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Health Board and Water Company Want “40B” Apartments Delayed During Drought

The Board of Health and the privately-owned Milford Water Company joined forces on September 12 to say that the proposed 300-unit Robsham Woods apartment complex – to be built under the state's so-called Chapter 40B affordable housing regulations – should be delayed until the area's drought is over and a larger water supply is available.

Board member Kenneth Evans asked David Condrey, manager of the Milford Water Company, very specifically if Condrey could state that the company cannot supply water to the proposed apartment complex. "I could say it," Condrey replied. "At this point, I don't have the water."

That statement contradicts Condrey's memo to the town over the summer stating that the utility would have no problem supplying water to the proposed development. And, in a recent, undated memo to Town Administrator Richard Villani, Condrey wrote: "The 40B project demands during the drought conditions we are currently experiencing would place an additional burden on the system but can be managed with sound conservation efforts." The same memo later stated: "The capacity is there for this project but will definitely impact any further projects or developments proposed going forward."

At Evans' urging, the board voted to send a letter to the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing) – which recently deemed the proposed 119.9-acre East Main St. site as "generally eligible" for the development – asking MassHousing to delay its final approval until the drought ends and water supplies are restored to higher levels. In addition, the letter will ask the agency to mandate that only low water-use landscaping similar to that planted at the Walden Woods condominiums be installed and also to request that the developer be prevented from converting the apartments to condominiums that then would require town services. The letter also will go to the town's Zoning Board of Appeals, which is the local government body that would consider any Comprehensive Permit application for an affordable housing proposal.

The board asked Condrey to attend its meeting to explain why the utility initially said it could supply water for the proposed development at a time when Milford residents are under severe water use restrictions. Condrey said that – based on a full water supply and the 3.4 million gallons per day maximum the state allows the utility to distribute – he could supply water based on the 62,000 to 86,800 gallons per day estimate provided by developer Eden Management, Inc. of Waltham. "Obviously, in drought conditions, we're not going to pump that," he said. "Under normal conditions, it's not an issue," Condrey added. "I have plenty of water under normal conditions."

Evans said the lack of an adequate water supply "would affect the health of the community." Health Officer Paul Mazzuchelli said that gives the board a say in backing up the Milford Water Company's request to delay the project. Condrey also noted that – if Robsham Woods is built and a future drought occurred – the development's water consumption could cause all customers to endure water use restrictions. To prevent that, his company probably will have to restrict the development's overall water use to certain number of gallons per day.

He noted the company still is waiting for "fire flow" information from Eden Management that will further determine how much water pressure is needed to supply the apartment complex.

Condrey noted that if the Milford Water Company notified MassHousing that it could not supply any water to Robsham Woods, then it also would have to stop providing any new connections for any other construction in town.


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