Faced with opposition, Yarmouth agency kills Mill Street senior housing proposal

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YARMOUTH — Yarmouth Senior Housing has dropped its plan for a new housing development on Mill Street.

Although there was support for affordable senior housing  in concept, the Mill Street location met stiff public opposition.

Margaret Downing, president of the private, nonprofit corporation that also owns Bartlett Circle, said the proposed development on two acres of town-owned land turned out to be more controversial than Yarmouth Senior Housing expected.

The new development would have added about 25 to 30 apartments for residents 55 years and older. The property is at the end of Mill Street at the edge of the Royal River Park, near Rowe School and close to Yarmouth Crossing.

Downing said the location was chosen for its access to critical services.

But after receiving what she called a lot of negative feedback after the proposal was unveiled at a neighborhood meeting in early October, Downing said the plan is now off the table.

“A small group attended that informational meeting and while the concept of affordable housing was well supported, the site got mixed reviews,” she said. “There was support from some, but others were very strongly opposed.”

Downing said within a few days of the meeting, residents were circulating information via email about the project and distributing fliers at Royal River Park opposing the Mill Street site.

“There was a lot of activity from people who were opposed to using any bit of the park for the project,” she said. “It was about the location.”

Downing said she received one email that indicated there would be litigation if the Mill Street location was pursued. She said Yarmouth Senior Housing decided against going forward with a project that would be a source of such opposition.

“We don’t have the means to defend a lawsuit, we don’t have that money, so we are looking for a new location,” she said. “We will recast our net.”

She said she has asked people to give Yarmouth Senior Housing ideas for other locations, and they are hoping to identify another site as equally suitable and competitive for financing as the Mill Street location.

“I’m optimistic,” she said.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said there have been a few suggestions for consideration, including an addition off the community room at Town Hall or in place of the Yarmouth Community Services modular building.

Other options have included land next to the fire station, space on Forest Falls Drive, a lot at McKearney Village or the Sligo Road Pole Yard, Tupper said.

Downing said Yarmouth Senior Housing is interested in hearing ideas and suggestions from the public and can be reached by calling 829-4354.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter:@amy_k_anderson.