Summer Street project developers withdraw

The proponents behind a 156-unit housing development off Summer Street suddenly withdrew the project Monday night following more than two hours of comments, questions, and criticisms from the public.

Karsten Company President John Iredale said he did not feel he’d be able to garner the four votes required to approve the needed permits.

Only four members of the Planning Board were eligible to vote on the proposal; board Chairman Wayne Smith recused himself due to a business conflict.

Karsten was looking to build 156 apartment units in four buildings on more than four acres between the MBTA commuter rail station and Summer Street. It would have been built in the town’s Transit Oriented Development zoning district, which allows for denser construction to serve those who take public transit.

Opponents had raised a number of concerns during the nearly 18-month review process, particularly around traffic. Summer Street is an increasingly popular cutthrough for vehicles traveling between Route 58 and Route 18, with more than 7,000 cars and trucks using the roadway daily. The proponent’s own traffic analysis determined the Route 18/Summer Street intersection is already a failing intersection due to the amount of time it takes vehicles to make it through. The project would have added almost 800 vehicular trips in and out of the property every day, and increased the number of cars and trucks using the Route 18/Summer Street intersection by 2 percent.

Neighbors also raised concern about the amount of water the project would require, and if it would add more kids to the town’s school system.

Abington Fire Chief John Nuttal again said he was concerned that the number of larger commercial and residential developments happening around town would strain his department’s ability to properly respond.

In asking for permission to withdraw the project, Iredale cited comments made by Planning Board member Jeff Rangel, who said earlier in the meeting he was starting to question the benefits the project would bring to the town.

Disclosure: The author of this article is a member of the Abington Planning Board.

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