2011 Review: The year in housing

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Although the real estate market continued to stumble over the past 12 months, some of the year’s biggest storylines revolved around major housing developments, including two controversial projects that found new life after facing years of opposition from abutters and town officials.

A visit to Balancing Rock, also known as Pulpit Rock. Photo by Eliot C. French, 1912. (Courtesy of the Canton Historical Society)

This past November, Canton developer Pat Considine scored a major victory when the Planning Board approved his 28-lot “flexible” subdivision plan off Village Gate Road and Wayside Lane. In exchange for the approval, Considine agreed to donate over 30 acres of open space to the Conservation Commission as well as a small parcel to the Historical Commission that would guarantee protection of Balancing Rock, a geological and historical treasure that is believed to be part of a sacred site predating the arrival of Europeans in New England.

The approval came just seven months after the Planning Board had deadlocked on the proposal, prompting Considine to file suit in land court, which later remanded the case back to the board for additional consideration.

Meanwhile, another project on the east side of town, a 196-unit apartment complex proposed by New Jersey-based Roseland, inched closer to the construction phase after a seven-year court battle with the town. Having exhausted all legal options, town officials spent the past year negotiating various conditions with the developer, the bulk of which have since been finalized.

Of course, not all developers had success in 2011. The most notable example was Napleton, whose proposed rezoning of the Plymouth Rubber property was rejected at annual town meeting for the second time in four years. This time the developer surprised voters with a last-minute proposal that included 397 residential units and 50,000 square feet of retail space. The move did not sit well with town officials or voters, however, and the project was soundly defeated even after the developer offered an assortment of conditions.

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