Upcoming town meeting chock full of zoning changes


A new hotel on Royall Street, restaurants and entertainment on Dedham Street and 138, a solar installation on Walpole Street, a Paul Revere heritage site, nine acres of parkland, condominiums, shops, a child care center, even a new roadway — it’s a veritable zoning bonanza, and it’s all on the table beginning Monday, May 11, as part of a highly anticipated and potentially historic 2015 town meeting season.

An architectural rendering of the proposed Paul Revere heritage site, depicting a renovated rolling mill and barn (Source: www.plymouthrubberyes.com)

An architectural rendering of the proposed Paul Revere heritage site, depicting a renovated rolling mill and barn (Source: www.plymouthrubberyes.com)

This year, a total of 13 zoning changes — all requiring a super-majority (two-thirds) vote to pass — have been submitted onto the warrant. Two of those articles, involving a second hotel proposal, are expected to be withdrawn by the applicant on the floor of town meeting, while the two pertaining to the Plymouth Rubber redevelopment, along with five associated (non-zoning) articles, have been rolled into a special town meeting warrant that will commence at the start of the regular town meeting on May 11.

A rare, albeit not unprecedented maneuver, the calling of a special town meeting, in this instance, would allow the town to give its full attention to a project that many believe could change the face of downtown Canton for generations to come — a sentiment also shared by the developer, Canton Holdings LLC.

“The redevelopment plans for the Plymouth Rubber site will completely transform an important piece of land located near the heart of Canton center,” said Bernie Plante of the development team. “We have taken great care to present a smart-growth design that ensures the preservation of historic buildings, addresses environmental concerns, provides community open space, and delivers significant new tax revenue to the town.”

The latest plan for the 35-acre site, which grew out of intense negotiations between the town and the developer, consists of 272 residences, including 212 owner-occupied units and 60 age-restricted apartments for individuals 55 and older. There would also be a total of 27 moderate-income units — although the town would be credited with 72 units toward its state affordable housing percentage — as well as a clubhouse, swimming pool, and playground for residents.

The project also calls for 4,000 square feet of commercial space along Revere Street; a 10,000-square-foot private daycare/kindergarten on the portion of the property abutting Neponset Street; a pedestrian connection to the Canton Junction commuter station; and walking trails and a bike path along Revere Street.

In accordance with the development agreement, Canton Holdings would also cede control of upper and lower Forge Pond and adjacent uplands. In addition, the town would assume ownership of the historic Revere copper rolling mill and barn — which would be renovated at the developer’s expense — as well as roughly 2.2 acres of surrounding land. A separate article, put forward by the Canton Community Preservation Committee, proposes to purchase an additional 6.8 acres of land for $1.74 million, creating a total of nine acres of contiguous open space for use as a public park.

The proposed project would also make use of the state’s District Improvement Financing (DIF) program to fund $6.5 million worth of infrastructure improvements, including the addition of new traffic signals, a new roadway connecting Neponset and Revere streets, dam repairs, and water main improvements.

Under the terms of the DIF agreement, the infrastructure upgrades would be financed through the sale of bonds and ultimately would be paid for using the additional tax revenue generated by the development. However, through various protections built into the agreement at the request of the town, Canton would become responsible for the agreed-upon costs only if the developer completes the project and new revenues generated by the development are sufficient to support the debt service.

According to Paul Schneiders, attorney for Canton Holdings, the town was such great negotiators that the developer is now the one assuming all of the risk. “Frankly, the company is giving an awful lot, but the town has been extraordinary to work with,” he said. “If there’s a risk, it’s on the side of the developer — and that’s a big change.”

Members of the development team said they are thrilled that the project has gotten such widespread support from town officials, including the Board of Selectmen (5-0), the School Committee, Planning Board (4-1), and Finance Committee (9-2).

At the same time, they fully understand that it is the voters who will decide the fate of the project, and they are working hard to educate the public in the weeks leading up to May 11. To that end, they have launched a new website (plymouthrubberyes.com), have become active on social media, and have scheduled three open houses at the site on April 29 (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.), May 2 (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and May 9 (9 a.m. to noon) …

See this week’s Canton Citizen for details on other zoning articles up for consideration at town meeting. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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