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Mary O’Donnell looks forward; Kingston apartments possible in the shadow of wind turbines

KINGSTON – Families in need of affordable housing could potentially benefit from Mary O’Donnell’s need to reduce her debt so she can move forward with plans for two wind turbines on the property that would have been 1021 Kingston’s Place.

With the demand for apartments high, O’Donnell proposes to build 250 apartments, including 50 affordable units with as many as possible going to Kingston residents.

In the backyard of the apartments would be two wind turbines on O’Donnell’s 105-acre Marion Drive property.

O’Donnell said at Monday night’s Planning Board meeting that she wants a clean slate moving forward with plans for the property, noting that she, just like the town, was taken in by the 1021 Kingston’s Place 40R housing developer, Thorndike president Lloyd Geisinger.

“This site is not tied to all those commitments that he made, I think, in bad faith,” she said.

The Planning Board asked O’Donnell to sit down with Town Planner Tom Bott to review the options for permitting affordable housing. Chairman Tom Bouchard said he knows the two have not hit it off but encouraged O’Donnell to meet with Bott. She agreed.

“I’m going to give it a whirl,” she said.

Board members said they don’t have enough information to make a recommendation but would like to see something happen with the site and agreed the town needs more affordable housing.

O’Donnell Family Trust seeks to go green on the property. In addition to the wind turbines, O’Donnell said, she’s also looking into locating a water wheel on-site to benefit the apartments and is looking into the permitting for one, including approaching the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s a very good concept, it’s a really green concept, and I can’t imagine them not giving permission,” she said.

O’Donnell came up with the idea for the wind turbines after Thorndike Development pulled out of a deal to build 1021 Kingston’s Place. That project proposed to create more than 140 affordable housing units and generate more than $700,000 in tax revenue each year.

The Planning Board approved the development’s master plan and phase 1 site plan, and selectmen approved an earth removal permit less than a month before Thorndike announced the project’s cancellation. Abutters appealed both decisions in Land Court, and Geisinger blamed the abutters’ constant appeals as the reason for canceling the project.