GROTON -- Pleading continued economic hardship, the developer of Academy Hill, a subdivision located in West Groton, met with the Planning Board seeking relief from a previously approved schedule for building affordable homes in conjunction with market-rate units.

"I do feel the market is improving," said developer Bruce Wheeler, "but we need a little more time, and being able to build smaller units will be healthiest over time."

Wheeler appeared before the board seeking permission to proceed with construction of five single-family condominiums before being required to build the next affordable unit.

A sluggish real-estate market, said the developer, has forced him to reconsider his plans for constructing larger homes. Instead, he has decided to downsize, hoping that smaller units will move more quickly.

Smaller homes, he believed, would have "more traction" in a stubborn market.

So far, Wheeler has built 56 of 94 homes planned for Academy Hill with at least 200 of the Townsend Road site's 300 acres to be preserved as open land.

Among the homes to be constructed, six are to be reserved as affordable with two already built.

In the portion of the plan discussed at the board's March 20 meeting, four more affordables are yet to be built out of 20 remaining units.

Board members voted to allow Wheeler to proceed with his next five homes provided that one affordable one be constructed at the same time as or immediately after the fifth unit is worked on.


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In addition, Wheeler is to follow the same pattern with each of the remaining 15 homes to be constructed in the current phase of the multi-year project.

"I feel we should get on with the affordables," said board Chairman John Giger of the agreement.

"The board has been helpful and cooperative throughout the process," said Wheeler.