Friday, February 26, 1999
Treibick saga continues and continues to be continued
"This is like the movie 'Groundhog Day,'" said Jacob Diemert, attorney for Theodore Treibick. "We keep reliving the same public hearing." Diemert was referring to the request for special permit for a common driveway to serve five lots at 138-142 East Street. Unlike the movie, Diemert has enjoyed little progress with each repetition.
Eric Durling of R. Wilson & Associates presented two major revisions at the February 8 meeting. "We have raised the elevation of the roadway by one foot," he said, "in response to concerns about wetland flooding." Construction of the proposed driveway will require filling 400 square feet of wetland, which must be replicated. The town engineer from LandTech had previously claimed that portions of the driveway are located within the 100-year flood plain. A neighbor also observed that one part of the driveway becomes a pond every spring.
A memo from fire chief Bob Koning prompted the second major revision. Koning stated, "I have a major concern with the development due to the fact that there is no water protection within a half-mile of this project. As a result, it is imperative that a water cistern be installed." Durling agreed and added a water cistern to his site plan at approximately the midpoint of the driveway.
Opposition arose to a change made at the last public hearing. In order to limit the grade to two percent at the entrance to East Street, Durling added seven feet of fill to the first 50 feet of driveway, installed guardrails because of the seven-foot drop, and filled some wetlands in the process. This satisfied concerns raised by members of the planning board about the 12-percent grade of the existing driveway. Both chair JoRita Jordan and member Tricia Smith of ConsCom spoke against the change, which they do not consider an improvement.
"I've used the driveway and don't find it difficult to come out of," observed Smith. Jordan added that she found no problem when leaving after the recent site walk, "because of the wide entry onto East Street. The new grading will make it narrower and higher."
Chair Tara Hengeveld reiterated the requirement that one-car length must be level with the road at the entranceway. Member Kate Reid added, "A fire truck would be hard-pressed to use the existing steep driveway under icy conditions." This did not convince ConsCom members that wetland filling was warranted. Jordan pleaded, "It will still be icy, but much narrower. We support the common driveway, but why change a safe, broad, well-constructed road?" The planning board did not yield.
Member Michael Epstein had other concerns. "We're struggling with legal points about your ANR plan," he said to Diemert. Granting a common driveway special permit is predicated on prior submission of a legal Approval Not Required (ANR) plan. It was not obvious to Epstein that the Treibick ANR plan was legal. "Our new town counsel has indicated that guardrails on East Street and wetlands along the frontage might preclude access to individual driveways," said Epstein. Individual access is necessary for an ANR plan before a common driveway can be proposed and approved.
As of February 1, the Boston law firm of Deutsch Williams Brooks DeRensis Holland & Drachman, P.C. is Carlisle's new town counsel. This was the first that Diemert had heard about guardrails and he was obviously annoyed at having to deal with new issues due to a change in town counsel. Epstein continued, "The guardrails and wetlands could make your access illusory. You are getting access via a common driveway that would otherwise not be possible."
Diemert countered, "We have the possibility of access, even if we don't intend to use it! Filling only 400 square feet of wetland with a common driveway is a whole lot better than 58,000 square feet of fill with individual driveways." Epstein was unfazed and offered the Treibick contingent a choice. "We can vote on your ANR plan now, or we can discuss this issue [of legal access via the ANR plan] with town counsel." Diemert knew that his ANR plan had little or no chance of immediate approval and opted for the second choice. "We'll be happy to postpone decision on the ANR plan until February 22," replied Diemert. "In the meantime, we'll meet with your town counsel, whoever they might be this week."
At a February 11 ConsCom meeting, Hengeveld and Reid, who were attending the subsequent commission meeting to discuss Warrant articles, used the occasion to float a possible compromise approach to the driveway issue. When Treibick's request for postponement of a scheduled public hearing before ConsCom came up, Hengeveld asked if there might be a way to alleviate commission concerns by maintaining a 40-foot entrance with a 12-percent grade. Reid, too, indicated willingness to "play with the grade and depth of opening."
On the negative side, Hengeveld noted that the fire chief's concerns made a compromise approach "a bit tougher." That issue aside, both commissioners Hinton and Smith urged that board members and others concerned about road safety, drive the present route again and reassess its practicality. Said commissioner Steve Hinton, "Having driven this many times over the years [on visits to Dr. Schneebaum] I have found the road fine as it is."
For the time being, the issue remains firmly on hold, since the planning board is concurrently in the process of assessing whether or not the project meets state standards for access to ANR lots. Only after that aspect is clarified can the planning board make final discretionary decisions concerning the common drive.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito