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Duxbury

Voters to weigh rezoning part of former Battelle site

The new owners of the property in Duxbury formerly owned and occupied by the Battelle Institute are hoping to rent out some of their office space.
Battelle
The new owners of the property in Duxbury formerly owned and occupied by the Battelle Institute are hoping to rent out some of their office space.

Duxbury’s annual Town Meeting will vote March 10 on a number of proposals, including rezoning a portion of the former Battelle Institute property from residential to neighborhood business to allow buildings on the site to be rented out for office space.

Island Creek Oysters bought the waterfront property from a Boston developer for $8 million in November and is now looking to make the best use of it. Its president, Chris Sherman, said the core business of hatching oysters and growing oyster seed will take up about two-thirds of the approximately 11-acre property, mostly close to the water.

He said the company is exploring the possibility of leasing out buildings closer to Washington Street to others, such as real estate agents or accountants.

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Two historic homes on the property along Washington Street will not be included in the rezoning proposal, but Sherman said they are being looked at for possible office space as well. He said company officials are listening to residents, many of whom want the streetscape along Washington Street to remain the same.

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The rezoning would require a two-thirds majority vote. Residents have been opposed to previous proposals for the property, including building eight single-family homes or 35 condominiums.

Selectmen chairman Shawn Dahlen said residents may be more open to proposals from Island Creek, since its founders and many of its workers are from Duxbury.

He said he’d like to see the historic houses be used for multi-unit housing. Some locals would like to have a small place in Duxbury, particularly if they are away for part of the year, he said.

The property had been home to Battelle, a nonprofit government research company focused on marine life, but has been vacant for more than three years following Battelle’s relocation to a more modern facility in Norwell.

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Other issues before Town Meeting include whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in town, an idea voters have opposed in the statewide ballot; elimination of the Personnel Board; approval of a more than $78.8 million operating budget, up 3 percent from the current budget; approval of a capital budget that includes $490,000 for the Alden School window project; an expansion of the senior center; the extension of demolition delays of historic buildings from six to 12 months; and construction of ballfield dugouts at the Keene Street playground.

Town Meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. in the Duxbury Schools Performing Arts Center on Alden Street.

Workers for Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury sort oysters aboard their floating hut.
Globe File 2015
Workers for Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury sort oysters aboard their floating hut.

Jean Lang can be reached at jeanmcmillanlang@gmail.com.