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Conservation Commission meeting set for Nov. 16

Mile Oak Associates provided this overview of the potential layout of the neighborhood they would like to develop. Their complete proposal, with maps and drawings, is available to view at the Conservation Commission office. Reminder submitted photo
By Debbie Gardner

PRIME Editor

WILBRAHAM Developers Mile Oak Associates will present their proposal to construct a 218-unit age-restricted residential community on the Stony Hill Road site of the former Oaks Farm at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Conservation Commission.

The public hearing on this proposal will take place beginning at 7 p.m. at the Wilbraham Middle School. A 120-page report and numerous maps and drawings detailing the project are available for public inspection in the offices of the town Building Department.

Mile Oak Associates has already sent out a brochure outlining their proposed project to 200 surrounding residents.

The proposed development

"We're proposing what we call an active adult community of 218 residences," Neil Geary, owner's representative and director of development for Mile Oak Associates told Reminder Publications. "The size of the parcel is about 76 acres and about 46 percent of that will be open space for the residents of the new community."

The property is co-owned by Kent Pecoy of Kent Pecoy and Sons Construction, Jerry Gagliarducci, owner of Gagliarducci Construction, and Glen Garvey, owner of the Garvey Group. Pecoy, Gagliarducci, and Garvey are all residents of Wilbraham.

The men purchased the Stony Hill Road land, formerly known as Oaks Farm, from the Corriveau family, which had owned the parcel since the 1930s.

Geary said the homes Mile Oak Associates are proposing to construct on the site will be condominiums. Residency will be restricted to adults of a certain age. The community will be named Cedar Ridge of Wilbraham.

"The bylaws indicate one resident has to be 55 [years of age] or older, no children under the age of 18 are permitted and [there can be] no more than three residents per household," Geary said.

Environmental concerns

"We've been working with a particular state agency called the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, [a part of the Division of Fish and Wildlife] since the beginning of the year and we've conducted a thorough study of the species of concern in that area," Geary said.

Geary said the species in question are a type of turtle and a type of salamander.

"They are not endangered, they are a species of concern," he said. "We've worked with this agency to preserve the natural habitat of the species concerned."

Geary said the preserved habitat incudes over 17 acres of land surrounding a white cedar swamp, which is both a part of and adjacent to the property under discussion.

"This is a real area of concern to people in this area," Geary acknowledged. "Both to abutters and to townspeople who use some of the land in that area."

Geary also told Reminder Publications that the project development team has also addressed questions about the wet meadow at the center of the property.

"We've devised a creative approach to minimizing the impact to the area while adding an educational component for the residents of the new community," he said.

In addition, Mile Oak Associates arranged to have a team from UMass perform an archeological survey of the property.

"It's fine with them," he said.

Potential community impact

Geary said the Cedar Ridge community is designed to minimally impact the infrastructure of Wilbraham, while potentially providing substantial tax revenue.

"The whole community will be a private community in that the roads and the infrastructure [such as] sewer lines and storm water management will be maintained by the [Cedar Ridge] Association, not the town" he said.

Because of the age-restricted nature of the community, this development also will not impact the schools in the way a traditional subdivision would, he said.

And, he said, at completion, the Cedar Ridge development has the potential to increase tax revenue for the town.

"Fully built, our current plan would provide about $1 million in revenue with a minimal impact on town services," Geary said.

Traffic concerns

Geary acknowledged that there is a problem with traffic on Stony Hill Road at peak travel times, specifically with cars turning on to Dipping Hole Road during rush hour.

"Part of our plan is to make improvements to Stony Hill Road to handle the increase in traffic and to fix a current problem that exists there," he said.

Geary also told Reminder Publications that Mile Oak Associates is willing to meet with any individual or group that expresses a concern about any part of the proposed development.