Friday, January 7, 2000
Planning board approves conservation cluster, common drive, subdivision
by Dave Ives
A banner on the planning board agenda said, "Final Meeting of the Millennium." Except for a smattering of old business that defies resolution, board members were able to clear the books at their December 13 meeting and were rewarded with smiles and holiday greetings from the delighted applicants.
West Street conservation cluster
Former resident, Chris Fleming, accumulated some more frequent flier miles as he once again returned to seek a special permit for his High Woods conservation cluster. He had succeeded at the October 25 meeting in obtaining special permits for a common driveway and conservation cluster serving five lots at 662 West Street. Everything was set for Fleming's move to Washington D.C. and closing on the West Street property until neighbor Barry Hoffman appealed the decision.
Hoffman was concerned that the storm runoff from the proposed conservation cluster would threaten his septic system. Both Fleming's engineer, Joe March of Stamski and McNary and town engineer Dale MacKinnon of EarthTech, were confident that the storm water management met all of the town's rules and regulations, but Hoffman's engineer, MetroWest, citing 100-year storm calculations, did not agree.
March unfolded the latest plans and explained that the common driveway is now located so as to avoid Hoffman's septic system. Board members assured themselves that no other relevant features of the cluster were compromised. All eyes then turned to Hoffman to see if he was satisfied with the new arrangement.
"I'm very comfortable with this and my engineer is comfortable with this," declared Hoffman to sighs of relief throughout the room. Conservationist Ken Harte confirmed that boundaries of the open space parcel were properly realigned and stated, "I'm fine with this; it's an excellent plan." Member Michael Abend quickly moved to approve the common driveway special permit and included some final details, such as street sign and mailbox location, and submission of a maintenance agreement. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0, with member Michael Epstein (ineligible) abstaining. Fleming then bade a fond farewell to all seated at the head table and cheerfully headed back to Washington, hopefully for the last time.
Concord Street common drive
A public hearing was held for a common driveway special permit as requested by Judith Petit and John Dowcett to serve two lots at 646-698 Concord Street. Russ Wilson of R. Wilson and Associates presented plans for a 280-foot driveway to access a two-acre lot and 4.25-acre lot on the "Coppermine" property. Wilson explained that the driveway follows an existing dirt road and will require minimum disturbance to the landscape.
Abutter Chip Dewing had no problem with the plans and commented, "[Contractor] John Dowcett is doing a great job. Why are we here tonight?" Chair Bill Tice explained that the board is involved from a safety standpoint and requires a special permit and maintenance agreement for each common driveway, even if it's only serving two houses. It is also a chance for abutters, such as Dewing, to raise any concerns at a public hearing. There were no other comments from the audience.
Member Michael Abend did have one concern. Since the proposed common driveway will serve two houses yet to be built, "What if the owners later decide to build separate driveways? The common driveway is intended for safety." A restriction to prevent this was included in Epstein's motion to grant the special permit, along with other conditions, such as underground utilities and mailbox placement. The motion passed by a vote of 5-0, with member Louise Hara recused as an abutter.
Curve Street subdivision
Attorney Joseph Shanahan, representing Paul C. Hart, appeared before the board to request endorsement of an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan that is a precursor for Hart Farm Estates off Curve Street. The 100-acre subdivision, with half of the land being donated to the town, is presently "landlocked" and requires some shuffling of property to allow access.
March revealed a complex plan that swaps land owned by the families of Ohs, Kirkland and Hart as part of the purchase and sale agreement. The net result is a 50-foot right of way into the Hart property to access 12 lots via a 1,550-foot road consisting of two cul-de-sacs. The plan also creates a thirteenth lot with rights for a driveway onto Curve Street. Everything was in order and the board voted unanimously to endorse the ANR, much to Shanahan's delight as he gave everyone a big grin and "Happy Holidays!"
Selectman Vivian Chaput rose from the audience to briefly address the board members on the subject of the Senior Residential Open Space Community (SROSC). "I just want to bring SROSC back onto your radar screen," she explained. Section 5.7 of the town bylaws presently requires that individual units in an SROSC be limited to 1,400 square feet and that the minimum age of the owner/occupant be 62 years. Chaput was a member of the planning board when the original bylaw was adopted. At the time, the 1,400 square foot limit was chosen to allow higher density with less impact on the land and to provide more affordable units. The age limit of 62 was thought to be more appropriate for the purpose of the housing.
A Warrant article never moved at the May 1999 Town Meeting attempted to increase the maximum size of a living unit to 2,400 square feet and lower the minimum age to 55. "It's in the town's best interest to have seniors stay in town," said Chaput, hinting that the bylaw change may be proposed again at the Spring Town Meeting. "I just wanted to bring it to your attention at a public meeting," explained Chaput as she returned to her seat.
Swanson Lane lots
David Erickson would like to amend the Swanson Lane common driveway special permit. He hopes to subdivide 16 acres of land located off Kimball Road and Fiske Street and create two new lots accessed from Swanson Lane. In addition, he plans to donate 3.8 acres abutting the McAfee conservation land to the town. A continued public hearing opened with a discussion on whether the hearing had been properly advertised, since there were changes planned to the common driveway that were not mentioned in the announcement. The board eventually decided that the notice was broad enough to cover any changes and besides, the abutters were all seated in the audience.
Dennis and Joanne Rainville of Swanson Lane asked for an update on what is proposed. March unrolled the site map and pointed out the general location of a 20,000-gallon cistern, requested by fire chief Bob Koning, beyond the narrow 12-foot-wide bridge. March also offered to place eight feet of guardrail on both sides of the bridge entrance where the lane narrows from 20 to 12 feet. The 20-foot road width beyond the bridge will also be extended by 10-15 feet to provide better access to the cistern.
Koning attended the meeting and made no secret of his disdain for the narrow bridge, which is constricted to reduce impact on the wetland. "I never thought the bridge was wide enough from day one," he commented. Koning's cistern requirement is based on future plans for five homes on Swanson Lane and concern that the narrow bridge is an impediment to fire hoses and apparatus. March explained that the cistern would necessitate clearing a 30-foot by 45-foot strip of woodland. Although it doesn't require filling wetland, it is within the buffer zone and needs conservation commission approval.
The common driveway maintenance agreement presents a dilemma. The driveway is being changed, which may violate the agreement even though residents sharing the driveway will benefit from the cistern. Would this establish a bad precedent for other common driveway modifications? Member Dan Holzman was optimistic and commented, "I don't think it's precedent-setting and I like the idea of a cistern." Member Tom Lane was equally positive and added, "I think everybody will be satisfied." He then cautioned, "I just want to make sure they get the chance to express that satisfaction in the maintenance agreement."
Epstein felt that there were enough concerns to justify getting advice from town counsel. Erickson and March were asked to come back with an updated plan showing the guardrails and cistern specifications. The public hearing will continue on January 10 at 9 p.m. That is the date of the next scheduled meeting of the planning board, and members also plan to discuss procedures for adoption of rules and regulations for administering personal wireless service facilities.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito