Friday, August 17, 2001
Planning Board still has no resolution of Berry Corner Lane litigation
It appeared that the planning board was closing in on a settlement of the Valhuis/Berry Corner Lane litigation but was thwarted by the absence of one member at its June 25 meeting. Upon coming out of a forty minute executive session, chairman Michael Abend informed Howard Speicher, attorney representing Valchuis, that the board would not act in the absence of member Michael Epstein "whose opinion may sway someone else's in this matter."
Speicher spoke briefly to the planning board about the status of the litigation and approvals. The application that was denied by the board was a one lot "Approval Not Required" parcel on thirteen acres. (An ANR is simply the endorsement by the planning board that subdivision control does not apply and that the lot in question has legal frontage on a way. It does not define the lot as being buildable under zoning requirements.)
Speicher gave the board "a sense of history" of the saga. The roadway to which this lot has frontage was approved in 1978 under a nowdefunct bylaw for small subdivision roads. "This was a hybrid bylaw between the current common driveway and full subdivision standards." The town plows the roadway.
The planning board denied the ANR and, in subsequent settlement talks in 1999, requested the roadway be improved to provide better access. The board sought improvements to this gravel road such as installation of an under drain and an emergency turnaround. The board, through settlement discussions, indicated that they would sign the ANR only after the work had been done. This required the applicant to file with the conservation commission. The conservation commission denied the request and, as reported earlier in the Mosquito, the denial was overturned by the state. Altogether, this caused a delay of over two years.
The planning board has set out a new condition requiring a maintenance agreement. A maintenance agreement would require the signature of the other residents on the roadway. This issue was addressed again at another hearing on July 30, again without final resolution.
Shohet Common Driveway
Prior to its hearing on June 25, the planning board held discussions with the fire chief regarding the Shohet Common Drive Application. Fire chief Robert Koning reiterated that "there is no water source for the five lots and the driveway is in disrepair and that driveway is a safety problem." The driveway is proposed to extend an existing common driveway that currently serves three houses to four and possibly five lots for a total length of 1,775 feet.
Koning had requested that the board require a cistern to provide adequate fire safety and that the current driveway be named and renumbered in order to be able to locate the houses in an emergency.
Michael Epstein summarized the history by stating that the record clearly indicates that when the common driveway was approved these lots were contemplated." Robert Santomenna, attorney for the applicant, stated that the cost to put in a fire pond would be more than putting in a cistern. The cost of a cistern is between $50,000 to $60,000.
Chair Michael Abend polled the members present; there was not strong support for a cistern. Planning board member Dan Holzman agreed that there is a need for a cistern but "that doesn't mean that this board will require it."
At a subsequent hearing on July 30, the board was assured that the fire chief's concerns have been addressed by including four posts with reflectors at each of the two wetland crossings. When asked about the naming of the common driveway, West requested a waiver, noting that the granite post with house numbers on Bedford Road clearly indicates the addresses served by the driveway.
The board approved the amendment to the plan, conditioned on the new house being constructed with an automatic sprinkler system, brush on Bedford Road being cut back, and granite markers being maintained as approved by the fire chief.
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