Friday, May 8, 1998

Planning board thanks retiring members before approving new rules

by Dave Ives

"Thank you for five years of service to the planning board" announced member Tara Hengeveld as she presented a homemade frosted marble cake to chair Susan Yanofsky and member Sally Duscha. Attendees at the April 27 meeting gave the two departing members a hearty round of applause and everyone in the Clark Room was rewarded with a generous slice of delicious cake. Seemingly inspired by such an auspicious beginning, the board went on to conduct a number of public hearings and voted favorably on all but the last.

Rules and regulations

Member Mike Epstein reviewed recent changes to the Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land which resulted from the meeting on April 13. All the suggestions from Steve Tobin, co-chair of the Carlisle Trails Committee, had been incorporated. Tobin had recommended that easements for woods paths and trails be wider than six feet and that a minimum width of 20 feet is preferred. Epstein explained that the rules will now read, "Easements for bike/footpaths and woods paths and trails shall be at least 20 feet wide."

Maple Street resident Wendy O'Rourke asked the board to explain why 20 feet was chosen as the easement. Epstein referred to Tobin's letter which states that the trails committee is typically relocating existing trails to easements along property lines to minimize impacts on house sites. Their objective when laying out a new trail is to fit it into the micro-topography of the site, disturbing the existing condition of the land as little as possible. Although the cleared walkway of the trail is about six feet wide, it necessarily meanders around natural obstructions such as trees, ledge, large stones, holes, overturned tree roots, and wet spots. An easement width of 20 feet allows initial placement of a trail within the natural features of the site and allows future minor relocations when, for example, a large tree is uprooted.

Another suggestion from the trails committee was to include trail easements and conservation restrictions in the permanent marking of all easement boundaries. The committee has had problems in the past locating trail easements that only appear on paper and not physically. Also, "existing trails" is now included after "historic locations" in the list of natural features to be preserved to add attractiveness and value to a subdivision.

Epstein added that comments about footpaths received from the bike/pedestrian safety committee were reviewed by the board and they concluded that these issues were already covered in the latest rules and regulations. No further discussion was forthcoming from the floor and member Bill Tice made a motion to accept the revised rules and regulations. The motion was passed by a vote of five to one, with Sally Duscha opposing and Mike Abend abstaining.

Malcolm Meadows

Attorney Steven Graham once again stepped forward to represent his client, Northwest Structures, in the continued public hearing on Malcolm Meadows, a senior residential open space cluster. Graham reported that trees along Stearns Street which adversely affect the line of sight have been removed. Several large boulders have been moved back to ensure a proper line of sight to the west of the driveway. Sight distance to the east is not clear, but fixing it would require substantial changes to the elevations on both the condominium and conservation land.

Graham confirmed that his client, the developer, will provide the homeowners at Malcolm Meadows with a one-year warranty on all plantings. The condominium association will then be responsible for the maintenance of the plantings as was agreed at the time of approval of the special permit. Several residents of Malcolm Meadows pointed out minor variations to the original plans, but Bill Reeder pointed out that many trees and bushes have established themselves over the winter and should be left alone.

"The board is satisfied," said Yanofsky. Tice moved that the plan be accepted with minor changes and contingent on final site inspection. The motion was carried 5 to 0 with Yanofsky and John LaLiberté abstaining because they had missed a portion of the public hearing.

Carlisle Conservation Land Trust president Eunice Knight mentioned that, by the way, developer Ron Peabody had offered to move a stone wall to align with the boundary between the condominium and the conservation trust property. She feared that this promise might have slipped his mind during the ensuing months and now might never be honored. Epstein asked Graham to respond in writing as to whether his client will honor his offer pertinent to the stone wall.

Kimball Road lot

The final public hearing of the evening was a continuation of the request for a special permit for Kimball Road lot 39. A common drive, to be named Wheeler Lane, would serve lots 28B, 39A, 40, and 41. Jody Hinkle and Joe March of Stamski and McNary presented the modified plan as requested by the board on April 13. Yanofsky reacted to the plan by repeating her earlier objection, "A common driveway should not be used to create building lots."

There was hope at the previous hearing that a fifth lot might not be developed if the common driveway were approved. March now stated that the owner fully intends to develop the fifth lot as well as the four presently under discussion. "Where is the quid pro quo for the town?" asked Kate Reid, a write-in candidate for the planning board who had been following the proceedings all evening.

March stated that the owner has several options to develop the land, but felt that this had the least impact. One alternative would be to link 28B and 39A with a common drive off Kimball and then access 40 and 41 from Curve Street. "This would require him to tear down one of his barns" said March, "which he would prefer not to do." The board was not swayed. "If he has so many options, let him use them." retorted Epstein. The board then formally rejected the special permit request by a vote of 5 to 1 with Duscha opposed; Hengeveld was recused.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 12—the day after town elections.