Friday, February 26, 1999
Conservation commission receives request from Hart developers
At their meeting of February 11, the conservation commission took up a request concerning a project that is far from new to either themselves or the planning board. The discussion referenced a letter from Paul C. Hart addressed to both town boards, asking that they or the trails committee undertake a survey of existing paths, easements and rights of way through or connecting to the 70 to 100 acres off of Curve Street on which Hart hopes to gain approval for 16 lots. This is the third go-around for Hart before both town boards, the last proposal having been shot down last September.
Planning board chair Tara Hengeveld told the commission that Hart's development team had presented an enlarged conceptual plan to the planning board January 25, one that called for a 900-foot roadway into the property ending in a cul-de-sac, but with an additional 40-foot road branching off to a second cul-de-sac. Hart's lawyer had introduced both a carrot and a stick, offering to give 40 to 60 acres of what Hengeveld described as "very wet land" to the town if the plan were approved. If that failed, he hinted they might consider applying to the state for a 138-unit affordable housing complex under a comprehensive permit.
Hengeveld said planning board representatives have walked the property and that people in the neighborhood think there are trails in the back, but the area is so overgrown it is impossible to walk it. If such trails do exist, the property might have value to the town for passive recreation.
A second matter mentioned in passing concerned Old Morse Road, which is believed to be an officially abandoned road that once ran from the vicinity of the present transfer station, through land belonging to the Senklers and possibly on to the Hart property. All legal opinions as to whether such a former road can be used to provide present-day frontage is based on contradictory case law. Obviously happy to hand these thorny problems over to the experts, ConsCom voted to refer them to the trails committee.
Red Pine water problem
This was an evening in which the commission was able to pass off yet a second hot potato. This one concerned a dispute between two neighboring homeowners enmeshed in a situation capable of arousing sympathy for both parties. One homeowner, Joan Duffy, faced with a flood of water on her land issuing from a 12-inch culvert that has drained water from neighboring Red Pine Drive property owned by Dr. Edgar Miller off and on since 1971, ended up capping the pipe in the belief that there was no easement to permit such diversion.
Confronted with a flooded basement but desiring to avoid a court battle over the legal question, Miller proposed a compromise solution designed by engineers Stamski and McNary. They planned to install a foundation drain, cut a section out of the 12-inch pipe and splice in a four-inch section, which would divert the water into a culvert or intermittent brook. That depression runs along Red Pine Drive, a private way, through land owned by Cynthia MacLeod, then across land owned by Duffy, through land owned by Ann Clark and finally empties into a larger culvert that flows under Bedford Road.
The McNary solution was questioned by Duffy's spokesman William Dean, who asked the commissioners if there were any wetland regulations prohibiting the pumping of water into an intermittent brook where it would end up on Duffy's property. After some on-the-spot research, the commissioners answered in the negative. Clark, who also has concerns, reported that the Bedford Road culvert is partially blocked by fallen rocks. "Perhaps if it were cleaned up, the water would flow faster," she suggested.
Expressing empathy with all parties, but informing them that their powers are strictly limited to wetland resource areas, the commissioners declared the problem outside their jurisdiction and exited gracefully with a "negative determination."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito