The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 4, 2000


Gridlock on Swanson Lane common drive permit continues

The ongoing saga continued for an amendment to a common driveway special permit for Swanson Lane, as requested by David and Kristy Erickson. At their last meeting, the planning board read a letter from town counsel stating that the ANR (Approval Not Required) cannot be endorsed because the parcel is not deriving its frontage outside of the common driveway easement. This time, Erickson showed up with his lawyer.

Erickson wishes to amend the common driveway special permit to allow two more houses on Swanson Lane. This requires that he submit an ANR plan demonstrating legal access to Kimball Road by the five lots seeking a common driveway. But the additional porkchop lots must gain their access to Kimball Road through the existing easement for the Swanson Lane common driveway. Town counsel has stated that an ANR cannot be endorsed if it is deriving its frontage through a common driveway easement. The board can't amend the special permit unless the ANR is endorsed. It's a "Catch-22."

Erickson's attorney, Alex Parra, came forward with an armload of court cases supporting endorsement of similar ANR plans. As he vigorously argued the relevance of each case to Erickson's ANR, Parra was transformed into Perry (Mason) with the planning board members his enlightened jury. Unlike the TV courtroom, however, the jury began to argue back, after Parra finally rested his case.

Background on original permit

Member Michael Epstein recalled the issues that the planning board grappled with in 1994 when the Swanson Lane common driveway special permit was issued. The alternatives were a four-lot subdivision versus a three-lot common driveway. The common driveway was approved to preserve the neighborhood character and a narrow 12-foot wide bridge was chosen to minimize wetland impact, as requested by the conservation commission. If a five-lot common driveway had been proposed, then a full-width bridge would undoubtedly have been required. To counteract the problems posed by the narrow bridge, Joe March of Stamski and McNary recently added a 20,000-gallon cistern between the bridge and houses as requested by fire chief Bob Koning. He also lengthened the existing turnout in front of the fire cistern by ten feet and installed a wooden guardrail at the end of each headwall on the narrow bridge.

Board member Dan Holzman reasoned that if they did grant a common driveway amendment, then the ANR is no problem. Member Tom Lane reminded everyone that town counsel ruled against approval of the ANR, but gave no opinion on the common driveway. Epstein countered that the board has no obligation to grant a discretionary amendment to the special permit. Meanwhile, the residents of Swanson LaneKaren and Bill Glazier and Pat and John Kovachhave faithfully appeared at each hearing to voice their support for Erickson and the common driveway amendment. Conservationist Ken Harte is savoring the 3.8 acres of open space that Erickson plans to deed to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, but the legal gridlock goes on.

Chair Bill Tice tried to break the impasse with two recommendations. First, town engineer Landtech will review the latest changes proposed by March to ensure that the technical details are in order. Second, Parra will meet with town counsel in an attempt to break the legal gridlock. Tice will even enlist the services of Cupid by scheduling the next public hearing for February 14, Valentine's Day.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito