Friday, February 5, 1999
Developer sweetens plan with land gift, but planning board doesn't bite
On January 25, attorney Joseph Shanahan, representing Paul C. Hart, returned to the planning board for a third time to discuss an informal conceptual plan for the subdivision of land off Curve Street. Shanahan last approached the board on September 28, at which time he was told that his 15-lot development without a secondary egress was unacceptable. This time, Shanahan had a new twist. "Mr. Hart thought that he had 70 acres, but recent surveys have revealed that he has 100! We are here tonight to propose a 14-lot development and donation of 40-60 acres to the town."
Shanahan displayed a map showing two roadways, one proceeding 900 feet into the property from Curve Street and ending in a cul-de-sac. A second roadway branches to the left about two-thirds of the way in and goes to another cul-de-sac. Access to the property is still via a 40-foot wide strip of land available under a purchase and sale agreement with the seven heirs of Daniel Ohs and a ten-foot- wide strip from abutter Stephen Kirkland. "The entire subdivision is hidden from Curve Street. There are no common driveways, only one driveway crosses a wetland, and we're donating the land in back to the town," boasted a smiling Shanahan, hoping his third appearance would be the lucky one.
Member Kate Reid was the first to speak. "I have a problem with long cul-de-sacs and single egress. I don't like to create a bad situation and this is a bad situation." Member Mike Epstein went further. "There are way too many lots. Why should we approve this?" Hengeveld added the final nail by saying, "There are too many houses on a dead end. Ten is the maximum allowed by our rules and regulations."
Shanahan, no longer smiling, tried to appeal to the board's sympathy. "Some thought should be given to the fact that the Hart family has owned the property for 85 years and have always paid full taxes." Then, in a more threatening tone, Shanahan said, "The alternative is to acquire land for a second egress and develop many more lots. We have also looked at obtaining a comprehensive permit for affordable housing."
Chair Tara Hengeveld asked whether a reduction in the 50-foot-wide right-of-way might save them enough money to reduce the development to 13 lots. "You don't understand," exclaimed Shanahan. "We are landlocked! We don't own any access to Curve Street. You can well imagine the price we are paying to get access to this land."
Paul Daugherty of Curve Street tried to steer the discussion back to a more positive note. "I spoke in favor the last time," he said. "You may have the best offer in front of you now. I would hate to see us end up with something worse. This is a much improved plan. The town should respond in kind, rather than dig in their heels."
The board was not dissuaded. Hengeveld concluded the discussion by repeating her suggestion of a further reduction in the number of lots to 13. Reid added that she would like to see the road length reduced alsothe shorter the better.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito