Friday, September 13, 2002
Acton rejects alternative plan
The Acton Conservation Commission has acknowledged receipt of a letter from their Carlisle counterparts urging modification of plans for the 90-house Robbins Mill Estates that will border Carlisle on the west side of town. The proposal as drawn up by former Carlisle commissioner Ken Harte called for a modest reorientation of the subdivision to permit preservation of a 150-foot-wide buffer roughly following the town line. The forested border area would serve as a wildlife corridor and permit trail linkage between existing conservation tracts in both towns
To the disappointment of the half dozen Carlisle residents who attended the September 3 session, the Acton commissioners said they did not consider the plan feasible. As reported to the Mosquito by West Street resident Ed Sonn, the Carlisle contingent pointed out that an alternate plan for removal of just a small number of houses would also permit the corridor to be included, while giving prospective residents lot sizes somewhat larger than the currently specified 30,000 square feet. They also questioned the developer's estimate that the average occupancy rate for the five-bedroom homes would be three persons, thus keeping the nitrate load to an acceptable level. However, since the wetland flagging as done by Stamski and McNary suggested no problems, and there was no need for wetland fill, Sonn said the commission seemed poised for eventual approval. Their office says only that consideration of the first of two eventual filings has been continued to allow for a site visit.
Apparently stymied on the Acton front, Sonn reported that residents from Acton and West Streets plus Log Hill and Woodland Roads would address the September 10 meeting of the Carlisle Board of Selectmen, asking them to appeal the Acton Planning Board's acceptance of the existing plan. They will base the request primarily on the unfortunate effects of increased traffic loads in Carlisle when east-bound vehicles, from up to 90 residences, seek to avoid Routes 27, 2A and the prison rotary by spilling out onto Carlisle Road (Acton Street here).
Another West Street resident, Jill Reichenbach, later pointed out to the Mosquito that the approved subdivision plan requires "emergency access along a logging road" that runs from the proposed development to Log Hill Road in Carlisle. Sonn says he tried to hike the "road" that is now barely a trail and proceeded to get lost. He also contends that Robbins Mill subdivision applicant Charles Dexter signed a "covenant" in Carlisle in 1961 as a condition for approval to build the homes on Woodland Road. This document prohibits connection from his then-Carlisle lot to his lands in Acton.
Finally Sonn told the Mosquito that, "should the selectmen vote not to act during the 20-day legal timeframe for appeal, some of the westside residents are contemplating a citizen appeal based on issues ranging from traffic, to water quality, to diminution of property values." Though not anticipating being able to kill the whole project, they hope to reduce the number of housing units from 90 to 60 or less.
At the September 10 board of selectmen's meeting, Ed Sonn met with mild encouragement. His presentation occured after FinCom members described budget constraints, and the selectmen were reluctant to initiate a possibly expensive legal action over Acton's subdivision.
Selectman Vivian Chaput urged the concerned abutters to take their own court action. Chaput also offered to contact MAGIC, the regional planning authority, to check whether the subdivision might be classified as a development of regional impact. If this were the case, then MAGIC would have jurisdiction to review the development plan, in order to lessen the traffic impacts.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito