t want the applicant be delayed by having to wait until this time next year to do the studies.

Hearing that approval may have to wait another year, Tringale spoke up saying it was his understanding that vernal pools have to be looked at every two years and that his development was nowhere near the area in question. He then indicated to the board that if they were going to use this as a stalling tactic on the project, he’d go around them and right to the state’s Housing Appeal Committee for approval.

“If you’re hanging on vernal pools to stop this processÖforget about it, it ain’t going to happen,” said Tringale. “You might just be telling me to go on to the state from here [because] I heard you say you’d wait on a [determination] on vernal pools for your decision.”

Lampert clarified that he did not want the applicant to lose any time on looking into the matter and Seguin added that this issue would be resolved and wouldn’t take two years.

Tringale and the board clashed later in the hearing after ZBA members requested a site visit to the property to see exactly what they were looking at. Wilson asked if abutters could also attend the visit, and Tringale refused citing liability of someone being injured on the property and suing him and that it is still private property.

“I’ve found that if you invite people once, they feel invited twiceÖand no one should be on that property,” said Tringale. “You can be witnesses, but no one else should be there. I might let them walk after a permit is issued, but until then, the property is private.”

Wilson asked Tringale to confer with his attorney further on the matter before making a final decision.

Nearly half a dozen abutters were present for the hearing, including Enterprise Street resident David Kelly, who said that the project has been “on again, off again” over the last eight months and that abutters had no notice of that night’s meeting to voice their concerns. Devin said if it was the board’s wish, he would notify the 40 or so abutters in Duxbury and Marshfield regarding the next hearing date.

Given the amount of information received by both sides, the ZBA continued the public hearing until May 22 at 7:30 p.m. so they and the applicant could look over the paperwork and so other town boards could also review the new plans.

After the meeting, Tringale explained why the project had been downsized and why it should be approved by the ZBA.

“We actually thought this would be well accepted by the town and it’s a very nice plan,” he said. “This is what affordable housing is all about. They’d be lucky [to have this] here, it’s something I want to do for this community, it’s the best thing to ever happen to the community and I hope they accept it.”