Friday, May 5, 2000
Proposed real estate office sent to board of health for clearance
The board of selectmen continued their site review of the increased use of 7 School Street for business purposes. The 200-year-old building has a history of commercial use and is now proposed as a satellite office for Carlson Real Estate. Most of the discussion has focused on the parking problem that such a business would create. The combination of a limited number of spaces, a mix with residential parking, the grade of School Street, and the need for parkers to back out onto School Street creates a substandard situation.At the selectmen's April 25 meeting, the mention of septic system and wells touched off a whole new subject of controversy.
Attorney Howard Speicher presented plans for increased parking on the premises through widening the driveway by ten feet to allow for diagonal parking. "However, we don't agree that we are creating a parking problem," explained Speicher, "We don't want to turn the town center into a parking lot." Speicher admitted that the proposed driveway is not an ideal parking lot in that you can't turn around and therefore still have to back out. He repeatedly returned to his original premise that they don't require more parking than the previous use and therefore don't need to provide additional spaces. They are willing to help keep the sanctity of adjoining private parking lots with warning signs and a barrier hedge. Speicher insists that the building is zoned for business use and they can use it for such purposes "by right" without the need for a site plan review.
Selectman Michael Fitzgerald justified the need to evaluate parking, septic system and well by reading a section of the town bylaws stating that a site plan review is required for "more intensive business use on the site of a previous business." George Senkler, who owns an abutting building, submitted a letter, through his attorney Richard Gallogly, reminding selectmen that the applicant must comply with six zoning bylaw provisions listed in section 7.6.3. "Failure to comply with any of the six criteria set forth [in the bylaws] is sufficient grounds for the board of selectmen to withhold site plan approval. In this instance, the proposed use fails to comply with any of the six criteria," stated Gallogly.
Septic system and wells
One of the six criteria involves increased discharge to the existing septic system and protection of property owners with wells in the area. Celia Zimmerman of Bedford Road described the myriad of water contamination issues in the town center. "Any increase in use of the septic system and well can affect water quality," she asserted. A petition to the selectmen signed by 22 town residents warned that the proposed business will have an adverse effect on the neighborhood due to increased traffic, inadequate parking, and risk of contamination to water supplies in the center.
Selectman Vivian Chaput was convinced. "I will not approve this until after approval by the board of health," she unequivocally stated. Selectman John Ballantine reacted to the applicant's disappointment by explaining, "You are hitting a tipping point. All the issues are accumulatingtraffic, water, new library." Speicher offered to arrange for a Title 5 inspection of the septic system, which he admitted was "old," to settle once and for all whether it is adequate to meet the needs of increased use.
The selectmen then voted 5-0 to continue the site plan review until such time that a Title 5 examination has been completed and they have received a recommendation from the board of health.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito