The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 7, 2000


BOH approves new rules, resolves to tighten further

The Carlisle Board of Health approved revised subdivision regulations and appointed a board physician at its last meeting of the year on December 14. Chair Steve Opolski and new member Lisa Davis Lewis dealt with a full agenda that evening which included two additional public hearings and rulings on six septic plans.

The new subdivision regulations passed with only minor editing and will be effective February 1. However, open discussion highlighted the fact that the enhanced regulations still fall short of town needs.

Resident Barry Hoffman of 640 West Street used High Woods, a neighboring conservation cluster recently approved by the planning board, to exemplify the issues. Although the planning board conducted its own engineering review of surface water run-off, Hoffman had to hire his own contractor to demonstrate that groundwater run-off from the new construction would adversely affect his septic system. Hoffman reached an agreement with Chris Fleming, the owner of the High Woods land, which facilitated approval of the plan.

"I think there's a big picture issue that is not being seen by the town boards," said Hoffman. He added, "Who is looking at abutter risks with these developments? Who is bringing these people to the board of health?"

Abutters of properties under discussion by the planning board and board of health are invited to attend meetings. However, the weight of abutter concerns greatly depends on the type of development. Abutters have the most input on subdivisions, less on common driveways, and even less on conservation clusters. The planning board will consider abutter input on surface water data, screening issues and the appearance of the road. The board of health, on the other hand, requires verification of lot lines, and may request locations of neighboring septic systems and wells.

Planning board member Dan Holzman, who presented his board's editing to the regulations, clarified the responsibilities of the two boards. "We do not have a mandate to protect public health. That's yours. We have a mandate to protect safety....There aren't any gray areas in terms of responsibility," he continued, "but there are areas of interest to the town that are not covered by either board. There are definitely gaps."

Holzman believes that requiring developers to completely investigate and satisfy all abutter issues wouldn't be fair with only about ten percent of the town's land left for development. He said, "Just because you are in the last ten percent doesn't mean that you should lose your rights."

Nonetheless, with public health a possible concern, Opolski plans to take a more aggressive stance on the board of health to strengthen regulations. "There are still holes in our regulations," he said, "We will continue to work on improving them this next year."

Two public hearings concluded

The board of health reviewed and conditionally approved plans pending an engineering review for a studio addition at 506 River Road, owned by Susan and Mike Toth. The board determined the addition would not push the dwelling over the seven-bedroom limit allowed by the site's septic system. Carlisle regulations define the size of a bedroom as 70 square feet and 7.5 feet tall. If the room also includes a window and a door, it qualifies as a bedroom.

After discussion, the BOH also decided not to cite installer Sean Tocci for installing a septic system after the December 1 cutoff date. Tocci could have lost his license to work in town for six months. The board had sent a letter to the installer requiring completion of the system in 1999 but they had not presented him with the option of stopping work and completing the system next spring.

Six plans

The board reviewed the following septic design systems and:

· Approved a fully compliant plan for 1183 Westford Road for the Gordon residence (Stamski and McNary);

· Approved a revised plan for East Street, Lot E-3 (Russ Wilson, Inc.);

· Approved a redesigned plan for Wilkins Lane, Lot 39B, pending submission of legible blueprints (Stamski and McNary);

· Approved a plan for Kimball Road, Lot 28B, pending a conservation commission review of work proposed in buffer zone (Stamski and McNary);

· Signed plans for Oak Knoll, Lot 7A (Stamski and McNary);

· Signed plans for 169 Church Street (Acton Survey).

Undoubtedly, septic system designs will continue to be on the BOH's agenda well into this century.

New BOH regulations

Under the new requirements for subdivisions, conservation clusters, and senior residential open space clusters, applicants for special permits will need to provide:

· A topographic field survey.

· Accurate locations of wetlands, brooks, streams, and surface bodies of water.

· High-water levels (taken during the spring season) and percolation tests on each of the proposed lots.

· Precise locations of the proposed sewage disposal system, the well and reserve leaching areas on each lot.

· Dwelling footprint on each lot.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito