Friday, June 4, 1999
Planning board refuses again to give green light to three subdivisions
Acting chair Bill Tice welcomed two new members, Louise Hara and Thomas Lane, to the planning board at the May 24 meeting. It was a baptism of fire as old contentious issues regarding three proposed developments dominated the advent of their five-year terms.
Deer Creek Estates impasse
Spokesmen for Deer Creek Estates, a.k.a. Hunters Run, appeared for another review of the proposed subdivision located off Nickles Lane and Oak Knoll Road. Douglas Hausler, the attorney representing landowners Robert and Jean Kydd, opened by repeating the basic issue, "Do you want a through road or not?"
Hausler introduced John Boardman, of Ross Associates, who described the most recent variation of the controversial subdivision. "The original cul-de-sac plan featured ten new houses, six on Nickles Lane and four on Oak Knoll," said Boardman. "We are sticking with our recent proposal of a seven-lot subdivision on two cul-de-sacsthree houses on Nickles Lane and four on Oak Knoll. I hope that tonight's meeting will show that this is the best alternative." But the key question, one that has thus far defied resolution, is whether to connect Nickles Lane and Oak Knoll with a through road or separate them with two cul-de-sacs.
Abutters generally favor two cul-de-sacs for reduced traffic and neighborhood security. Tom McAndrew of Nickles Lane shared his apocalyptic vision of a through road with six-foot cuts and 20 feet of fill. "A tunnel and bridge is not what Carlisle is all about," he commented.
The concept of expanding Nickles Lane from six houses to a nine-house cul-de-sac has received little opposition. The Oak Knoll expansion enjoys no such support. Selectman Vivian Chaput emphatically stated, "I urge you not to allow Oak Knoll to be extended. It is a very unsafe situation with 33 houses up there on a cul-de-sac. The latest plan expands that to 37 houses! Remember the April Fool's storm when the pole fell across Milne Cove Road? If that had been across Laurelwood."
JoAnne and David Kelch of Oak Knoll Road agreed that it would be nice if the number of lots off Oak Knoll were reduced. But regarding the safety issue of the prolific 33-house cul-de-sac, David Kelch said, "I understand Vivian's concerns, but we've lived there for 17 years without any problem." Members of the planning board were unable to hit on a magic solution to the seeming impasse and decided to continue discussion at the June 14 meeting. Member Michael Epstein sympathized with Hausler and the Kydds by saying, "We commend your patience, although that doesn't mean that we won't try it further."
New twist on Curve Street
Attorney Joseph Shanahan, representing Paul C. Hart, returned to the planning board once again to discuss a preliminary subdivision plan for land off Curve Street. Shanahan had approached the board on September 28, 1998 and was told that a 15-lot development without a secondary egress was unacceptable. On January 25, Shanahan had a new twist, saying Hart thought he had 70 acres, but surveys revealed that he actually has 100. He then proposed a 14-lot development and donation of 40 acres to the town. The board suggested a further reduction in the number of lots, possibly to 13. Members also said they would like to see the road length reducedthe shorter the better.
Shanahan revealed on May 24 that a perimeter survey upped the acreage once again, this time to 116, meaning that 55 acres could be donated to the town. The proposed number of lots has been reduced to 13 and road length shortened from 1,800 feet to 1,500 feet. Planning board rules and regulations state that a dead-end street can be no longer than 1,000 feet and contain no more than ten building lots.
George Senkler of Curve Street asked, "Why did the board encourage 13 lots instead of ten?" Member Kate Reid explained that there was no consensus and no vote was taken. Senkler continued, "There are very few acres that are not wetlands. My feeling is that the applicant is trying to put more houses on the land than is appropriate." This aroused the suspicions of member Dan Holzman, who asked, "Could it be that all 55 acres [suggested as a donation] are wetland?" Shanahan admitted, "All but maybe ten percent are wet."
New member Louise Hara put her experience on the trails committee to good use with a personal observation. "I walked it in the spring. Most of it was wet. My boots can handle water up to my knees. I couldn't get through!" Holzman envisioned "tens of millions of pounds of fill" to raise the house lots, large mounds for septic systems, and a raised roadway to meet the lots.
Shanahan readily admitted that they will need waivers for both street length and number of lots, but that the board has granted such waivers in the past. Member Michael Abend explained, "When we consider waivers, it is for a better alternative. Here the donated land cannot be developed and there is no benefit for granting a waiver." Reid dug in her heels and stated, "Ten houses on a cul-de-sac is as many houses as I'm willing to risk." Holzman put his paddle in the water by concluding, "The rules are clear [1,000 feet and ten lots]. The donation of wetlands is not a compelling reason for a waiver." The subdivision review was continued to June 14.
Joe March of Stamski and McNary presented a subdivision plan for Wheeler Lane (off Kimball Road) by request of John Swanson and the Tall Pines Realty Trust. The property is located behind the Swanson home on Curve Street and represents the last undeveloped parcel of the old farm. It features a 750-foot subdivision road off Kimball with four houses. A subdivision road is more expensive since it must be 18 feet wide and built to highway standards, but this resolved earlier concerns about using a common driveway to create building lots.
Planning administrator George Mansfield distributed a review of the latest plans from Judith Nitsch Engineering. Acting as town engineer, Sandra Brock stated that the subdivision plan appears to generally conform to town rules and regulations. She submitted a list of 28 comments related to such minutiae as the location of street signs. March elected to publicly and tediously respond to each of the 28 comments.
It took a letter from fire chief Bob Koning to revive the public hearing. Koning expressed concern that Concord has a road with a similar name to Wheeler Lane, which might cause confusion. Also, Koning felt that there is too great a distance from the existing fire cistern at the intersection of Kimball and Hutchins Roads to this new road.
March had done his homework and said that the name was chosen because the Wheelers had lived in that part of town in the 1700s. He had an alternative name of Wilkins if the board so desired, but no support for a name change was forthcoming and Wheeler Lane survived.
Regarding the cistern, rules require that the site be no more than 2,000 feet from a source of water and Wheeler Lane complies. Koning realized this, but felt that contemporary structure sizes necessitate closer proximity. While admitting that there was logic to Koning's suggestion, the board felt that the rules are clear and cannot be arbitrarily changed.
Another round of comments and responses is needed before the public hearing on Wheeler Lane can be closed. It will be continued on June 14 at the next scheduled meeting of the planning board.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito