Michael Larkin of Larkin Real Estate Group says the project should not exacerbate flooding. Impervious material at the site will be reduced by 15 to 20 percent, he said, and more stormwater management controls will be installed. The goal is for a neutral effect, he said, as well as slowing down the amount of water runoff from the site.
Larkin said the area floods because of the brooks that converge on the downtown, the low elevation of the land and poor drainage. That’s beyond his control.
“But we can try to control as much as we can onsite,” he said. He noted a previous housing proposal had nearly double the number of units.
“I think we bring a lot to the neighborhood,” Larkin said. He believes new housing and more families will benefit downtown businesses and be a positive addition to the neighborhood.
The townhouses would have two or three bedrooms, 11/2 baths and small backyards at an affordable price, said Larkin. Four of the condos would be set aside as affordable housing.
Larkin said his firm would purchase the property from the Elks, pending approval of city permits, and the club would relocate. Larkin hopes to secure an order of conditions from the Conservation Commission and file with the Planning Board in April in order to begin construction by next spring.
Representatives from the Elks Lodge could not be reached for comment.
Community Development Director Karen Sawyer and Conservation Agent Lucia DelNegro both confirmed that historical flooding issues and the proximity to wetlands will be significant factors in whether the project is approved. The ConCom will continue its review of the project on April 9.
DelNegro said only four residents spoke publicly at a recent hearing, but several others were in the audience. Ward 2 Councilor Peter McGinn was among the speakers.
McGinn said he’s still in “fact-finding” mode and can’t commit to supporting or opposing the project.
“It’s clearly a low-lying area,” he said, and he believes the project should be scrutinized closely. He said he isn’t sure of the Elks’ plan for the future.
“Any kind of development that happens hopefully will be neutral or reduce flooding,” he said. “On the right scale, I’m not necessarily opposed to it.”