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A real estate project under construction in Morristown sparks controversy

MORRISTOWN, Vermont (WCAX) – A housing project in Morristown that will add more than 100 units to the town is stirring controversy.

City officials and the developer say they are working to ensure the project succeeds while allaying residents’ fears.

Construction is now underway on the site of what Morristown zoning officials are calling the biggest housing project they have ever approved.

“There’s a lot of change, and it’s constant and relentless. And something like that gets a lot of criticism and attention,” said Graham Mink, the project’s developer.

Mink obtained planning permission to build a 136-unit development on August 1 and plans to move some of the buildings in as soon as next year.

“We start now. We hope to be finished and have tenants move in before next winter,” Mink said.

The project has been controversial since its inception, only gaining approval from the Development Review Board with a 4 to 3 vote.

“If you had asked me four years ago if I approved of buildings, five-story buildings, underground parking and a Starbucks and all the other stuff that goes with it, what’s in town right now moment, I would have said, ‘You’re nuts. Morrisville, but we’ve grown faster,'” said Todd Thomas of the Morristown Development Review Board.

Residents who live near the construction site say they believe the project would have a negative impact on traffic flow, aesthetics and the environment.

Morristown Selection Committee Chairman Bob Beeman said he has also received complaints.

“I understand what they are saying. And I saw the same thing. You know, I go there every day. And it certainly is. Admittedly, it seems to be a real estate boom. It happened very quickly,” Beeman said.

But Beeman also says he thinks the addition of housing is something the city can really benefit from, especially given the city’s proximity to beach resorts.

“A lot of people don’t have all the data and say, ‘Look, we don’t need all these apartment buildings. They look terrible. We don’t want them here. But there are waiting lists for the units they build. And as soon as they’re built, there are people moving in, so there’s definitely a need for that,” Beeman said.

City officials are urging residents to attend public meetings to stay up to date on what’s going on and have the opportunity to have their voices heard.