PLYMOUTH, MA-After five years, the largest planned community in the state, the Pinehills, is going up here, about 45 miles out of Boston. The development is being built on over 3,000 acres of land here and involved a collaboration of three parties to get it off the ground.

Tom Green, a home builder, the New England Development Company, a retail developer, and Tom Wallace, a local real estate investor are the three parties that make up Pinehills LLC, the body that owns and is developing the land here, according to reports published in the Boston Herald. The group helped to create the new zoning model that enabled them to build the community. “It required many zoning changes,” John Lenox, director of planning and development for the town, tells “It was a long process but at this point they have all the zoning in place.”

Digital Equipment purchased the land in 1981 with the intention of developing research and development space and a corporate training center on the property, the Herald said. But the decline of the minicomputer business forced the company to abandon those plans. “When it became clear that Digital was not going to be doing anything, there was support from the town for doing a different type of development,” notes Lenox.

The property was zoned for about 1,800 single-family homes but Lenox says that the town wanted to get away from that conventional kind of planning. Also, a large solely residential complex would put a real strain on town services, especially the school system. What’s different about this development, notes Lenox, is that “essentially they’re creating a new town in the middle of the largest town in the Commonwealth.” According to the Herald, the zoning is known as Open Space Mixed Use Development which was created to allow clusters of development to be surrounded by open space. The commercial space will run in a 2,000-foot arc around the nearby Route 3 interchange.

When the project is completed–in about 12 years–it will include 2,834 homes, a 178-acre neighborhood center with 1.3 sf of commercial and retail uses, including a conference and resort hotel and up to four golf courses, the Herald said. Lenox also points out that nearly a third of the property will be used as open space–a definition that includes the golf courses, walking trails, hundreds of acres of protected nature reserves, the town green and other common facilities.

While there were concerns from local residents over the traffic and density impact of such a large development, Lenox emphasizes that the developers involved the town and the public in its planning process. “The town was very involved every step of the way,” he points out.

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