The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 30, 1999


Planning board gives nod to East Riding and Hart Farm plans

Affordable housing and trees have emerged as the unavoidable casualties in recent plans for development in town. The Carlisle Planning Board struggled with these issues and discussed a potential legal battle with Berry Corner Lane residents at its July 19 meeting,

Resolving East Riding furor

One potential legal problem was resolved when developer Bill Costello revised his proposal for 314 East Riding Drive. In the new conceptual plan, Costello proposes to build nine houses on a cul-de-sac and provide the town with a tenth lot suitable for building. The town, which owns an adjacent but previously inaccessible 2.43-acre piece, would end up having a much more marketable four-acre lot.

Costello captured the town's attention last year when he proposed a mixed housing development of 16 houses to the municipal land committee on September 29. The town, with only 1.2 percent of its housing considered affordable, continues to lag behind the ten percent state requirement." Based on what's happening in Dover, Weston, and Concordall similar to CarlisleI think if he [Costello] had persevered with his plans, the town would not have been able to stop him," said housing authority chair Marty Galligan. "It might have cost the town $300,000 in legal fees, and he might not have built in 1999 but in 2002."

Costello's current plan does not contain any affordable housing and requires six waivers.

· An intersection road grade waiver is necessary because the alleged safest place for the road would require an incline on East Riding Drive.

· A sidewalk waiver is requested because the developer believes there would not be the amount of foot or vehicle traffic to necessitate such a safety precaution.

· The proposed "Cape Cod berm" material would resist snowplow damage better in winter than the required granite curbing.

· A dead-end road cannot exceed 1,000 feet, but a waiver would be needed for this 1,100-foot road to include the town's parcel.

· The developer needs to reduce the right-of-way to 40 feet to accommodate the ten lots; the required minimum is 50 feet.

· In return for donating land to Carlisle to provide access to its landlocked parcel, Costello has requested that the town waive the application fees totaling $3,750.

"I've had a lot of time to think about this," said member Michael Abend. "I'm not concerned about the waivers; I don't think they are going to be a problem." Abend, the planning board's representative to the municipal land committee, noted that the plan must still go to that group for review, but added, "I think this is going in the right direction."

Member Louise Hara, the trails committee representative to the same committee prefers undeveloped land but in this case, the town would gain more financially by reselling the parcel for development. Nevertheless, the town will first need to pay for perc tests and septic design engineering. Hara requested that a cap be set on these expenditures.

Based on his previous experience with other towns, Costello recommended that the Carlisle selectmen nominate a nonprofit group to take title of the land to facilitate financial management. The profit, estimated at $275,000, could be used to reimburse the town for costs associated with selling the land. Then, the remaining funds could be used to defray expenses for building affordable housing, support the purchase of more land, or maintain conservation parcels. However, if the town handles the transaction, the handling of those funds becomes a more complex process.

"The devil is in the details," said member Dan Holzman who supported the recommendation to the selectmen that a separate entity be involved in the sale. "The town historically has a history of not dealing well with difficult financial transactions."

Galligan did not believe the town should sell the lot and pointed out, "The mission should be affordable housing, not to create a bank account. Land that you can build affordable housing on is worth ten times more to us than the money earned by selling it."

Although responding to different motivating factors, the principals involved with the future of 314 East Riding Drive are closer to agreement on the revised conceptual plan.

Preserving 60 acres at Hart Farm

The planning board also reviewed a conceptual plan for a conservation cluster at Hart Farm Estates, located off Curve Street. The 100-acre site may include a cluster of 12 houses, with 60 acres permanently set aside as town conservation land. This plan would require three waivers:

· A waiver would be necessary to reduce the width of the road from the required 20 feet to 18.

· The cluster would employ country drainage (ditches with open swales) as opposed to the required closed drainage.

"The reality is that you are going to lose nearly half the trees. Let's have no illusions about what's going to happen here."

· A waiver would be required because the roadway does not have a sidewalk.

While all three waivers may arguably reduce disruption to the land during the construction process, both Abend and Hara went on record to express their desire to minimize tree removal. Member Dan Holzman added that the groundwater is so high that the trees will not tolerate any land disturbance. "The reality is that you are going to lose nearly half the trees. Let's have no illusions about what's going to happen here," he said.

Board members discussed their surprise at the high number of trees lost at the Buttrick Woods development on Concord Street. Planning administrator George Mansfield noted that the subsequent review of the plans indicated that tree removal there was in full compliance. He believes the look of the site will improve after planned landscaping occurs.

Returning to the discussion of the Hart Farm road and drainage issues, and hearing support for the elimination of a sidewalk, chair Bill Tice concluded, "It sounds like we're in good shape. We'd be open to this plan."

Berry Corner Lane suit

The lawsuit of Valchuis et al. versus the Carlisle Planning Board is still pending. The neighborhood has concerns about construction of a sixth house on Berry Corner Lane. At the time the road was built in 1968, small subdivision regulations limited the number of houses to five.

At the July 19 meeting, the board discussed a settlement compromise on the table with Berry Corner Lane resident Dick Wells. He was opposed to a proposed drainage ditch that would kill trees. He noted that the construction would also require the use of unsightly hay bales. "Our highest priority is maintaining the lane as it is," said Wells.

Fire chief Bob Koning inspected the road and observed drainage problems. Along with a new house, construction plans call for an improved roadway, a turnaround to facilitate fire engine and truck service, and better surface water management.

"We prefer poor drainage to the solution on the table," responded Wells. "It will kill trees."

The board went into executive session to discuss the litigation. Any decisions will become public upon resolution of the case, according to Mansfield.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito