Housing plans at Hawthorne Country Club held up by sewer study

Sep 2, 2023

The future development of the Hawthorne Country Club lot faces another hurdle after it was put up for sale in May. The property caught fire in a suspected arson plot soon after the development plans were announced. Now, the property’s future may be held up by a Department of Public Works study on the Town’s sewer infrastructure and its ability to expand. 

The site at 970 Tucker Road has been under agreement with Toll Brothers, a Fortune 500 luxury development company based in Pennsylvania, for $3 million since May, said realtor Jeff Hathaway of Seaport Realty. 

On May 7, firefighters were called to a blaze at the former country club which damaged most of the building. State fire officials said it was likely “intentionally set” weeks later. State fire officials could not immediately respond to requests for updates on the investigation.

Toll Brothers still wants to develop the property, likely into 55 and older housing. 

However, Toll Brothers is proceeding with caution because the town has communicated strains on the sewage treatment plant. 

The Department of Public Works is currently preparing for a town-wide evaluation of the wastewater collection and treatment system.   

Toll Brothers appear to be waiting for that study to finish before they go through with the deal, Hathaway said. 

“Toll Brothers clearly want the property,” Hathaway said. “The town is basically saying we don’t know if we’re going to issue [a] change of zoning because we don’t know if the sewer treatment plan can handle the number of foundations.” 

With multiple proposals for high density housing developments, the strain on the plant could worsen, causing larger issues for the Department of Public Works

“We are now having problems with the plant,” said Robert Almy, Chair of the Board of Public Works on July 31 at a Select Board meeting. “The problems are not serious enough to draw the attention of regulators, but we are exceeding daily inflow on a regular enough basis.”

Currently the town does not have a moratorium in effect, which would stop new homes and developments from connecting to the sewer system. However, the Zoning Board of Appeals was advised by other town boards and committees to consider the impact different projects will have on the water and sewer system.  

“In summary, we have an old plant with old equipment, and … we are at capacity,” Almy said.

Dartmouth will also be contributing the majority of its American Rescue Plan Act funds for 2024 toward sewer and water infrastructure

The Planning Board has been considering introducing new zoning bylaws for seniors and 55+ housing. Those plans will need to take into consideration the sewage treatment plant and likely won’t be voted on until the Spring 2024 Town Meeting, Town Planner Christine O’Grady said in May.

The Planning Board is working to create bylaws related to different types of housing, said Town Administrator Shawn MacInnis.