Tensions were high as Boylston Properties presented a proposed 40B housing development on 78 Crafts Street to residents of Newton’s Nonantum village Wednesday night.
Chapter 40B is a Massachusetts statute allowing developers to bypass local zoning regulations when building affordable housing developments in certain communities. Boylston Properties is looking to build a 4-to-6-story development on Crafts Street.
Many residents at the community meeting voiced discontent with the proposed development’s aesthetic and cost, while repeatedly expressing concern over the development’s potential impact on traffic.
Janine Stewart, who lives on Adams Street, said the development will add traffic to an already congested road.
“I mean the traffic is insane,” Stewart said. “With 307 units, where are visitors going to park? I mean, they’re all going to start flooding onto all the other streets.”
Jeff Diluglio, who lives on Murphy Court, said he’s concerned the project will cause more traffic accidents.
“Even going down Ashmont Ave … going left onto Watertown Street off of Crafts Street … these are dangerous spots, and there are going to be a lot of accidents,” he said.
Ward 2 Councilor Tarik Lucas agreed that roads are already heavily congested, and added that commuting to and from the development will be a challenge.
“If you ever have to enter or leave that site [78 Crafts Street], in the evening, or even in the early morning … it’s going to be difficult,” Lucas said.
Despite the traffic concerns, Andrew Copelotti, Principal at Boylston Properties, argued the development is beneficial for Newton.
According to the project proposal, the development will have 62 units that are affordable for households at 50 percent the Area Median Income (AMI), while the remaining 245 units will go for market rate.
“We are providing 62 affordable homes for people,” Copelotti said.
When residents asked whether he’d allow preference to current Newton residents for renting the units, Copelotti said he was open to the idea.
“I am more than willing to work with the community to provide those affordable units,” Copelotti said.
While the majority of the attending residents who voiced their opinions were not in favor of the plan, a few expressed support. Resident Gail Deegan said that while she understood the traffic concerns, the apprehension toward the development was unfounded.
“There was a lot of talk about when in Newtonville they were building the two big units on Austin Street and Trio, that everything would come to a halt … and it didn’t,” Deegan said.
While she believes the proposal needs fine-tuning, Deegan said she was confident the development’s financial benefits will outweigh the traffic inconvenience.
“Looking at the big picture, if Newton is to thrive, and we’re to have the revenues we need to do the things we want, we’re going to have to have more economic development,” Deegan said.
Correction (Feb. 2, 2024, 1:05 p.m.): This article was corrected to reflect that Copelotti said “affordable units,” not “affordable gifts.”
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