Proposed ‘Residences at Thoreau’ runs counter to community values

March 11, 2024

An application was filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals to construct a 216-unit development on the wooded open space known as Camp Thoreau off Forest Ridge Road in West Concord. The “Residences at Thoreau” application was submitted as a “40B project.” Under law, 40B projects are allowed if the town has under 10% of its housing inventory allocated for affordable housing. Concord is currently at 9.97% with several finished units awaiting classification, which would place us over 10%. Despite these frustrating statistics, housing would be welcomed at this site if appropriately scaled and reflective of the values of our community. This proposed project is neither. 

Information presented at the public hearing on February 29 and in the application indicate that the scale and potential impacts on the community are troubling. The massive three-story structure and extensive paved parking areas and roadways would occupy over 70% of the open space adjacent to town conservation land and the historical Powder Mill Woods trail.

In addition to the inappropriate scale and location, the project as described to date contains no sustainability features, will result in the removal of hundreds of mature trees, and will replace open space with asphalt pavement and concrete structures. Disturbingly, the applicant has requested ten waivers of town bylaws, including laws that protect groundwater, limit parking areas, and exclude the use of oil and gas in new construction. Unknown impacts of both sewage treatment and stormwater discharges are equally concerning. 

Impacts of increased traffic on Forest Ridge Road and Main Street also present many potential traffic and safety problems. 

In total, this seriously flawed project flies in the face of community values. Although this project likely cannot be stopped under Chapter 40B, it should be strongly opposed by Concord residents, the ZBA, and either extensively modified or the application withdrawn. 

Paul D. Boehm 

Ridgewood Road