Friday, May 19, 2000
Underground cistern and Rutland Street visibility stall Great Brook plans
It was 11 p.m. on May 8 and energy in the Heald Room was waning as Albert Gould and Betsy Goldenberg continued their quest for planning board approval of the Great Brook Estates subdivision. They are seeking a special permit for a conservation cluster and common driveway and have submitted a definitive subdivision plan with nine lots (plus a bonus lot) on a 1,000-foot cul-de-sac at 195 Rutland Street. At the last meeting, member Michael Epstein asked, "Are we getting enough bang for the bonus?" referring to the minimum amount of open space being set aside to qualify for a bonus lot.
A conservation cluster must have ten or more acres and the applicant chose just three lots totaling 12.75 acres to qualify. This minimized the open space to just 3.83 acres, barely above the required 30 percent. The limited size also meant that one driveway has to cross an open space buffer zone to reach Lot 9 outside the cluster. Planning board members suggested that if two additional lots (6 and 9) were included in the cluster, especially four-acre Lot 9 that requires the buffer zone crossing, then most of their concerns go away. A somewhat disgruntled Gould agreed to let his engineer Gary Shepard of David Ross Associates study the possibilities and return at the next meeting with the results.
"You were right," announced Shepard to the vindicated board members on May 8. "The planning board suggestion is much better. Adding Lot 6 and Lot 9 to the conservation cluster was a great idea." He went on to extol the virtues of the five-lot cluster plus bonus lot and proudly revealed that the open space parcel has now grown to 5.72 acres. The driveway buffer zone issue goes away because that house is now part of the cluster. In addition, Shepard rerouted the network of common driveways that connect five houses to the Great Brook Path cul-de-sac. The new arrangement features a central spine with driveways branching from each side, just as the planning board had requested. There were smiles all up and down the head table.
Shepard added to his accolades by announcing to attendees Deb Belanger and Kristine Bergenheim of the bike/pedestrian safety committee that Great Brook Path would have a sidewalk along its entire length. The curbing on both sides will be the planning board's latest favorite, modified Cape Cod berm. With acknowledgement to fire chief Bob Koning, Shepard boasted that the subdivision would have two 20,000-gallon cisterns, one at each end of the roadway. Then, he went one step too far with his engineering accomplishments. "The cistern near the entrance onto Rutland Street will be located under the roadway," said Shepard.
The smiles disappeared. Board members had visions of ten families trapped in Great Brook Estates while a collapsed cistern is replaced and the surrounding wetlands preclude any bypass of traffic. Member Dan Holzman tried to restore confidence by relating how he survived for three days on Blaisdell Drive after a tree fell over and blocked access. But member Michael Epstein needed more assurance and suggested that they ask the town engineer about the ramifications of cistern replacement and loss of access. Shepard's hope of subdivision approval was dashed for at least two more weeks.
It was now well past midnight, but Michael Abend had another concern. "I'm worried about making a left turn from Rutland Street into Great Brook Path, against oncoming traffic." Abend has driven past this intersection many times and claims that limited visibility and the slope of Rutland Street make this a potential hazard. Shepard disagreed and pleaded that any alterations to Rutland Street would add 90 days to the approval process. After arguing back and forth for 15 minutes, the late hour took its toll and both agreed to meet at the intersection in the next few days and try to resolve their differences. The public hearing will be continued at the next planning board meeting on May 22.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito