Friday, November 5, 1999
Residents oppose developer's request to release Pine Meadows lots
A sizable crowd turned out for a public hearing regarding an amendment to the Pine Meadows definitive subdivision plan. Developer Bill Costello seeks to have Lots 1 and 2, on the corner of Maple Street and Davis Road, released for sale and building purposes.
The Pine Meadows subdivision's Certificate of Approval, dated May 29, 1997, states that Lots 1 and 2 shall be set aside for purposes of providing light and air and/or recreation, and that no building shall be erected without prior approval of the planning board for a period of three years. Costello believes that his original agreement required a set-aside of only one lot for one year, but this is refuted by his signed Certificate of Approval recorded in the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds.
A robust economy prompted Costello to seek early release of the lots so that he can benefit from development of the lots. In a letter to planning administrator George Mansfield, Costello stated that both lots are under agreement and buyers are planning to install foundations before winter. An existing water well is a pre-condition for a building permit, but the well permit can only be issued if the planning board releases the lots. If abutters have their way, the board will hold Costello to the original three-year agreement.
Opposition to release
The homes in Pine Meadows have been selling for over $800,000, which leaves little hope that the town can afford to buy the lots for recreation or other purposes. That did not deter town residents. Lauren Schmitt of Audubon Lane was the first to voice her disapproval. "I oppose letting him out of it. There's only a year left in the agreement. Who knows what could happen?" Joseph Heard of Maple Street agreed. "There won't be any meadows in Pine Meadows if these lots are released."
Kathy Coyle of Maple Street had been present at the original Pine Meadows hearings and she doubted that Costello was unaware of the agreement. "Mr. Costello was here and had plenty of time to appeal. I'm against releasing the lots." Tony Mariano, Sr. of Page Brook Road explained that Pine Meadows is part of a pre-glacial river bed that links into the O'Rourke aquifer and is the best water resource that the town has. "We should very seriously consider keeping these lots open. They may be expensive, but it will be a lot more expensive if the town needs water."
Doug Stevenson, chair of the board of selectmen, informed the audience that the selectmen voted last spring not to release the lots. The conservation commission is also not in favor. Encouraged by Stevenson's remarks, Luisa Heard of Maple Street replied, "I ask the board to get creative and make things happen!" It was left to member Michael Abend to voice the only dissenting opinion. "I'm in favor of release. The town can ill afford to buy these lots. I'd rather see two houses than a soccer field being used days and nights and weekends."
The issue clearly struck a nerve and is far from resolution. Member Michael Epstein moved to continue the public hearing on November 8 at 8:15 p.m. Members approved the motion by a vote of 5-0, with Abend recused because he is an abutter.
Joe March, co-owner of Stamski and McNary, is concerned because his surveyors have all developed back problems. Rules and Regulations state that boundary markers must be made of granite or another type specifically approved by the planning board. A five-foot granite boundary marker weighs several hundred pounds and regulations call for 150 markers to be installed throughout the Tall Pines subdivision. March believes that concrete markers, which are lighter in weight, will do the job almost as well without disabling his entire survey team. The board agreed by a vote of 6-0.
West Street ANR
Two Approval Not Required (ANR) plans turned out to be anything but. Ted Bush of West Street is trying to swap a small piece of land with his neighbor to provide some additional setback for a garage. Unfortunately, the plan contained several errors, such as lots incorrectly labeled and not shown in full. The board voted not to endorse the ANR plan due to failure to file a full and complete submission, satisfying subdivision rules and regulations.
Theodore Treibick's ANR plan also ran afoul of the board. "This is the ultimate Gerrymandered lot!" exclaimed Holzman. Treibick is attempting to create a four-acre porkchop lot out of two widely separated parcels connected by a sliver of land. This brought forth renewed demand by the board members for a bylaw amendment that would establish requirements for lot regularity. The coefficient of regularity is calculated by multiplying the lot area by 16 and dividing the result by the square of the perimeter. The number, which is a dimensionless coefficient, must be greater than 0.4 to qualify.
Board members attempted to decipher Treibick's boundaries using a highlighter pen, but the effort ended in total confusion. Epstein moved that the board not endorse the ANR plan due to failure to file a full and complete submission satisfying subdivision rules and regulations. The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.
The next scheduled meeting of the planning board is November 8.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito