Friday, December 3, 2004
Planning Board looks at new subdivisions
Thanksgiving week should have provided a good excuse to slack off a bit and wrap up your Monday night meeting in time to watch the Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Not so for the Planning Board, whose November 22 meeting labored on until midnight and then went into executive session for more business.
Cross Street development
One good reason for the long evening was the appearance of developer Bill Costello and his engineer George Dimakarakos from Stamsky and McNary who were there to present their informal conceptual plan for the Cross Street development. Costello owns approximately 50 acres of land including and adjacent to 216 Cross Street, with additional frontage on Bingham Road. Neighbors have been anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop — and Monday it dropped.
"We are here this evening to present three alternatives for your consideration," began Dimakarakos. "We're not asking for a vote, just your help and consideration." Costello has held several meetings with all the neighbors and abutters to describe his plans, and the meetings were apparently so effective that no one from Cross Street attended the Planning Board discussion. Costello was content to sit quietly in the audience and let Dimakarakos do all the talking.
"We have three alternatives," explained Dimakarakos as he hauled three large color-enhanced maps to the front of the room. "Two are what is allowed by zoning and the third requires a special permit." The first alternative presented by Dimakarakos was a straight subdivision of 19 lots. A subdivision road will begin on Cross Street and proceed deep into the property and then angle over and eventually exit onto Bingham Road. Five of the lots would be accessed from Cross Street and the rest would front on the 20-foot wide subdivision road. This alternative produces the largest number of houses, but requires two wetland crossings and the egress onto Bingham Road, which is troubling because of the road's notoriety as being steep and winding with dangerous blind turns.
The second alternative was a straight Approval Not Required (ANR) plan with no subdivision road and with the frontage of all 14 lots on Cross Street. This is the easiest to implement because no Planning Board approval is required and no special permit is needed. However, it produces a myriad of porkchop lots with driveways scattered all along Cross Street, and no one on the Planning Board seemed impressed.
The third alternative featured a conservation cluster of 15 lots accessed by three common driveways on Cross Street and no access to Bingham Road. One common drive would support four lots, the second would access five lots and the third would handle six lots. The driveways would feature a turnaround at the end with a 25-foot inside radius to accommodate fire apparatus. Dimakarakos pointed out several green areas on the map that reserved over 30% of the property as open space and the entire property is ringed by a conservation buffer so that the cluster can never be expanded. Less than half of the open space is wetland and the common drives will be 18 feet wide with two-foot shoulders. Dimakarakos expects that the driveway grade will not exceed 10% at its steepest part.
This was all music to the ears of the Planning Board members and it was obvious that they preferred this alternative, even though no vote was taken. There are questions to be answered, such as chair Louise Hara's query as to the number and location of fire cisterns and the ability of the fire trucks to maneuver the common driveways, but for the most part Dimakarakos appeared to have satisfied the board with his presentation. He and Costello thanked the board for their suggestions and time and all systems appear to be "go" for this major project.
Benfield parcels B and C
The public hearing continued for the requests for two common driveway special permits at 967 West Street "Apple Grove Lane" and 894 West Street "Hobblebush Lane." These properties are more widely known as Parcels B and C of the Benfield land. Parcel A was purchased by the town at the 2004 Spring Town Meeting and is not related to this public hearing. Frank Stewart, president of Northland Residential Corporation, and Rob Gemma, Northland's engineer, have been inching their way through the Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Board of Health approval process since last September, and the two common driveway special permits were finally approved by the Planning Board at this meeting.
Parcel B and Parcel C contain a total of 104 acres and Northland plans to limit the development to only eight home sites. Each parcel will have one common driveway and each driveway will support four home sites. The buildings would be set back from West and South Streets by at least 300 feet in keeping with their designations as scenic roads. The names of Apple Grove Lane and Hobblebush Lane have been approved by the Carlisle Police Chief Dave Galvin.
Under the terms of an agreement between the Carlisle Conservation Foundation and the Benfields, the parcels cannot be further subdivided. Parcel D containing 16 acres and E containing 12.5 acres will remain open space and an additional 46 acres are deemed unbuildable. None of the abutters attended the meeting.
Stewart has been frustrated with delays in the approval process regarding such driveway issues as cul-de-sac versus Y-type turnaround and driveway widths, but all were finally resolved to the satisfaction of the Planning Board. They voted 6-0 to approve each of the two common driveway special permits. The Board then voted 6-0 to close the public hearing. "It's been a long process," concluded Stewart.
Maple Street, "Carlisle Woods"
The Carlisle Board of Appeals has asked the Planning Board to review the comprehensive permit application by the Massapoag Real Estate Development Corporation for Carlisle Woods, adjacent to 926 Maple Street on the Billerica town line. This is a complicated situation that involves a landlocked 4.37 acres of land located in Carlisle with access available only through Billerica by a paper road.
Carlisle Fire Chief David Flannery has already stated that the name Carlisle Woods is not acceptable because of similar names in Carlisle, which could be confusing in an emergency situation. He wants a 30,000 gallon cistern within 100 feet of the Maple Street entrance but Billerica says that they have a fire hydrant on nearby Estee Road that could serve the same purpose. This sounds good, but Carlisle trucks are not equipped to deal with hydrants because we have none, and Billerica trucks may not be equipped to deal with cisterns.
The Planning Board spent over an hour discussing these problems, but came up with few suggestions. Abutter Ed Rolfe of 916 Maple Street assisted the board with stories of poor drainage and flooding on the site, and board members offered ideas relating to sight lines, school bus safety and snowplowing. Chair Louise Hara concluded that the predominant problems associated with the project, from a Planning Board point of view, are safety and drainage issues, and that the Board will send a note to the Board of Appeals with more specific comments later.
Odds and ends
The Planning Board approved a special permit for 70 Orchard Acres Drive, Mark Lemos applicant. Abutters agreed that the subdivided lot was best accessed by an existing driveway and none wanted to require that a new driveway be constructed though a scenic apple orchard. Board members reviewed the two lots, 70A and the new 70B, and decided to approve the special permit by a vote of 5-0.
An ANR plan submitted by James Byrne for parcels 22, 23, 31 and 32 on Tophet Road, Carleton Road and East Riding Drive was approved by unanimous vote and signed by the Planning Board.
© 2004 The