Friday, August 27, 1999
Legal technicalities prevent owners from receiving permits
Those legal technicalities will get you every time, as several disappointed applicants discovered at the August 16 meeting of the planning board.
Albert Gould and Betsy Goldenberg requested a review of their preliminary subdivision plan for Great Brook Estates. They previously had presented an informal conceptual plan on June 28 for subdivision of their land located at 195 Rutland Street connecting to 120 Pine Brook Road. Gould began by informing the board, "Our goal is to end up with a conservation cluster." Town bylaws require that subdivision of land must first meet standard ANR requirements before a special permit can be granted to build a conservation cluster.
Engineer Gary Shepard, of David Ross Associates presented plans for a 12-lot development on the 43-acre property. The property is split into two separate developments. The Rutland Street portion contains a 1,000-foot cul-de-sac accessing five conventional and five porkchop lots, one of which may be moved over to Pine Brook. The Pine Brook portion originally featured two lots, now possibly three, on a ten-acre parcel accessed by a common driveway. Shepard also displayed a transparent overlay to show the subdivision as a conservation cluster with bonus lot. It features a conservation buffer with trail easement along the entire boundary of the Great Brook Farm State Park.
Member Michael Abend suggested several alternatives to the lot placement to help resolve the number of houses accessed by each of the two roads. Gary Stadtlander of Pine Brook Road was chagrined at the possibility of a third house on the Pine Brook side. "That means six to nine cars running within 100 feet of my house," he said. "Don't spin your wheels on the plans being presented," Gould reminded everyone. "The conservation overlay is what we're actually going to propose." Board member Louise Hara thanked the applicants for the thought put into the plan. "It shows quite a bit of sensitivity. I would like to see the conservation cluster go through."
Planning administrator George Mansfield put a damper on the proceedings by disclosing that he had received notification from the town tax collector of unpaid taxes on the property included in the preliminary plan.
"The board may deny any request for a permit, including subdivision plan approval, so long as taxes remain unpaid," he stated. Mansfield also explained that town engineer Landtech hasn't had time to review the plans. Either was sufficient reason for the board to delay further action.
According to treasurer Nancy Koerner, back taxes for two years are due on one of the parcels.. In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Bert Gould told the Mosquito that the matter would be cleared up before the planning board's meeting on September 13.
A site walk for board members is scheduled for September 9 at 5 p.m.
West Street lots
A public hearing had been listed on the agenda to consider special permits for applicant Chris Fleming for a conservation cluster and common driveway to serve five lots at High Woods located at 662 West Street. When Fleming met with the board last November, he proposed an 18-acre parcel consisting of his existing house, four new lots of approximately two acres apiece, and 5.5 acres of open space.
"We abut the Pannell land in back," said Fleming at the time. "With this conservation cluster, we could hook up to the Pannell land, to Valentine's property, and to a landlocked parcel to the south. It would create a conservation corridor along the Acton line." The back of the Fleming property has Chapter 61A or agricultural status and will be offered to the town upon withdrawal, but the town will get the 5.5 acres free, with the cluster. The board had unanimously agreed at the November 23 meeting that a conservation cluster was the preferred plan.
Unfortunately, Mansfield had some bad news for Fleming and a contingent of West Street abutters. "There are only four board members present tonight and the bylaws require five to act on the issuance of a special permit," announced Mansfield. This resulted in anguished cries from the audience, "Why didn't you tell us before we wasted the evening!" But summertime is vacation time and the board is already down to six members with Kate Reid's six-month leave of absence, so Mansfield's only recourse was to reschedule the hearing for September 13.
Twelve residents of the Tall Pines subdivision requested, in a letter to the planning board, that granite curbing be required along all of Hutchins and Kimball Roads. Neighborhood representatives David Freedman and Walter Dray of Hutchins Road appeared at the Monday board meeting seeking an amendment to the Tall Pines definitive subdivision plan. The existing plan calls for curbing only at corners, wetlands, and grades over three percent. This covers about 70 percent of the two roadways and leaves some lots with partial curbing or no curbing at all.
"The result looks unfinished and, in some cases, quite odd," explained Freedman. "Our concern is not only about aesthetics. Without curbing, there is much more buildup of sand, dirt, and rocks along the road." Freedman also believes that the curbing being used is significantly below spec (3.5 inches by 11.5 inches versus the standard 6 inches by 18 inches). He tactfully suggested that the money saved by developer Bill Costello in using the more diminutive curbing could be used to finish the uncurbed areas.
Residents had previously contacted Costello about the matter and were advised to collectively negotiate with the curb contractor and pay to have the remaining 30 percent of curbing installed. Freedman held out little hope that residents would fund such a collective negotiation. Mansfield reminded everyone that specifications in 1992, when the plans were approved, only stated that, "curbing, if used, shall be granite." No curb dimensions were found on the plans and the standards cited by Freedman were based on state specifications.
Chair Bill Tice expressed sympathy for the Tall Pines residents and requested that town engineer LandTech look at the curbing and report back. Freedman emphasized that residents do not want anything to delay the already extended time frame for completion of the two roads.
Lowell Street construction
Developer William Delaney requested a joint public hearing with the planning board and tree warden for approval to remove approximately 20 feet of stone wall and several small trees within the right-of-way at 114 Lowell Street, a scenic road. "This is next to the Hilton house that was moved last year," explained Delaney. "I'm requesting a 20-foot driveway cut for a subdivided lot in back." Tree warden Gary Davis had previously visited the sight and found only two- and three-inch diameter trees, none large enough to cause concern. The board members were equally satisfied and voted 4-0 to approve the stone wall removal.
In a related project, Edward and Janet Gaffey submitted an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan to divide the lot at 114 Lowell Street into two parcels. This is within Residence District A and the resulting one-acre building lot accessed by the previously approved driveway is permitted by the town zoning bylaws. "Uh, oh," exclaimed the board members, "there's no ellipse (zoning bylaw 184.108.40.206) drawn on the ANR plan." Too bad, come back again on September 13.
Theodore Treibick submitted an ANR plan for his property at 151 Bedford Road and 138 East Street. The plan alters the lot lines of the 151 Bedford Road property in preparation for sale of the existing house and lot. It creates a four-acre porkchop lot from two widely separated parcels, one containing the house and the other a wetland, and joined by a thin strip of land. The higher ground behind the Bedford Road house will be combined with the remaining Treibick property off East Street. Although unusual, the plan meets all rules and regulations and was therefore endorsed by the board with a vote of 4-0.
Rutland Street swap
Abutters Richard Blanchard and Leo Blanchette of Rutland Street submitted an ANR plan to swap some land in order to provide Blanchard with access to a buildable lot. Everything seemed to be in order until (déjà vu) someone noticed that there was no ellipse (zoning bylaw 220.127.116.11) drawn on the ANR plan. They, too, will need to return to the planning board in September.
Prospect Street swap
The Schannens and the Chapmans of 109-127 Prospect Street wished to exchange a tiny 191-square-foot piece of land so that one family's driveway will not go on the neighbor's land. In this case of two existing houses, the board approved the ANR plan by a vote of 4-0.
The next scheduled meeting of the planning board is September 13.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito