The deadline to file an appeal of the denial of the multifamily special permit and site plan review for the proposed Rice Pond Village project, which was proposed to have 46-residential units on the 15.4822± acres of land, passed on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. The Millbury Planning Board‘s denial decision was a sound and defensible one based upon the facts presented, most importantly public safety.
The decision not to file an appeal was predicted by the neighborhood, due to the fact that a week prior to the final vote for the proposed Rice Pond Village project, one of the developers, James M. Venincasa, met with the Town Planner, Assistant Town Planner, and Town Manager to preview their conceptual plans for an even higher density ~225 Chapter 40B apartment development, with 56± affordable residential units in four buildings, on the same property, 17 Rice Road in Millbury, Massachusetts. In should be noted that the density increase is by a factor of 6.23 times, from a well established neighborhood consisting of 43 single-family homes to ~268 residential units on a minor road with significant public safety problems.
The next step for the neighborhood and residents of Millbury is to continue to proactively resist any development of an even higher density development that does not adequately address all known public safety issues that is incompatible with the established neighborhood and contrary to Millbury’s Master Plan, including, but not limited to:
- The crumbling road pavement that is insufficient in width (16-feet in spots) to 32-feet in width as specified in Millbury’s Subdivision Rules and Regulations serving 150+ residential units or more
- The two way railroad crossing that is in reality only one vehicle at a time railroad crossing, while bring all railroad assets up to current standards (i.e., railroad crossing gates, signal, pavement alignment, visibility over the railroad tracks, etc.)
- Addressing the steep slope between the railroad crossing and Providence Street (Route 122A)
- Realign the two substandard non-T intersections at both ends of Rice Road, South Main Street and Providence Street (Route 122A)
- Add turning lanes and vehicle stacking areas on both sides of the railroad crossing, especially southbound and northbound on Providence Street (Route 122A)
- Address the poor stormwater management on Rice Road, whereas water pools in the road surface and its gutter
- Reduce the grade change from near the peak of Rice Road near the intersection of South Main Street and the road surface of South Main Street (3± foot difference)
- Installation of a 5-foot sidewalk with 3-foot grass strip between the Rice Road and the sidewalk
It should be noted that other immediate neighborhood roads are currently 25± feet in pavement width, while Rice Road is only 16-feet in pavement width in spots for a cut-through road with a higher traffic volume than Thomas Hill Road, Aldrich Avenue, and Captain Peter Simpson Road.
The neighborhood‘s resolve remains strongly opposed to any development of the combined property owned by the Rice Pond Realty Trust (the trustees being John Antaya and Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian) and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust (the trustee being Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian) that is not responsible or in harmony with the existing neighborhood, or that is detrimental to our quality of life and property values. The neighborhood is more than willing to continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure our concerns, most important public safety, are addressed for the best possible outcomes for all stakeholders. Any development should be an asset rather than a liability.