Plumtree Road parcel to be apartments

SUNDERLAND — The owner of 67 acres on Plumtree Road said he hopes to start developing the land for apartments within a year and a half.

Co-owner Gerard N. Aubrey of Holyoke said the land “will be developed at some point.” Aubrey, a certified public accountant, said he and co-owner Paul Boudreau of South Hadley are working with a consultant to develop plans for an apartment complex. Aubrey would not say who the consultant is. He also would not comment on the group’s specific plans, but said the comprehensive permit allows 150 apartments.

The development of the property has been a point of contention for at least six years while the town fought in court with the former owner Scott Nielsen of Sugarbush Meadow LLC. Officials have argued the town doesn’t need more low-income housing given the amount of apartment projects that exist already but the state granted Nielsen a so-called comprehensive permit to facilitate the project, contending the town does not have enough low-income housing, according to the state’s definition.

Last January, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Nielsen may build his proposed five three-story buildings on the property for affordable housing and ordered the local Zoning Board of Appeals to give the developer a comprehensive permit for 150 apartments it had denied.

After the judgment, Nielsen sold the property to Boudreau and Aubrey’s newly formed company, Bourey LLC, for $880,665.

Aubrey said a consultant will meet with the town to discuss plans.

The town hasn’t met with the developers since last summer. At the time, the two parties agreed to reconvene negotiations in the spring, Sunderland selectmen’s Chairman Scott Bergeron said.

“We’d like to work toward an equitable conclusion,” Bergeron said.

The developers need several other permits before developing — none of which they have applied for at the town level yet. Other required permits include state wetlands, water wells, wastewater disposal and access to a state highway. It also needs approval from Mass. Housing, a not-for-profit public agency that uses bonds to provide financing for developers of affordable housing.

Since 2006, the town has dealt with the property’s pending development when Sugarbush Meadow filed a permit under Chapter 40B to build an apartment complex for affordable housing. The local Zoning Board of Appeals denied the application in January 2008, setting of the court appeals.

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