The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 3, 2003


BOA focuses on conditions for approval of 40B development

At its meeting on September 23, the Carlisle Board of Appeals (BOA) continued to move toward the approval of Carlisle's first affordable housing development. Only two units in the eight-unit development on a four-acre parcel at 302 Lowell Road, known as Laurel Hollow, will be priced below the market. The other units, all two-bedrooms, will be at market price. However, as BOA member Cindy Nock remarked, "Those other (market price) units are affordable for Carlisle residents who are interested in downsizingand will enable some people to stay in Carlisle."

In a town like Carlisle, which does not have the mandated 10% of housing affordable under a state formula, the comprehensive permit law, known as Chapter 40B, allows developers to build higher density housing than permitted under local bylaws.

BOA member Shann Kerner said, "It is disappointing that only two units are affordableIt would be nice to get more out of it." Acting Chair Hal Sauer reminded the group, "The builder came with a much bigger development, which the state approved I would hate to see more than four units (two condos per unit) on this site." Sauer reminded the board that twenty years ago the state threatened to withhold money from the town because of a lack of affordable housing. Now, twenty years later, "[We need] some moderate-income housing to hold off the state wolves," he warned.

BOA member Scott Batchelder asked Town Counsel Richard Hucksam under what circumstances do projects such as this one get rejected? Hucksam said local boards can deny a comprehensive permit if there are local concerns for public health, safety, environment or principles of planning. However, said Hucksam, the developer can appeal the decision to the state, and the state Housing Appeals Board overwhelmingly sides with the developer.

Concerns, conditions

Sauer directed the discussion to some of the major concerns regarding the development and the conditions which the board may attach to this permit.

Traffic sight lines: Although there was concern from the abutters regarding the entrance to the driveway on Lowell Road from the south side, especially if cars were speeding, Sauer cited a report from the Police Chief which said that the sight lines were adequate.

Landscaping: There has been much concern about the adequacy of the landscape plan for this development, as only a "sketchy" one was provided late in the process. Abutters and other town boards asked that a plan be prepared by a registered landscape architect and include their input. Sauer reported that developer Mike Kenney has agreed that a professional landscape architect will draft a plan which includes input and concerns from the interested parties. Also, this plan would be part of the comprehensive permit, and if not followed, no occupancy permit would be issued. Building Inspector Bob Koning has agreed to this unusual procedure.

Erosion: Sauer was concerned that during construction erosion of this hilly site could result in run-off and mud flow onto Lowell Road. To address this and other building concerns, Sauer proposed that a field engineer be hired at the developer's cost to supervise all states of construction and to prepare field reports for the building inspector.

Name confusion: Fire Chief David Flannery expressed concern that the name Laurel Hollow is too similar to Laurelwood, which might cause confusion and delay during an emergency. The board thought that one of the conditions might be that the Fire Chief must approve the name of the development.

Parking: Overflow parking on Lowell Road is a concern of the board. A deed restriction that specifically prevents this might be a condition.

Size of units: There was discussion that the two-bedroom units remain limited to two bedrooms. The board wants to ensure that these units can not be enlarged in any way. This limitation would limit water consumption.

Affordability in perpetuity: A discussion ensued about how to ensure that the two affordable units remain affordable. Town Counsel Hucksam told the board that as long as the development doesn't comply with local zoning bylaws · for example, two-acre minimum per unit · the affordability must be maintained.

Wells: Since the beginning of these hearings last December, water quality and quantity have been major concerns. Some have suggested that an in-ground irrigation system be prohibited. The builder agreed to an elaborate drilling plan which would ensure that the new wells do not affect the flow of water to abutters' wells. The board will ask for a water management plan, approved by a professional engineer, not a well-digger.

The board also discussed the need to grant a waiver as the development does not have the required 40-foot setback to its abutters. One of the units is only 25 feet from the nearest lot line, so a 15-foot waiver is needed.

Next steps

The board is planning to file its written decision with the Town Clerk by October 21, which is within the forty-day limit from closing of the public hearing. At the next meeting, the board will review a draft document, written by Town Counsel, including the conditions for approval. They will then allow other town boards to comment on the draft before the final document is written.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito