August 9, 2020
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Old Morgan Application Goes to IWC Public Hearing

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The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) will hold a public hearing to discuss potential impacts to the wetlands on an application to develop the old Morgan School property. The hearing will be on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The application from Greylock Property Group was received at an IWC meeting on Jan. 7 after a site walk conducted by the commission on Jan 4. After accepting the application, the IWC had to decide whether or not a public hearing was needed for the application. The IWC had two options: to declare the proposal qualified as a significant wetland’s activity, or decide that the public interest in the proposal was substantial enough to warrant a public hearing.

The applicant and commission members agreed that a public hearing was in order due to the public interest, though they disagreed on whether the application qualified as a significant wetlands activity.

“We believe this is less intense, but we certainly would agree with the commission for a public hearing,” said Bill Sweeney, a land use attorney for the applicant.

The applicant noted that a previous application for a similar proposal on the site was not deemed a significant wetlands activity, and that it was proposing no activity in the wetlands this time.

However, the commission felt that due to the large scale of the project, the fact that the town currently owns the property, and the proximity of the development to the wetlands that it should qualify as a significant activity. The commission voted 5-1 to deem it one. The commission asked the applicant to provide more details on the hotel structure that will be built as part of the proposal and the impacts that could have on the adjacent wetlands.

At the hearing the public will be able to speak in favor, against, or in general about the application. Per its charge, the IWC can only decide on an application’s merits in terms of any potential impact to the wetlands. Should the application be approved by the IWC, the application would then appear before the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC), which can judge an application on a wider variety of issues. An application for the PZC to review is expected to be filed in the land use office soon.

If the application is approved by the IWC and the zoning commission, the old high school will be turned into Indian River Landing, a mixed-used development consisting of retail, restaurants, and a hotel.

The application and drawings filed in the town’s land use office note that the plan calls for nine buildings to be built on the 37-acre property. The plans call for four restaurant spaces, five retail spaces, a 55,150-square-foot grocery, and a 14,021-square-foot hotel with 100 rooms. The application estimates a start date of May 2020 and a completion date of October 2022.

In late 2018, residents approved the $2.2 million sale of the old high school to Greylock Property Group. Since that time, the developer has conducted test work on the site as it prepared for the application process. That preparation included a successful petition to subdivide within the property’s zone to allow for smaller wastewater systems and an agreement with the town to split the remediation costs of discovered asbestos on the site.

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