Friday, January 28, 2005
Drainage, access still unresolved as 40B deadline approaches
Not one but two 40B developments were on the agenda for the Board of Appeals (BOA) on the bitterly cold night of January 20.
"Carlisle Woods" outstanding issues
The decision on the 40B development still referred to as Carlisle Woods is fast approaching, as the deadline for this application is January 31. The board is leaving the hearing open for yet another week, so that all information regarding this project can continue to be put in the record.
The board received revised plans, including landscape designs from developer's lawyer, Harrington and Son. He said that, "These revised plans answer the major area of concerns and meet the requirements of 40B."
Jesse Johnson, representing David Ross and Associates, the firm which is reviewing the project for the town, commented that there were some significant issues not addressed, most importantly the drainage and storm water management. He went on to say, "It is not a deal-breaker — he hasn't shown it, but there is room for it." However, Johnson said, "I would not accept a plan without it."
Also, outstanding issues regarding the road as it comes into Maple Street are awaiting Billerica's determination, as its entrance is entirely in Billerica. Johnson suggested that Carlisle send to Billerica its concerns regarding the road entrance, the grade, and concern about water flowing onto Maple Street.
Johnson also suggested that the board require draw-down tests on neighboring wells to determine if the new wells would impact the water levels of existing wells.
Fire Chief Flannery's updated suggestions were also put into the record. He said that the development would require a turning circle at the end of the 1,500-foot common driveway so that emergency fire vehicles can access the property. A crash gate on Estey Road in Billerica as proposed by the developer would not be acceptable. He was still concerned that the development not be called Carlisle Woods because of other similar names in town, but wondered if that was still possible to do.
How much profit?
An initial examination of the pro forma, the financial basis for the development, was reported on by consultant Kim Vermeer. She told the board that, "The soft costs (engineering, marketing, etc.) of this project are outside the usual costs, in that they are higher than expected, and out of line." Examining the basic financials, the developer claims that each unit would cost $415,000 to build."This cost would exceed what would be expected."
Also at issue for determining costs is the cost of the property. Currently the property is taxed at $20,000 by the town, because it has been determined for years that it was not buildable. However, the developer has claimed that the cost of the land is much more than that. Assistant town counsel Rich Hucksam has told the board that based on law, you cannot include the value of a permit in the cost of the land. The lawyers for the developer claim that the land is buildable without the comprehensive permit, thus allowing them to include the higher land cost.
Huxkam explained the importance of this disagreement. The town cannot condition this project to make it uneconomic for the developer. "If the board approved the application with conditions, and we negotiate whether or not this project is uneconomic, then the land value would be very important."
The Harrington lawyers told the board, "We're not going to swindle anyone down the road." He said the developer expects to make a profit of 9.7%, or $321,000. However, if the project exceeds 20%, the amount above the higher figure is returned to the town to be used for affordable housing. Harrington reiterated that they did not believe it was up to the local board to examine the pro forma. "We're trying to avoid opening up in front of the local board, when it will be looked into at a later time."
Abutters' concerns were heard. Ed Rolfe, of 916 Maple Street, asked the board if they realized the cistern placed in the county right of way on Maple Street would be in his wife's flower garden, and would necessitate the removal of his stone wall. Yan Cheng of 926 Maple Street told the board again of her concerns of access to her driveway during construction, water supply, and run-off and drainage issues. Ginny Geneczko of 898 Maple Street told the board that according to records the purchase and sale agreement which the developer had for the property had expired.
Laurel Hollow setback change
The Laurel Hollow 40B development off Lowell Street, approved by the board last year, was back on the BOA agenda. Builder Michael Kenney requested that the size of the third building (of four) be reduced, thus increasing the setback from abutter's property to 50 feet, instead of the earlier 30 feet which the board had approved. This unit was one of the market-rate units, and concerns of storm water run-off were at issue.
The board felt that this was a positive change, and instead of holding another hearing on this issue, the board voted to accept the changes. They decided that the change was not substantial because it was a general improvement of the conditions by increasing the setback.
© 2005 The