The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 25, 2003


Board of Appeals hears Laurel Hollow 40B application

It's all about water · clean water, gray water, running water, wells, and septic systems. Water concerns lay at the heart of the discussion at the continued hearing on an application for a comprehensive permit at the Board of Appeals meeting last Thursday, April 17.

This application, submitted by builder Michael Kenney, calls for the construction of an eight-unit con-dominium development, named Laurel Hollow, on a four-acre parcel at 302 Lowell Street. Under a state law known as Chapter 40B developers can build more units than local zoning bylaws normally permit, as long as at least 25% of the new housing qualifies as affordable.

Developer Kenney must deal with the Board of Health and comply with state Title 5 regulations for wells and septic systems. He must also come before the Conservation Commission to demonstrate compliance with state and federal wetland restrictions. However, only the Board of Appeals can approve a comprehensive permit. If denied, the developer may appeal the BOA decision to the state.

Board misses deadline

The hearing almost did not happen. "I have a perfect opportunity not to be here tonightbased on a technicality," he said. The BOA has only thirty days to open a public hearing once an application for a comprehensive permit is submitted. The board did not meet this deadline, thereby giving the applicant a "constructive approval" by default. However, at the last board meeting on April 3 Kenney waived his right to the automatic approval, saying that he "owes the town a full, complete and fair review." He is proceeding with the application before the Board of Appeals. As part of the process, Kenney has agreed to a peer review of all plans by consulting engineering firms selected by the board.

There was not a negative word spoken about the need for affordable housing. In addition, the good intentions and excellent reputation of Kenney was reiterated by representatives of most of the town boards present at the meeting: Vivian Chaput, of the Board of Selectman; Kate Reid of the Planning Board; Sylvia Willard, Conservation Commission; Linda Fantasia, Board of Health, and Bob Koning, Building Inspector.

Early informal reviews

Earlier, on an informal basis, Kenney went before the selectmen and other boards to describe a much larger development. The original plan was for eight buildings with two three-bedroom units in each. With that size development, a waste water treatment plan would have been necessary. After receiving input from the various boards, Kenney decided to downsize his design to four buildings, with eight units, two of which would be designated affordable housing. All units would have two bedrooms.

Michael McCarron, Kenney's lawyer, reminded the board at the first hearing on April 3 that each town is required to have 10% of its housing stock affordable. Carlisle, currently with only 18 units, or 1.08%, is far from compliance. To qualify for an affordable housing unit, a family must have an annual income no higher than 80% of median income in the region. The anticipated purchase price of the affordable units in Laurel Hollow will be $170,000- $175,000 dollars.

Water, Water, Water

Kenney spoke briefly about the concerns that abutters and town officials have expressed regarding preserving quality and quantity of water. Since there are no public water supplies, and everyone is dependent on their own well for water in this town, the concerns are obvious. Mr. Kenney assured the town that he could dig the wells in such as way to insure the integrity of the abutters' wells. As he is building units with only two bedrooms, he anticipates less water will be used than in homes of much greater size built in town.

Abutters file appeal

John Brewer of 280 Lowell Street told the board that the two other abutters have already filed an appeal, to preserve their rights. He was concerned about the project potentially damaging the water supply, and other safety, health and environmental issues.

Maintaining the purity and quantity of individual wells seemed to be the overriding concern of other abutters and others who attended the meeting. Abutter Sean Flynn of Woodbine Road was concerned about the septic system in the proposed development. With condominiums so large, greater than 2,800 square feet, and limited to two bedrooms, wouldn't the owners be tempted to turn some of the living space into additional bedrooms, he queried the board. Richard Kane of 390 Lowell Street expressed water and septic concerns about the proposed complex.

Effect of Malcolm Meadows

Debbie Webster of Stern Street made a strong case to the board concerning the impact of larger developments on our wells. The Websters live across the street from Malcolm Meadows (MM), the age-restricted cluster development on Stearns Street. She said that MM "had the blessings of all town boards, much like this one seems to have."

Webster said that their own well is 360 feet deep, and when MM was built, they were immediately unable to use their sprinkler. Then when MM put in an in-ground sprinkler system, and "choose to run it during the sunniest part of the day," they lost their water, not once, but five times, with a recovery period as long as four hours. According to Webster, the response from MM was not to turn off their sprinkler during the hottest past of the day, but to reduce it by 20%, which gave the Websters no relief. After her appeals, Webster reported that the Board of Health did not send a letter requesting the sprinklers be turned off until October.

Hearing Continued

The hearing was continued to May 1. Seeking peer review by consulting engineering firms will be the next step.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito