Friday, April 21, 2000
Plans for Curve Street cluster show 12 lots, 78 acres of open space
On April 10, the Carlisle Planning Board got a close look at plans for 115 acres off Curve Street which, if developed as a conservation cluster, could garner 78 acres of open space.
Paul and Helen Hart have submitted a definitive subdivision plan for Hart Farm Estates, adjacent to 893 Curve Street, along with an application for a special permit for a conservation cluster and common driveway. Approval of a special permit requires an affirmative vote of five board members who have been in attendance for the duration of the public hearing. Since chair Bill Tice is not seeking re-election and another member was absent at the March 27 meeting, Hart's attorney Joseph Shanahan elected to postpone the hearing until April 10. This time, Shanahan was greeted by a full contingent of seven smiling faces from behind the head table.
Joe March of Stamski and McNary presented the subdivision plan for the 115-acre property. "Sixty-five acres will be donated to the town," March proudly revealed, much to the delight of conservation leaders Art Milliken and Greg Peterson seated in the audience. "In addition," continued March, "the conservation cluster will contain 13.5 acres of open space, preserving a total of 78 acres out of the 115-acre property." This was especially appealing to board member Louise Hara, also a member of the trails committee, since it provides a link between the Wang-Coombs property and the Cranberry Bog. Hara is always alert to new trail possibilities and asked whether the developer might be willing to subsidize a few sections of boardwalk across the damper parts of a new connecting trail. Shanahan, warming to his benefactor role, thought it a reasonable idea and agreed to consider the request.
The subdivision plan that March unfolded and placed on the easel in the front of the Clark Room contained an unusual feature. The 1,044-foot long cul-de-sac off Curve Street, known as Hart Farm Road, had only one house. This puzzled town counsel as well, and at their urging, March added a second house to satisfy the legal definition of a subdivision. Its only purpose was to establish the basis for the next plan, which carved out 11 Approval Not Required (ANR) lots along Hart Farm Road. The final step in the process depicted five lots with direct access to Hart Farm Road and then grouped six house sites, plus a bonus lot for the conservation cluster, around an 850-foot common driveway.
The end result is a subdivision of 12 lots that meets the legal definition of a conservation cluster with 13.5 acres of open space. Board members noticed that the abutting Kirkland property contained a pork chop lot with enough acreage and frontage on Curve Street to qualify for a thirteenth lot. "That has nothing to do with us," Shanahan responded, "but it could be in the best interest to allow access off Hart Farm Road and eliminate a driveway so near to the new road." No one on the board disagreed.
Town engineer Sandra Brock of Judith Nitsch Engineering had some words of warning about the admittedly wet building sites. "We're going to see raised roads with humps where houses and septic systems are. With the high groundwater, we may create two mounded-up lots with pond water in between." This might appeal to the fire department as another source of water, but just to be safe, fire chief Bob Koning has already put in a request for three fire cisterns to service the subdivision.
Issues with trails
Hara, having achieved some success with her dream of a new trail, now sought to provide access to the trail along Hart Farm Road. "I would like to see a six-foot shoulder with mown grass along the entire length of the road and common driveway," she requested. This appealed to the other board members, especially since the raised road would only provide a limited space for pedestrians to escape from oncoming cars. There will be 50 feet of sidewalk at the entrance to Curve Street for kids waiting for the school bus, but otherwise, "We don't want to see sidewalks," stated Tice.
Access to the new trail brought up a touchy subject. Member Michael Epstein preferred that Hart Farm Road remain private so that there would be a common maintenance agreement for the road and common driveway. Member Dan Holzman disagreed, "We've had many unpleasant experiences with private roads and no-trespassing signs. I would just as soon have the town accept the road." Members had recently grappled with trail access to the state park via private Aberdeen Drive and were painfully aware of Holzman's concerns. Shanahan seemed agreeable to a deed requirement that would ensure public access to the conservation land.
Peterson had a unique, civic-minded proposal for Shanahan. "Would your client be willing to sell, at full market value, two lots for the purposes of affordable housing?" Shanahan's largess finally reached its limit. Citing the lengthy process he and his client had endured before the board, where the number of lots had been cut to the bone and over half the land donated to the town, Shanahan declined the offer. "It's too late in the process to shoehorn in," he responded emphatically.
Other issues need further discussion and Tice said he would try to continue the public hearing on April 24, but it might have to wait until May 8 because of four Warrant article hearings scheduled for the next meeting.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito