The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 27, 2004


Parcel A abutters express concerns

A group of abutters addressed the crowded Selectmen's meeting last Tuesday, listing their concerns over the town's proposed purchase and development of Parcel A of the Benfield property on South Street.

Ray Kubacki of South Street addressed the meeting saying that he represents concerned Carlisle citizens and taxpayers who want to urge the Selectmen not to recommend the purchase of the Benfield parcel from the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), and instead, to place the original "ANR plan" (Approval Not Required by the Planning Board) as developed by the Benfield family before the town as an alternative.

The CCF plan, he said, is economically and environmentally unfavorable. Economically, it commits the town to spending $2 million for the land, another $50,000 for planning, and "unknown but very significant costs" for development. These include modifying both ends of South Street to accomodate new traffic, as well as building, managing and maintaining affordable rental units. "The purchase is a disaster from an environmental point of view," he asserted. "The Spencer Brook watershed is on this property and the land has long been identified as the most desireable conservation property in town."

By contrast, Kubacki continued, the ANR plan would cost the town nothing and the housing lots "are very small and very restricted."

Peterson responds

"I'm glad you like the ANR plan," responded CCF Director Greg Peterson from the audience, "It took us only two and a half years to negotiate that with the Benfield family." He went on to dispute the claim of "very small and very restricted." The ANR plan, he clarified, divided the 45-acre Parcel A into five lots, ranging in size from 4.74 to 7.06 acres, plus 14 acres of unbuildable wetlands. Although each lot was drawn with a "housing envelope" of approximately one acre where a "CEO house" can be built, large portions of each lot can be developed with swimming pools, tennis courts, lighted ballfields and long paved driveways.

Eugenia Harris of South Street asked why the Selectmen are only speaking with the CCF and why there is no input from the Benfields. Peterson responded, "The Benfields are out of the picture." The CCF has signed a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Benfield family for Parcel A, and the Benfields have the remaining parcels (B-E) under contract with a developer.

Should the town decline to purchase the land, is there anything in the P&S agreement that would prevent the CCF from selling deed-restricted lots, asked Heald Road resident Paula Trebino? Peterson said that the only restrictions placed on Parcel A by the Benfields are:

• no buildings visible from South Street

• the inner field must remain open space

• the planning process must involve the neighborhood

• No CPA uses can be foreclosed.

Ballfield is biggest problem

Trebino pointed out that the biggest concern for the abutters is the ballfield on South Street. Residents are concerned that they will be looking at a chain-link fence, traffic and parked cars, and night lighting. Recreation Commission Director Maureen Tarca responded from the audience that a chain-link fence may be needed, but that, with a careful planning process "there are a lot of creative things you can do to lessen the visibility."

Environmental comparisons

The discussion of environmental impact lasted almost one hour. Alan Carpenito of South Street asked for a clarification of what is permitted on "open space." After looking at each other, the Selectmen admitted that they did not have a clear definition at hand, but thought that underground septic structures are permissible.

Tarik Samman of Fifty Acre Way observed that it is "common sense" that 25 units versus 5 houses, regardless of size, would have greater impact on ground water. Planning Board member Dan Holzman, speaking for himself, said that the ANR plan is not necessarily better or worse for the environment. "It is perfectly possibleto design small clusters of 24 units of affordable housing that are environmentally better than five uncontrolled mansions and driveways."

List of concerns

Last Saturday, February 21, about 30 area residents had met to discuss their questions and concerns, and at their request, Selectmen John Ballantine and Doug Stevenson attended the two-and-a-half-hour meeting. According to Jeff Kiel of Davis Road, the group presented a written list of concerns, including:

• There is near universal opposition to any use of this property for active recreation of any kind.

•There is considerable uncertainty and disagreement as to the number of affordable housing units that might be considered acceptable to the neighborhood, due to the limited information available on the scope and impact of this proposed possible use, and the rushed timeframe.

•There is grave concern about the unknown future tax impact of this purchase.

•There is a general consensus that alternatives to the CPA Parcel A plan should be explored.

© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito