How Did We End Up Here

Rice Pond Village, the website, not the proposed development, is one of many continuing and coordinated efforts of neighbors working together to mitigate any potential negative impacts due to a proposed multifamily development with a project address of 17 Rice Road in Millbury, Massachusetts, owned by the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust.

The Timeline

In 1961, James F. McLaughlin and Maureen McLaughlin purchased 4.12± acres of land that contained a single-family house to raise their growing family of six children: Patricia (McLaughlin) Antaya, Timothy McLaughlin, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, Sean McLaughlin, Kelley (McLaughlin) Ziccardi and James McLaughlin.

In 2005, the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Patricia (McLaughlin) Antaya’s husband, and Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian purchased 11.97± acres of land that adjoins the property owned by the mother-in-law and father-in-law of John Antya and parents of Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian.

In 2018, Maureen McLaughlin sadly passed at 87 years old.

In 2020, the original 4.12± acres of land was subdivided into four separate single-family house lots, with the McLaughlin family home being one of the four. The subdivision was approved by the Millbury Planning Board. Each of these four lots are salable and buildable lots with municipal water and sewer available to them.

In 2020, James F. McLaughlin sadly passed at 90 years old.

Their “Plan”

In 2021, it seems to be common knowledge that the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust, entered into a purchase and sales agreement with Steven F. Venincasa, a developer, who is doing business as Whitney Street Home Builders, LLC and many other business names as well, for the combined total of land of 16.09± acres, with frontage on Rice Road and South Main Street, with the Providence & Worcester Railroad (now owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc., an American short line railroad holding company, that owns or maintains an interest in 122 railroads in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom), an active railroad that directly abuts the northeastern side of the property, a major power easement that bisects the property, Rice Pond and associated wetlands.

The 16.09± acre property consists of five parcels of land with an existing single-family residence (the McLaughlin home), two car garage and a pool, at 17 Rice Road in Millbury, Massachusetts.

Steven F. Venincasa, doing business as Whitney Street Home Builders, LLC, and his engineer, James Tetreault of Azimuth Land Design, LLC, have proposed obliterating the McLaughlin children’s childhood home, garage and pool; constructing a private road (or driveway as it is also referred to) off of Rice Road between 11 and 19 Rice Road, building 52 condominium units in 26 duplexes that will contain an undisclosed mix of 2 and 3 bedrooms, making a walking trail and building a dog park; in a well established neighborhood of 43 single-family homes whereas the majority of the homes have existed since 1961± and one or more historic home(s) that are believed to date back to the 1800s when Rice Road was referred to as Sawmill Road.

It should be noted that there are two lots, that are a part of the 16.09± acres that have been omitted from their plans, that are intended to be sold or developed as single-family and multifamily dwelling lots. These lots are next to 11 Rice Road and 19 Rice Road.

Neighborhood Consensus

Neighbors have clearly articulated their significant concerns to the Millbury Planning Board, to the developer and to his engineer, in person, in writing, and at all of the public hearings, which include, but are not limited to:

  • The proposed plans to “over build” the property with 52 condominium units in an established neighborhood that contains 43 single-family homes is an inconsistent use and is not in harmony with the surrounding properties;
  • The increased traffic volumes on a minor access road that currently is in poor condition, has poor sight lines and significant safety issues will likely decrease the functionality and efficiency of the minor access road and increase wait times at intersections;
  • There are already significant issues with Rice Road, a variable width two lane road that only permits a single vehicle at a time to cross over the railroad crossing, where the railroad crossing gates have been removed, and there are no sight lines whatsoever at two key points in the road;
  • The Rice Road and Providence Street intersection has an impossible turn from Providence Street (Route 122A) southbound onto Rice Road;
  • The Rice Road and South Main Street intersection is confusing and only permits one vehicle at a time near the apex of the hill due to the narrow width and vehicles entering from South Main Street on the wrong side of the road;
  • With an active railroad and the plans to basically clearcut the property of existing trees and natural vegetation, and reduction of the existing terrain, that currently acts as a natural noise buffer which will be eliminated and common sense says it will likely amplify the noise from railroad operations and road traffic noise from Providence Street (Route 122A); trains currently pass throughout the day and into the late night and early morning hours in consistent windows of 9:00-10:00 PM, 2:00-4:00 AM and 5:00-6:00 AM and the frequency may increase due to a development just over the Sutton town line by UN1F1ED2 Global Packing Group of their 1,000,000-1,500,000 square foot production warehouse plans which is anticipated to be submitted to the Town of Sutton’s Planning Board in the Fall of 2021;
  • The developer design plans include the construction of a number of dwelling units, decks, bulkheads, and extensive grading within the 100 foot wetlands buffer zone; and
  • There are privacy concerns from direct abutters who’s backyards abuts the proposed project site.

Our Conclusion

As previously articulated, neighbors fully agree that the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust, do have the right to develop their combined parcels of land in full compliance with Millbury’s Zoning Bylaws without the need for a special permit. However, any development proposed should be harmonious with the well established neighborhood of 43 existing single-family households on Rice Road, Thomas Hill Road, Aldrich Avenue and Captain Peter Simpson Road as well as the other 30± surrounding residences on South Main Street, Curve Street, Jackie Drive and Providence Street (Route 122A) and the overall consensus of the existing residents is that their proposed multifamily project is most definitely not harmonious with its surroundings and therefore incompatible.

The strong opposition to the proposed Rice Pond Village project has nothing to do with NIMBY. In fact, the neighborhood agrees that the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust, have the right to develop their property in a responsible and neighborhood appropriate manner, meaning any development is in harmony with the surrounding properties (i.e., single-family houses).

References

Proposed Rice Pond Village Site Plan of Plan v1

Application for Special Permit

Certificate of Ownership

Development Impact Statements

Drainage Report

Elevations of Proposed Duplexes

Project Cover Letter

Traffic Impact Study


NIMBY, an acronym for the phrase “not in my back yard”, or Nimby, is a characterization of opposition by residents to proposed developments in their local area, as well as support for strict land use regulations. It carries the connotation that such residents are only opposing the development because it is close to them and that they would tolerate or support it if it were built farther away. The residents are often called Nimbys, and their viewpoint is called Nimbyism.