Friday, May 5, 2000
Planning board questions if Great Brook cluster worthy of bonus lot
Albert Gould and Betsy Goldenberg are in the home stretch with their Great Brook Estates subdivision with nine lots (plus a bonus lot) on a 1,000-foot cul-de-sac at 195 Rutland Street. They seek a special permit for a conservation cluster and common driveway and have submitted a definitive subdivision plan for final approval. The public hearing has been ongoing since March 13 with various and sundry changes being made to enhance the design. Approximately 3.83 acres will be given over to open space in exchange for a bonus tenth lot. At the April 24 meeting, Gary Shepard of David Ross Associates proudly displayed a color map of the final project and eagerly awaited the planning board's enthusiastic approval. Ten arborvitae trees were added to the Puffer (an abutter) buffer for good measure and a fire cistern will be located at each end of Great Brook Path, as requested.
"We don't like it," declared acting chair Michael Epstein, speaking for the board members. Two issues emerged as sticking points. The first was the network of common driveways that connect five houses to the Great Brook Path cul-de-sac. Members envisioned an ambulance trying to locate the furthest house, with the patient expiring as the driver took yet another wrong turn. Member Michael Abend suggested a common spine to the driveway, with stubs to each house rather than a series of left and right forks as presented. "Maybe even add 200 feet to the cul-de-sac and eliminate those funny driveways," he advised.
The second concern was more esoteric. "Are we getting enough bang for the bonus?" pondered Epstein. A conservation cluster must have ten or more acres and the applicant has chosen just three lots with acreage totaling 12.75 to qualify. This reduces the amount of open space needed to meet the 30-percent minimum. But limiting the size also requires one driveway to cross an open space buffer zone to reach the house on Lot 9, outside the cluster.
Gould was obviously upset at this change of fortune and reminded the board that they had approved the conceptual and preliminary plan. "If you change your mind now, we may abandon the conservation cluster entirely," he threatened. "Approval of the preliminary plan doesn't bind us to approve the definitive plan," Abend responded. "Maybe we should stay with nine lots and a trail easement instead of a cluster and open space." State Park supervisor Ray Faucher was quick to request that, if they chose an easement, the rules of use be consistent with those of the park to allow mountain bikes, horses, etc.
A saner solution gradually emerged. If two additional lots (6 and 9) are included in the cluster, especially four-acre Lot 9 that requires the buffer zone crossing, then most of the concerns are avoided. The open space will need to be increased, but this could include a one-acre 40-foot strip that Lot 9, a pork chop lot, uses to access the main road. The suggestion seemed reasonable and Gould agreed to study the possibilities and return at the next meeting with the results.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito