Principals from Taurus Investment Holdings held an informal meeting with residents to present detailed plans for their proposed NOVO Riverside Commons housing development, a 200-apartment complex planned for Baker Avenue in West Concord.
Of the 200 apartments, 51 are slated as “affordable,” or available for low-income tenants. The so-called 40B development will also be built without the use of fossil fuel, in compliance with the state Department of Energy Resource’s demonstration project for new buildings or major renovation projects. The development will provide new housing opportunities within walking distance of the center of West Concord and the West Concord MBTA Commuter Rail station, according to information provided at the meeting.
Taurus bought the property along Baker Avenue Extension in 2020. Plans call for two five-story apartment buildings bordering a small pond.
NOVO’s plan shows a walking trail alongside the pond to the edge of the property. There is a plan in its beginning stages for a pedestrian bridge over the Assabet River that would link the NOVO path to the train station in West Concord.
A chorus of traffic complaints bubbled up from those around Randy Hart, principal at the engineering company, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.
Ginger Lang said she had to leave by 6:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. appointment due to the usual backups from Route 2, Baker Avenue Extension, the trains, and the intersection of Main Street and Baker Avenue in West Concord.
“It’s the everyday pattern,” said Lang.
Mike Mahoney, a board member at Concord Greene, agreed, saying the addition of 200 families to the crowded nexus of roads will make travel impossible.
Hart said the project is designed to be pedestrian friendly, with residents driving at off-peak commuting hours.
Moira Walsh lamented that there were no open spaces for children on the existing plan.
“There are no amenities that I can see,” said Walsh. “These are homes; the tenants will be part of our community. Children need a place to play.”
NOVO representative Kevin Hurley urged Walsh to put her concerns in writing and submit them to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which will determine compliance with zoning regulations.
Dan Holmes, one of Taurus’ owners, said the apartment buildings will be tied into the existing sewer line that handles the Residence Inn and the 300 Baker Avenue offices. He said more parking than now exists would be accommodated via a multi-story garage in back of the Vanguard medical office building along the street.
Planning Director Elizabeth Hughes said the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a special public hearing meeting dedicated to the NOVO project on October 26 at 7 p.m. in the Harvey Wheeler Community Center.
“The applicant will be making their initial presentation to the Board and the Board will begin to take public comment,” Hughes said. “Citizens can go to the dedicated NOVO webpage to view all the plans and information that has been submitted to date. Letters can be submitted to the Board by mail or in-person to the Planning Division at 141 Keyes Road or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”