GRAFTON, Mass. – The fate of the last mill complex in South Grafton may rest in the mixed use zoning plan that will go before Town Meeting in October.
The Planning Board held public hearings Tuesday on three warrant articles that, if approved, would lead to zoning bylaw changes. The bylaw that may have the largest impact is a plan to revitalize South Grafton by allowing mixed-use zoning by right, giving property owners in the Fisherville and Farnumsville sections the ability to use land for compatible uses such as residential, office, retail, recreational and light industrial.
In a letter to the Planning Board, Bob Heavey of the Blackstone Mill Depot Street Trust was strongly in favor of the proposal. A developer, Weld Management Group of Boston, is considering the former Farnumsville Mill on Depot Street for residential development, planning to create more than 90 one- and two-bedroom units in the historic complex.
"With the re-zoning of Farnumsville, the mill will once again become the nucleus for the revitalization of South Grafton," Heavey wrote.
Built in 1827 by Peter Farnum & Sons, the mill was in the cotton/yarn business for more than 100 years, closing in the 1990s. Since then the mill, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, has been stagnant.
The mill is now the only surviving mill of the three South Grafton mills, said John LaPoint, vice chairperson of the Grafton Economic Development Commission. Development could potentially open up additional public space along the Blackstone River as well as provide an example for other property owners in South Grafton.
"We're very concerned that if this does not pass Town Meeting, this project will go away," LaPoint said.
The map of the proposed district is below. The proposal for the mixed use zoning project is available online.