Town Meeting gives community preservation funds to Littleton Drive housing project, but not Woodland Cove

Apr 25, 2023

Town Meeting on Tuesday, April 25 had two very different reactions to two controversial affordable housing projects, both seeking Community Preservation Act money to partially fund their construction. 

Town Meeting voted 71-40 to give $300,000 to Pennrose’s Littleton Drive housing project in the Swifts Beach neighborhood, but almost unanimously denied $400,000 to Dakota Partners’ Woodland Cove project on Red Brook Road. 

The use of community preservation funds for the Littleton Drive project, which is currently under construction on land that Pennrose has leased from the Redevelopment Authority for 99 years, was met with opposition from local residents.

Amanda Frost said that the project, which consists of 90 units of affordable housing for families and senior citizens, a playground and a community center, would “destroy our quiet, peaceful neighborhood filled with wildlife and families.” 

Other residents expressed reservations about giving Community Preservation Act funds to private companies.

“[Community Preservation Commission funding] is your money and my money and I don’t think it should be used for profit in any situation at all,” said Finance Committee member Dominic Cammarano. 

However, Select Board member Alan Slavin said that the Act makes no distinction between for-profit and nonprofit recipients.

“The amount of money that the town is going to get from tax revenue... far outweighs the money that is going to be spent from [community preservation] funds,” Select Board member Ron Besse said. 

Residents also had questions about the project’s potential strain on the sewer plant, which currently has a moratorium in place on new hookups. Sewer Commission member Sandy Slavin said that the project was approved before the moratorium went into effect, and that the town can handle the amount of water the project will required.

Slavin, and former Select Board member Peter Teitelbaum, praised Pennrose for working well with the town and making a 15-year commitment to manage the Littleton Drive property.

Town officials had much harsher words for Dakota Partners, which is currently building 63 rental units, the majority of them low-income. 

“The difference between the two projects is that when we went to this developer and asked for specific things to happen,” Besse said, “they didn’t grant one of the requests. Not one. We want to have friendly neighbors... As a town, I feel like it was a slap in the face that you’re asking us to give you something, but you can’t give us something in return.”

Local resident Daniel Perdios said that his neighbors put their lives at risk walking on Red Brook Road due to the traffic, a problem which an increase in housing would only make worse.

Lucille Dodson pointed out that Dakota Partners’ study of traffic conditions was done in January, not during the summer when Wareham’s population doubles. 

“Give me a break,” she said. “They do not care one bit about this community, and they need to hear us loud and clear.”