The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 3, 2000


Planning board thwarts effort to add homes on Swanson Lane

Cupid was conspicuously absent at the planning board meeting on Valentine's Day. Those attending were in no mood for romance and any love songs were overwhelmed by a sad rendition of "Hearts and Flowers."

The grand finale finally arrived for David and Kristy Erickson. They would like to amend a common driveway special permit to allow two more houses on Swanson Lane. This requires that Erickson submit an ANR (Approval Not Required) plan demonstrating legal access to Kimball Road by the five lots seeking a common driveway. Town counsel believes that the ANR cannot be endorsed because the parcel is not deriving its frontage outside of the common driveway easement. The board can't amend the special permit unless the ANR is endorsed. Such was the impasse when the public hearing was continued on January 24.

Since then, Erickson's attorney Alex Parra submitted a letter to town counsel, as advised by the planning board, explaining his beliefs in the case. Town counsel responded with a letter to Parra. Town engineer Landtech sent a letter to the board with some concerns about the fire cistern that Erickson has agreed to build as requested by fire chief Bob Koning. And Stamski and McNary responded to Landtech with a letter resolving those concerns. After everybody had caught up on their correspondence, it remained only for the board to pass judgment.

Member Michael Epstein summarized his understanding by stating, "Town counsel agrees that the planning board has the legal right to consider an amendment to the common driveway special permit to allow an additional two lots to access the [Swanson Lane] common driveway." This was the breakthrough everyone had been waiting for and it seemed for a moment that Erickson's ordeal was finally over. That's when everything turned sour.

The two families who presently live on Swanson Lane didn't attend the meeting, but Karen and Bill Glazier, who live next door on Kimball Lane, did. Neither had a kind word to say about adding two more houses to the neighborhood. Bill Glazier was especially critical of the narrow bridge that has caused so much dismay to the board members. "It took a moving van a half-hour to get over the bridge," claimed Glazier. Even though the van operator may have flunked driving school, it only renewed everyone's fears of the 12-foot wide constriction in the common driveway.

Member Dan Holzman was more optimistic about the bridge. "I don't think we'd do it any differently today," he said, referring to the original 1994 special permit. "It resulted in minimum impact on the wetland." Then Holzman challenged everyone by asking, "Are you better off with two more lots, a fire cistern, and land donated to conservation? I believe you are!" Holzman backed his words by proposing that the board accept Erickson's common driveway amendment, contingent on installation of a fire cistern, no further development beyond five houses, and donation of 3.9 acres to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation. The drawn-out controversy was finally coming to a head.

Epstein asked the board, "How would we feel about this if someone came in and proposed five lots on a common driveway?" His feelings were clear. "No, I'm not comfortable with expanding to five lots." Member Michael Abend thought that the common driveway amendment was only creating the opportunity to build two more houses where none can exist now. "We shouldn't be in the business of facilitating development," he asserted. Member Louise Hara spoke wistfully of the conservation land, but even the vision of a trail network couldn't offset her concern about the narrow bridge. An ominous silence hung over the Clark Room.

Erickson and attorney Parra pleaded with the board in a valiant last-ditch effort to salvage their case, but the members had made up their mind. The final vote to amend the common driveway special permit was defeated by a vote of 2 (in favor) to 4 (opposed), with member Kate Reid, who was on leave during the previous hearings, abstaining. Reid did wrap up some loose ends by moving that the board not endorse Erickson's ANR. It passed by a vote of 6-0, with Holzman abstaining. The board decided to keep the public hearing open until the next meeting so that they could draft an opinion on why the amendment was denied. This also leaves the door open a crack for one last counter-proposal by Erickson and Parra.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito