The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 28, 2000


Municipal land committee wants a site review for all construction

The municipal land committee (MLC) is like the embodiment of the chat room on the Carlisle web site. This diverse group from the various town boards and committees brings to the table whatever strikes their fancy without being constrained by an agenda. Planning board representative Mike Abend said it best after the January 20 meeting, "We discuss issues related to municipal land so that we'll be prepared when the time comes."

Paul Morrison of the Carlisle School Committee talked about a possible Warrant article at the spring Town Meeting that would request $15,000 for a school land study. "We'd prefer not to take a bite out of Banta-Davis, but there's not much other land available," said Morrison. He explained that a maximum of 900 students can be handled on campus and enrollment is projected to exceed 800 next year. Warrant articles must be submitted by mid-March, so Morrison has another month to decide whether to proceed.

Abend brought a planning board issue to the meeting. "The [planning] board should do a site plan review of each municipal project. As it stands now, unless it's a subdivision or needs a special permit, you don't need to go in front of the planning board." Abend mentioned that the library got a site plan review from the planning board last year and found it very useful. The Town Hall building committee chose not to consult with the board and is still suffering from an awkward parking lot. "A site plan review is normal in other towns," continued Abend. "Maybe the MLC could recommend it for all municipal projects. For example, if we build a school at Banta-Davis, the traffic going in and out could be a nightmare."

"All we can do is make recommendations," conceded chair Burt Rubenstein. "Do we want to support a zoning bylaw requiring a site plan review?" Hearing an affirmative answer from the group, Rubenstein moved to recommend that the planning board draft a zoning bylaw requiring that all non-single family residential projects must go through a formal site review by the planning board. The motion passed by a vote of 6-0, led by two planning board members Abend and Louise Hara.

Educating the public

"We need to educate the town on what the committee does," suggested Rubenstein. "We should write an article for the Mosquito and the town report." Equally informative would be to learn what the townspeople want to do. This led to the idea of a local referendum at next fall's presidential election asking, "Do you want to purchase land for the town before a need is identified?" Rubenstein thought that an opposite phrasing might be more realistic. "Do you want to wait until the last minute and then scramble around and pay top dollar?"

Sell land?

The conversation then veered over to an unusual suggestion by the finance committee that the town sell some land to help pay for its recent extravagance and the FY01 budget shortfall. The parcel that comes to mind is the land off of Carriage Way on East Riding Drive that could net the town $250,000. Nothing attracts attention like a pile of unappropriated cash, which is why FinCom would place the money in the town stabilization fund for prudent disbursement. Marty Galligan of the housing authority couldn't disagree more. He believes that the money should be earmarked for affordable housing or a land fund. Morrison said he hopes that any attempt to put the money in a general fund "will be a very unpopular idea."

Rubenstein steered the group back to his proposal of educating the town about MLC. Members decided that the immediate goal is to write an article for the town report, which must be submitted by February 1. Then the committee will wait until next fall for referendum questions, such as the pros and cons of developing the town center, banking land for municipal purposes, and affordable housing issues. "How about a handout for spring Town Meeting?" suggested Abend, such as "information about what the MLC is doing." Member Jane Anderson was afraid that it would get lost in the shuffle, but Abend suggested that maybe they could set up a separate table for handouts.

That would be a great topic for another discussion, but it was getting late on a snowy evening and so the group decided to adjourn and meet again on Thursday, February 24.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito