149-unit apartment complex proposed for Hathaway Road

Oct 20, 2020

Hathaway Road might be going grey, as a new 149-unit apartment complex for residents aged 55 and over could be constructed in the area.

The Planning Board discussed the project proposal with developers and neighborhood residents at a lengthy meeting on Oct. 19, at which many residents expressed dissatisfaction with the plans due to traffic, noise and other concerns.

The new complex would be built on a 113-acre parcel of land east of Slocum Road that extends from Hathaway Road near the Hope Evangelical Community Church up to I-195.

It would comprise 51 one-bedroom apartments and 98 two-bedroom apartments for rental, with a basement parking garage and an additional parking area along with a community building and a swimming pool facility. 

Current plans show 386 parking spaces on the site, according to project engineer Christian Farland, although this number is over requirements and would likely be cut back.

Project developers could not confirm how many, if any, of the units would count towards the town’s affordable housing requirement. 

Rooftop solar panels will also likely be included in the plans, Farland noted, while excess land — mostly wetlands — at the back of the lot may also be given to the town if the land is usable, attorney John Markey stated. 

Farland added that parts of the land “would make nice walking trails.”

In terms of design, Planning Board Chair Lorri-Ann Miller stated that she disliked the long facade of the proposed structure. “I don’t like the length of that building,” she said. “Is there any way to break that up?”

Kennedy St. resident Tom Babington put it more bluntly. “The rendering doesn’t do justice to the ugliness of that project,” he said. “It really doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood. It really looks like the developer is trying to jam in as many units as they can.”

As for traffic, a September study concluded that the facility would add just 50 trips at peak times, according to Phil Viveiros, a transportation project manager who conducted the study. 

This would have a “minimal effect” on the 14,700 vehicles that travel Hathaway Road daily, he said, even taking pre-pandemic numbers into account.

Board member Margaret Sweet — and many of the residents listening in — disagreed. 

“What happens on Hathaway Road, you get a backup from Route 6…that goes all the way almost up to Slocum Road sometimes,” Sweet said. “I think this development is really going to impact that situation.”

Viveiros noted that the state is currently designing a new intersection for Hathaway, Tucker, and State Roads that will likely mitigate backups along the road.

But traffic was still the number one concern for residents.

Hathaway Road resident Dr. Jim Griffith said that he walks on the road as part of his exercise every single day. 

“It is worth your life to get from Hathaway Road to Route 6 as it is. It is a dangerous place,” he said. “I just can’t imagine the risk to life and limb by adding hundreds of vehicles a day.”

“I’m old, so I can say this,” said Geraldine Lopes, a resident of Eisenhower St. adjacent to the proposed project site. “Older people might not be so quick to speed out of the driveway, so they can get out without being hit.”

“I think the traffic flow needs to be looked at a little more heavily,” agreed Kennedy Street resident June Goguen.

Residents Carrie Butler and Paula and Andrew Turner, whose homes overlook the proposed site, requested a tree buffer for privacy and to mitigate noise. “We moved here for the quiet and the peace,” Butler said.

Board members asked developers to look into connecting sidewalks to other residential areas, screening adjacent houses with vegetation, and improving the building’s facade, as well as incorporating some original stone walls into the project, among other requests.

Developers will also have to secure approval from the town’s Conservation Commission as well as a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals and come back before the Planning Board to move ahead with the project.

Farland estimated that once all the permits are in place, construction would likely take 12-18 months.

“Gentlemen, you have some work to do,” Miller said with a smile.