Friday, November 24, 2000
Senior housing age lowered to 55; Planning board accepts church expansion plan
The planning board approved a lower age limit of 55 and changes in building space requirements for the Malcolm Meadows senior housing complex. In a separate action at their November 13 meeting, the board voted to recommend the site plan for the Congregational Church expansion, sending it to the board of selectmen, the permitting authority for the project.
Senior housing by-laws
The spring 2000 Town Meeting had approved changes in the by-law governing senior housing, lowering the age limit for residents to 55 and changing the requirements for square footage and building configuration. The Malcolm Meadows Trustees, represented by their president Bill Reeder requested the action to take advantage of the new by-law. The requested changes to the condominium's Special Permit would allow:
· No more than three units per building
· No more than two bedrooms per unit
· No building more than 6000 square feet
· At least one resident in each unit must be age 55 or older
· No resident may be under age 18
· If there is no longer a senior (age 55 or older) living in a unit, the residents have two years to transfer the unit to an eligible household
Lower age, more traffic
When the Board opened the hearing to comments from the public, Deb Webster, an abutter to Malcolm Meadows, voiced her concerns. "I'm just wondering why you want to drop the age limit to 55?" she asked.
Bill Reeder replied that this makes it easier to market the units. In addition he said, "It would be very nice if we could get some younger bodies to take over some of the administration" of the complex.
Webster continued, "I'm concerned about dropping the age limit. To me, someone 55 years old is not a senior citizen. My concern is traffic. We live right across the street from the driveway. There could be a younger spouse and older children living in the unit, and therefore more traffic."
The Planning Board voted unanimously to adopt the Special Permit changes as requested by Malcolm Meadows.
Church plans reviewed
The site plan for the Congregational Church was presented by Joe March of Stamski & McNary, the engineering firm which produced the plan on behalf of the church. March detailed several small changes made to the plan since it was reviewed by the Planning Board at its last meeting, including concerns about access of firefighting equipment at the new church building. Although Fire Chief Koning was not present at the November 13 meeting, he advised the board in writing that the site plan now met his fire safety concerns.
Engineer Sandy Brock of Judith Nitsch Engineering, the firm retained by the Planning Board to evaluate the church site plan, reviewed proposed changes to the site plan providing for an emergency spillway that can accommodate rainwater run-off for a 100-year storm. While Stamski and McNary did not believe that they were required to accommodate a storm of this magnitude, they did alter their design to do so.
The Planning Board then took comments from the public. Carol Sullivan, an abutter of the Church property, expressed her concern about the impact of the new church building on the neighborhood. "For me, the impact is dramatic for the neighborhood," she said. "We are concerned with the landscaping and the buffering of the impact. We know that the Church will be a lovely building, but when those trees come down, the whole topography will completely change. I pray that the Church will plant some trees to lessen the impact of this huge building. As long as they have their place to worship and their parking, I would hope they would want to provide a buffer."
Representing the Church's building committee, Kirk Ware spoke up. "We did make a commitment that we would re-look at the landscaping," he said. "Clearly we don't want people to drive by and not know that there is a Church there. But we would be more than willing to plant something [as a buffer]."
Planning Board chair Michael Epstein pointed out that in this instance, the Planning Board is only reviewing the site plan and providing a recommendation to the Selectmen, not making final approval. "Our role here is to provide a recommendation to the Selectmen, providing as much guidance as possible to the Selectmen and to the applicants." He advised Ms. Sullivan and any other concerned neighbors to work with the Church to put any commitments as to landscaping in writing, and to be prepared to present their concerns to the Board of Selectmen, who will be the permitting authority in this matter. The planning board voted to recommend the site plan to the Board of Selectmen.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito