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Officials, residents voice concerns on Upton's Main St. 40B

A rendering of the 60-unit affordable housing building proposed for 47 Main Street. Source:

60 units proposed at 47 Main St. would bring town closer to compliance

By Scott Calzolaio

As the deadline draws nearer for proposed changes to Upton's newest 40B affordable housing development at 47 Main Street, residents and town officials have been voicing their thoughts and concerns with the project.

According to the town website (, the public hearing on the comprehensive permit will close on May 15, and a decision will be filed within 40 days (June 24). The applicant then has 20 days to appeal (July 15).  

In an interview, Upton Select Board member Brett Simas outlined some of the more prevalent concerns with the development. He said one concern is flooding to the surrounding properties, adding that abutters have already had flooding issues for decades. 

“There is a very real concern anytime you disturb the earth, you will change the flow of water,” he said.

Site location of proposed 40B apartment building at 47 Main Street. Source:


According to Massachusetts law, new infrastructure cannot force water onto an abutter's property. Rain, runoff, and stormwater, or sheetflow, are all accounted for in the design of any new structure, he said.

“They account for the water coming from the sky, and they account for the sheetflow,” he said. “But we don’t always know what’s flowing underground, and that doesn’t get accounted for.”

“The more we can stay ahead of things like this, and partner with the developer to point out and be reasonable about these things, the better the outcome will be for everyone,” he said.

During a Select Board meeting in late February, some concern was voiced both from the fire department and residents about the construction of basement units. These units would have required a large retaining wall, raising some of the initial flooding concerns. The issues were addressed by the developer, Lobisser, and presented to the Select Board on March 19. A new site plan was introduced, eliminating the problematic basement units and retaining walls, and reducing the number of units from 68 to 60. 

As safety, flooding, and other essential issues are being worked out, some concerns are focused on aesthetics. 

Simas said that with affordable housing, comes high density. It’s this, he said, that concerns some residents. 

“We need affordable housing, as a society, as a state, as a municipality,” he said. 

It’s his job, he said, to work with these developers, in this case Lobisser, and to make them understand the town’s culture and current needs. 

Simas said, the real question is, “Can we make the building look as nice as possible? Let’s get it to fit in as best as we can, and I think that we can do that.”

An evolution of building renderings shows the structure starting to resemble something that might begin to blend more seamlessly with the surrounding urbanization of the downtown area. 

“I’m very grateful that there’s been some recognition and there’s been some work done to help the building fit into the context of the town,” he said.

A definite upside, Simas said, is that this will drive more foot traffic downtown, feeding the downtown revitalization plan.

“In terms of urban planning, this is as good a location as we’re going to find,” he said.

Simas explained that, though this development is certainly welcome to town, the ultimate motive is to regain control over Upton’s 40B status. After reaching 10 percent affordable housing in town, Upton officials will essentially regain control over the state as to when and where future developments can take place.

The plan, he said, is to meet that 10 percent, and have a housing production plan in place, which will give town officials and residents more autonomy in deciding where future projects go.

Upton needs 297 units to reach the 10% state mandate and is currently at 6.37% (189 units). If the new 40B at 47 Main Street (60 units) is approved, the town would then be at 8.39%, and would need 48 more units to be fully compliant. 

When it comes to the 47 Main Street project, Simas believes that “as a town we’ve done as much as we can and have the authority to, to ensure that this situation is not made worse by this development.”