The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 12, 2003


ConsCom asks to see plans for entire new Cross St. development

An item that appeared on the Conservation Commission's December 4 agenda as a routine Notice of Intent to install a septic system in an undeveloped lot, ended up sparking a broader discussion of Carlisle's regulatory structure. An application submitted by developer William Costello and presented by Stamski and McNary engineer George Dimakarakos attracted not only a handful of abutters, but also Planning Board member Dan Holzman.

Subdivision not yet approved by Planning Board

The site involved was referred to in the engineer's documentation as "Lot 1" of a 27-acre parcel on Cross Street recently purchased by Costello along with two other large parcels. The catch was that the land in question had not yet been reviewed by the Planning Board. Thus Lot 1 has not yet been created.

ConsCom chair Tricia Smith led off with the observation that since the plan didn't show the whole parcel there was no way of telling with certainty where that particular "chunk" was located. Commissioner Roy Watson concurred adding that there was also no way of knowing what Dimakarakos's client was planning to do with the parcel as a whole. The engineer replied that he was "unaware" of the client's rationale for making his request at this time. However, he felt that "from a regulatory point of view" the plan contained all the information the commission needed to make a decision.

"..Prove that you have really done good site planning.."

Since the wetland boundaries had already been accepted the board agreed to look at the plans to get a feel for what might be involved. The specifications indicated that the septic system itself was outside the 100-foot buffer zone but that the required grading would bring operations to within 66 feet of the wetland. However, it was the lack of grading specifications that was unacceptable to Smith, who said it was "insufficient" to show only those aspects required for Board of Health approval. "It behooves you to give enough information to prove that you have really done good site planning overall," she insisted. Thus, in her view, for the commission to feel comfortable, they needed documentation showing "Lot 1" in reference to the parcel as a whole.

Piecemeal problems

Supporting Smith, Commissioner John Lee indicated that piecemeal development has often caused problems in the long run, for example where lot by lot Application Not Required (ANR) filings had ended up producing a landlocked lot with no legal access. Result: the board was later faced with a "hardship" appeal that called for waiving of standard environmental requirements. Smith then stated that she felt any commission action should be postponed until more information was provided. When it became obvious that her colleagues were of a like mind, Dimakarakos agreed to a continuance to December 18.

Town has no grading specs

As the engineer departed, Holzman told the board he had dropped in while waiting for another meeting to get underway and was particularly interested in Smith's comments about problems caused by lack of oversight of grading operations on ANR lots as distinguished from most subdivision projects. Not only is there no requirement for grading specifications, but even the state's Storm Water Management standards do not apply to such lots. In the Cross Street case, he confirmed that no paperwork had yet been filed with the Planning Board. Hence no one yet knew what the developer does or doesn't have in mind.

Holzman further noted that very few towns have adopted grading specification requirements for ANR lots, in part because of difficulty in monitoring them. Lee provided a "horror story" to demonstrate what can happen in their absence. He told of a lot abutting Anandale Farm, of which he is the manager, that was sold to an individual who wished to level out his entire lot and brought in truckload after truckload of fill to accomplish it. As a result Lee is now faced with an abrupt, six-foot wall of uncontrolled material immediately adjacent to the Boston farm.

According to Holzman many towns do have regulations specifying the amount of upland terrain required for lot development or the maximum slope acceptable within a lot. Commissioners indicated that, given Carlisle's topography, a minimum upland requirement for a buildable lot, has been seriously considered as a possible solution to some of the escalating problems. All agreed that, with the continuing build-out of Carlisle properties, fringe lots and drainage problems are multiplying. Holzman mentioned one unanticipated concern that has arisen from the siting of very large houses on relatively small lots. In some cases, standard drainage arrangements have trouble handling the onslaught of water from the roof, particularly if there is also a large amount of impervious driveway and parking area.

Just as the discussion was becoming more and more interesting, time ran out. Holzman had to depart for his scheduled meeting, but perhaps not before having stirred up enough grist to suggest a future inter-board meeting.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito