Friday, May 2, 2003
Planning Board clarifies advisory role on Laurel Hollow 40B development
There was an undertone of discontent as members of the Planning Board gathered for their meeting on April 28 in the Town Hall. At their previous meeting on April 14, they had listened to a presentation by Michael Kenney concerning his proposed eight-unit comprehensive permit project, known as Laurel Hollow, at 302 Lowell Street. Last fall, Kenney had appeared before the Planning Board for an informal, conceptual discussion of an earlier version of this project. Then, as now, the board recognized that such a project could provide a few much-needed units of affordable housing and they supported that goal.
Why, then, the discontent? "The Mosquito headline that the Planning Board supports Laurel Hollow was misleading," explained member David Freedman. "We did not recommend that the Zoning Board of Appeals (BOA) support the project. No vote was taken!" Other members affirmed that the board had been asked by the BOA only to review the project with the objectives of ensuring safety and minimizing environmental impacts on abutting properties and public ways. With those objectives in mind, the board advised the BOA to seek certain technical reviews of their plans and their supporting documentation and request several amendments to those plans before granting approval of the comprehensive permit. "We support the overall goal of affordable housing," reiterated Freedman. "But our authorization was and is to advise the BOA, not to recommend."
Having thus cleared the air, the board members settled down to hear a request for some more advice on Laurel Hollow by BOA member Hal Sauer. Sauer, who has the unenviable task of filling in for recused chairman Terry Herndon on the Chapter 40B application, was there to discuss the choice of a peer review consultant. Laurel Hollow developer Michael Kenney has proposed the firms of David Ross in Ayer, Judith Nitsche in Cambridge, and Landtech in Westford, all supposedly qualified to do drainage and septic reviews. Kenney also recommends the firm of Skillings, which has done well digging in town, for well consultation. "We ask the Planning Board to help us out with any ideas relative to an engineering firm," requested Sauer.
After some discussion, chair Kate Reid summarized the Planning Board's collective judgment. "We've been happy with Judith Nitsche. Ross is OK, but we're used to Nitsche." Sauer thanked the group for their help and admitted the BOA normally only has to cope with the addition of another bathroom or bedroom. "So we need all the help we can get [on a 40B application]," he wistfully concluded.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito