The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 7, 2000


Decision delayed on real estate office

It's the location, location, location of a proposed real estate office at 7 School Street in the town center which caused the selectmen to delay action on the site plan approval request at their March 28 meeting.

Representing tenant Carlson Real Estate, attorney Howard Speicher made two alternative arguments to the board. First, Speicher argued that site plan approval was not necessary under the bylaw because the proposed use as a satellite real estate office will not be a more intensive business use of the site. Speicher pointed to a continuous stream of commercial uses of the site since 1809, including use as a wheelwright shop, general store, post office, antique shop, tea room and retail distributor. With only one person working at the site on a regular basis and other brokers using it on an ad hoc basis, said Speicher, "It will be a very low-key operation."

The selectmen unanimously rejected this first argument, which did not seem to surprise Speicher. "We're not going there hoping there will be no activity," he observed.

Speicher's second argument was that, even if site plan approval is required, the use should be approved based on the materials already submitted. These materials did not include a Title 5 septic inspection, as requested by the board of health. The planning board also noted in its recommendations to the board of selectmen that, based on plans they had received, there were deficiencies in parking and pedestrian access, and more information was necessary to consider issues of drainage, septic system, setbacks and screening.

"Since the board has determined that site plan approval is necessary, we should continue the hearing until the proponent satisfies all requirements of the site plan approval bylaw," said selectman Vivian Chaput. Specifically, the selectmen requested the following additional information: location and inspection of the septic system, more specific assessment of the increased use, a better solution to the parking issues (acknowledging that paving the front yard is not appropriate), and addressing the question of limiting pedestrian and vehicular access from Bedford Road.

Various residents spoke against the proposal. Lowell Street resident Suzanne Drury felt that the use would be extremely unsafe. Lowell Street resident John Lee brought up the serious water and septic issues in the town center.

Under Carlisle's zoning bylaw, the board of selectmen must approve a site plan prior to the establishment of a more intensive business use on the site of a previous business. The bylaw also requires site plan approval prior to the construction of a new building for commercial use in any business district, construction of an addition or alteration of any existing building for business use or establishment of a business use in an existing building not theretofore used for such purposes. There is an article on the Warrant for the May Town Meeting which would expand site plan approval to any non-residential use in all districts.

The hearing was continued to April 25.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito