Friday, June 25, 1999
Planning board approves three subdivisions
The Carlisle Planning Board elected new leadership for the coming year and then provided an indication of things to come by approving three major subdivision plans. Wheeler Lane, Deer Creek Estates, and Hart Farm Estates all received approval at the June 14 meeting, albeit with some strings attached.
Bill Tice is the new planning board chair with Michael Epstein sitting in as vice-chair. Recently elected Louise Hara volunteered to serve as clerk and the position of treasurer, vacated by Tice, remains open. The board also filled liaison positions to other town boards and committees.
Joe March, co-owner of Stamski and McNary, returned to respond to two remaining issues at a continued public hearing on the Wheeler Lane subdivision plan. First was concern expressed by fire chief Bob Koning that the 20,000-gallon fire cistern located at the intersection of Kimball and Hutchins Roads exceeded the required distance of 2,000 feet from the proposed house on Lot 2. March measured along Kimball Road and up Wheeler Lane and submitted a map confirming the distance as 1,850 feet. "We feel we have met the fire protection requirements and therefore have not proposed an additional fire cistern," asserted March.
The second issue arose when Koning warned that Concord has a road with a similar name to Wheeler Lane which might cause confusion. Wilkins Lane was proposed at the last meeting and Koning subsequently submitted a letter to the board confirming that Wilkins was acceptable.
Just when it appeared that Wilkins Lane was finally emerging as an approved subdivision, JoRita Jordan and Tricia Smith of the conservation commission rose from the audience. "We're astonished at the amount of infrastructure to service four houses," declared Smith. "Did you consider infiltration by swales rather than catch basins and pipes?"
"Why?" asked member Dan Holzman, always eager to engage in a civil engineering debate. Smith responded, "To avoid burdening the DPW [department of pubic works] with maintenance. Swales along the road have less maintenance. Pipes back up with sediment. Sometimes we think less is more." Holzman was not convinced. "Catch basins can catch oil spills," he responded. Smith countered, "That's fine for a roadway, but this is a cul-de-sac."
"Oil spills happen," insisted Holzman, citing past instances of oil truck mishaps. The debate ended in a draw and the catch basins prevailed. March mentioned as a consolation that they don't plan to install curbing and also showed the location of a potential trail easement linking Hutchins Road to the new subdivision.
Member Kate Reid then moved to approve the Wheeler Lane definitive subdivision plan with the stipulation that both the subdivision and road be renamed Wilkins Lane and that a trail easement be provided from Hutchins Road to Wilkins Lane. The motion was carried by a vote of 6-0. Member Michael Epstein asked March to draft documents verifying the trail easement to the town.
Deer Creek (a.k.a. Hunters Run)
A sizable group of abutters assembled in the Clark room for the public meeting on the preliminary subdivision plan for Deer Creek Estates (a.k.a. Hunter's Run). The 28-acre parcel is slated for development by owners Jean and Robert Kydd. The plan now being proposed features seven houses on two cul-de-sacs as opposed to a previous proposal for a through-road. Both sides have strong opinions as two recent letters to the planning board attest.
Selectman Vivian Chaput strongly recommended that the planning board not consider any extension of Oak Knoll or any additional homes on that roadway unless and until the cul-de-sacs on Nickles and Oak Knoll are connected. "Not only are there 35 homes on a dead-end, i.e., Laurelwood to Oak Knoll, but there are also five additional homes on Milne Cove Lane," she stated. "One end of Milne Cove was closed down for three-and-a-half days following the April Fool's storm of 1997 when power lines and a pole were downed. What may seem idyllic to the Hemlock Hill/Oak Knoll neighborhood in the sunshine may come back to haunt us all in an ice storm. What seems peaceful in the daylight may turn into a nightmare if a child is choking or a fire is raging."
Stewart Roberts and Karla Johnson of 108 Nickles Lane offered another view. "The topography and wetlands do not permit connecting Nickles Lane and Oak Knoll in an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sensitive and safe way," they stated. "Both the Nickles Lane neighborhood and the Oak Knoll neighborhood are overwhelmingly opposed to the through-road as evidenced by the many letters signed by dozens of residents."
Roberts and Johnson went on to cite two concerns. The Kydds have spent a great deal of time working with the neighbors and if the planning board rejects the outcome of this cooperative effort, what kind of a message does this send to other developers who might be encouraged to work with abutters? Secondly, rejection of the plan will encourage the Kydds to pursue the original plan which will create a roadway unlike any other in town with steep grades, deep cuts blasted into existing ledge, large quantities of fill to raise the elevation 20 feet above existing grade, and removal of almost all existing trees.
The fearless new planning board decided to resolve the issue once and for all. Member Michael Abend moved that the board approve the preliminary subdivision plan of Deer Creek Estates, featuring two cul-de-sacs, with the following conditions:
· No additional right-of-way shall be created at the end of Oak Knoll Road.
· No more than two homes are to have access from Oak Knoll Road
· Fire cisterns will be provided near the end of each street (Oak Knoll and Nickles).
· The extension of Nickles Lane shall be designed for acceptance as a public way.
· A trail shall be developed, with appropriate easements, between Nickles Lane and the end of Oak Knoll Road.
· A study shall be conducted regarding sight distances at the end of Nickles Lane to determine whether measures can be taken to enhance safety there.
Member Louise Hara identified town-owned property to the north and asked that the motion be amended to provide a trail easement that connects Oak Knoll to the town-owned property. This was accepted by Abend and the board then voted 5-1 in favor of the amended motion with Epstein opposed.
A howl of protest arose from the abutters who had not been given an opportunity to speak. Tice explained that the board felt it had already received sufficient information from the public to make a decision. The abutters continued to grumble among themselves and then reluctantly went home.
Hart Farm Estates
Attorney Joseph Shanahan, representing Paul C. Hart, appeared once again to discuss a preliminary subdivision plan for Hart Farm Estates off Curve Street. Shanahan last appeared on May 24 and proposed a 13-lot subdivision on the 116-acre parcel with 55 acres being donated to the town. A 1,550-foot road, consisting of two cul-de-sacs, would provide access to the lots. Shanahan dispelled rumors of an affordable housing project by affirming that they have no desire to develop anything other than a 13-lot subdivision.
Most of the discussion at the last meeting focused on the quality of the 55 acres being offered to the town. Shanahan admitted that, "all but maybe ten percent are wet." In reality, some portions of the land are actually under water. Sensing that his offer to trade land for additional building lots was sinking into the swamp, the ever-creative Shanahan presented a new twist. He now proposed the same 13-lot subdivision, with the same 1,550-foot roadway, but in return for a three-lot waiver, they would donate 55 acres to the town of Carlisleas an aquifer.
"This aquifer is superior" to that on the O'Rourke land, explained Shanahan. "It's a direct shot 6,500 feet down Morse Road to the center of town." Abend was not convinced that the requested waivers were worth a donation of inaccessible wetlands. "If we don't support the waivers, then nothing will be built there," he declared. On the other hand, Holzman pointed out, "55 acres has conservation value to the town. Its value as an aquifer is highbut we don't know how high. It could just be surface water."
Hara suggested that the land would be more valuable to the town if the upland Lot 9 within the wetlands were also donated to the town. "This will provide a trail connection to Old Morse Road and might also be a site for a pumping station if the parcel proves to be useful as an aquifer," she reasoned.
Planning administrator George Mansfield noted that since the last meeting, the board of health has sent a letter approving the preliminary plan. This provided more impetus for the planning board to resolve the Hart Farm impasse. Abend decided to give it a try and moved to approve the preliminary subdivision plan for Hart Farm Estates with the following conditions:
· The number of lots will be limited to twelve.
· The twelve lots will generally stay away from the wetlands and Lot 9 (upland lot) will be eliminated.
· A public access right-of-way shall be provided from the end of the southerly cul-de-sac to the wetland area.
· The developer must seriously consider gaining the 12 lots by reconfiguring the development as a conservation cluster.
Amended to 11 lots
Member Mike Epstein stated that given the lack of studies conducted on the property, he is not convinced that the wetland donation would be of value to the town. "I recommend allowing a maximum of 11 lots total," he suggested. John Bakewell of Rutland Street agreed, saying that given the topography of the land, this area of the town is in need of a conservation cluster. Epstein moved to amend the motion to allow only a maximum of 11 lots and a twelfth lot as a bonus for development as a conservation cluster. Abend accepted the amendment and the board voted 6-0 in favor of the amended motion.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito