Friday, June 4, 1999
ConsCom halts plans for Berry Corner Lane
Berry Corner Lane residents who are opposed to plans for "improving" their unpaved common drive won a significant round in their battle against development when the Carlisle Conservation Commission refused to consider the project further at their May 27 meeting. Conservation administrator Katrina Proctor set the stage by citing both town bylaw and the state's Wetland Protection Act (WPA) as requiring the signatures of owners before the commission can approve a building project that involves private property. She backed this interpretation with supporting opinions from Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions director Sally Zielinski, Conservation Law Foundation lawyer Alexandra Dawson and Department of Environmental Protection representative Ralph Perkins.
Applicants Michael and David Valchuis have been seeking approval to resurface and provide drainage for Berry Corner Lane in order to qualify it as a town road and provide the frontage required for building on their 13-acre lot. Other owners of the private drive have opposed the construction.
The pleas of attorney Howard Speicher of Davis, Malm and D'Agostine on behalf of the Valchuis' brothers were firmly turned aside by chair JoRita Jordan who repeated the stated requirements. The attorney's contention that the WPA does not require property owners to sign a construction application was rejected by Proctor, who read the text as it appears in the document itself. Jordan added that the easement to which Speicher had referred several times does not in itself give his client the right to build, and, in any case, an easement is not recorded until all permits have been received.
When Speicher asked that the commission seek an opinion from town counsel, commissioner Steven Hinton provided the final word as he declared that local bylaw and state regulations offer sufficient guidance and that a board decision in the matter "does not require a law degree." Approval was denied "by reason of insufficient information."
Commissioners suggested that the Valchuis brothers go back to their prospective neighbors and try to work out a compromise.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito