Friday, November 5, 1999
West Street conservation cluster approved, finally
Chris Fleming returned once again to face planning board members in his bid for special permits for a conservation cluster and common driveway to serve five lots on 17 acres at 662 West Street. Fleming has been a fixture at recent meetings and his determination is impressive. It finally paid off at the October 25 meeting of the planning board.
Fleming cited three outstanding issues that he believes are now resolved. First was the common driveway name confusion. There's a Powder Mill Road in Acton, Concord, and Maynard and Fleming wants to avoid fire chief Bob Koning's disfavor. "The new common driveway name is High Woods Lane," announced Fleming. In a letter to planning administrator George Mansfield, Koning had no problem with the new name, but raised another issue. "Currently, there is no existing fire water source in the area," Koning observed. "As a result of the length of the driveway and the size of the dwellings, one 20,000-gallon fire cistern will be required on the common driveway, not more than 100 feet from West Street on a level area."
A fire cistern is not required for a development with only four new houses. Fleming was not thrilled with the thought of providing a $70,000 cistern for the West Street neighborhood, but he was clearly under pressure to receive board approval. John and Katherine Forelli had purchased Fleming's house and were waiting to move in. But if Fleming sold the house and lot from his proposed development, it wouldn't leave enough frontage for the proof plan needed to create the conservation cluster. "We'll provide a cistern," sighed Fleming.
Engineer Joe March of Stamski and McNary unrolled the preliminary plan on the head table and board members selected a location for the cistern that met Koning's requirements. Unfortunately, it was on the property that Forelli is buying, causing him to spring forward in protest. His concerns about liability and safety caused the board members to search again; they finally settled on a compromise. The cistern will be located on the opposite side of the driveway from Forelli and further into the development, about 450 feet from West Street. This might spark a protest from the fire chief, but he wasn't there and the meeting harmoniously moved on to the next issue.
"Eight- to ten-foot white pines will be added along the common driveway to screen abutters," explained Fleming. This grabbed member Dan Holzman's attention since he had long held white pine in disdain for its tendency to grow like a weed and lose its lower screening branches. "How about cedar?" Holzman countered. This germinated a forest of other favorite trees from board members until Fleming offered to plant whatever trees are deemed appropriate.
The final issue of drainage was anti-climactic. March proposed that an infiltration trench be built along one side of the driveway to intercept run-off and allow the water to soak into the ground. Dale MacKinnon, town engineer from EarthTech, stated, "Based on drainage calculations, it appears that the proposed infiltration trench will decrease the run-off from the site to less than the existing conditions." He did have some concern about the natural depression in Lot 5 that might cause flooding of the new house or driveway, and this was included later in conditions of the special permit.
While all this was going on, conservationist Ken Harte had been perusing the site map and frowning at the irregular boundary of the open space parcel. He proposed straightening the boundary by taking some land from a 2.5-acre building lot and adding it to the 5.3 acres of open space, thus making the conservation land more valuable. It also provided a buffer strip to the Tenneco gas line easement along the town line. Everyone thought this was a great idea and Harte scored another victory for the conservation effort.
Deb Belanger of the bike-pedestrian safety committee was persistent. She gave a long, impassioned plea asking for compensation to the Carlisle Pathway Trust to defray the cost of a pathway study for West Street. "Somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000," she suggested to Fleming, who was already $70,000 in the hole since the meeting began. The board acquiesced.
Member Michael Epstein moved for approval of the conservation cluster and common driveway special permit for High Woods, with several conditions including:
· open space be reconfigured to straighten lot lines;
· a 20,000-gallon fire cistern be located 450 feet in from West Street;
· regrade Lot 5 to address potential flooding;
· contribute $5,000 to the Pathway Trust for construction of paths in town. Members approved the motion by a vote of 5-0, with Epstein abstaining for no given reason.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito