Letter to Zoning Board
Thank you very much for your service to The Town of Pembroke.
I would like to briefly address comments made by Attorney Warren Baker it his attempt to persuade the Board that the current plan differs from the 2005 Mass Housing rejection. As stated by Mass Housing in May of 2017, “MassHousing previously denied Site Approval on the River Marsh site back in 2005. The plan currently proposed is similar in every aspect to the earlier one submitted to us.”
We believe the current plan does little to alleviate the concerns leading to denial in 2005, as well as those reiterated in 2017 appeals by the Town of Pembroke, all Town departments, six State Representatives and countless Massachusetts residents and organizations.
Attorney Baker stresses the reduction of 14% of the units (64 to 56) from 2005 to 2018. What he fails to mention is the rejected plan was an Age Restricted application. This difference is significant on many fronts. Using published averages for persons per household, 56 Non restricted units results in 141 added residents compared to 127 in an age restricted community. In terms of Traffic, Sewage, Town resources, School system impact etc, the current project is larger than that rejected in 2005. (Attachment 1)
Attorney Baker stresses the addition of a second access road. The purchase of 274 Water street through deceptive means (attachment 2), does provide a second entrance to the proposed development, but does nothing to alleviate the immeasurable risks the addition of 56 units creates to the surrounding area. These safety issues are not debated, but rather the Developer states it’s the towns responsibility to fix. Note, in the 2005 rejection, the single entrance was the last and least significant safety concern mentioned by Mass housing. Highlighted were traffic concerns on 139 intersections and Water and Cross streets ability to support added traffic safely. It’s comical that the requirements for safety inside the proposed development don’t apply outside, so Rivermarsh residents will be fine in their 18 acres but can’t safely leave. We’ve gone to houses and businesses up 139 and Water street (The Main Water street) and have heard the same response – that these intersections are insanely dangerous and someone is going to get killed. Enclosed is the typical accident that occurred 2 weeks ago (Attachment 3). It’s terrifying, impacts all residents, and cannot be pushed aside in this review.
Attorney Baker excludes the traffic review from 2005, which I suspect fit the developer’s agenda at the time but is inconsistent with the same firms review today. Despite the current plans expected increase in number of Residents, two Income families and children, the 2005 Traffic study shows higher Trip generation than the current discussion. It makes no sense - the same firm did the analysis – one is wrong. Intentional or not, it highlights the risk of biased opinions and using broad averages. From a safety view, Water Street is a Tail risk at all intersections, and the current proposal creates greater risk than that denied in 2005. 2005 highlights 36-40 peak trips, 440 trips per day, one vehicle every 1 and a half minutes. The importance of which exit they use is insignificant really because they are all equally dangerous, but from a credibility standpoint the report also states “the majority of traffic is expected to travel to/from the east” yet today they seem adamant it will be 50-50 (attachment 4).
This letter is getting longer than I anticipated. It’s very difficult under the current Zoom arrangement to feel like we are being heard. Just look at the 2017 Towns response to see EVERYONEs concerns – Police, fire, Herring, Planning, Health etc – they are all documented, and they are the same. The developer has a history of deceptive practices, yet it seems his word is the one we are hearing the most. The ZBA is aware of other instances with Brian Murphy. The consequences of deceptive practices and actions – of a build first and see if they catch us attitude – at this site are simply too extreme and irreparable.
It remains my belief that in 2005 the project was denied for all the right reasons. Mass Housing evaluated the risks, listened to the Town, and came to a responsible conclusion. Fast forward to 2017, and you have the same developer, similar project, and the same concerns. The major difference is uncomfortable to accept yet true – it was a Buddy/Buddy review process where Mass Housing was intent on passing this project from the beginning, guided the developer throughout (attachment 5), and paid little to no attention to the concerns of the town.
260 Water Street