Friday, February 4, 2005
Think town, not just neighborhood
"New 40B proposed for Concord Street" read the headline on the front page of the January 14 issue of the Carlisle Mosquito. Reading further, one learned that developers were proposing a 66-unit 40B development, 25% "affordable," on a 23-acre site off Concord Street between Spencer Brook Lane and Palmer Way. In the next issue of the newspaper, we learn that plans for the Concord Street development would include a condo complex of 17 buildings on the 23-acre site. It would be age-restrictive, with at least one member of each unit 55 years of age or older. There would be a common water supply from several wells, and shared septic systems.
It is only natural that abutters react and speak out about what may be happening to their neighborhood. But now the entire Carlisle community needs to pay attention to what is happening in our town. The 40B affordable housing law is not going away, and its consequences must be faced. What kind of housing do we want? Where should it go? And most importantly, how do the citizens of Carlisle, rather than developers, control the outcome? (See article on page 5.)
What we need now is pro-active planning for the town. An Affordable Housing Plan Task Force has been established, made up of at least one member each from the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, and the Housing Authority, and directed by the Planning Board. They will immediately hire a planning consultant and move quickly to write a state-approvable Affordable Housing Plan, the first necessary step for the town to take control of the forces that are threatening to change the character of Carlisle.
It is also imperative that our town boards work together to find solutions to the 40B dilemma. The five-member Board of Selectmen needs to find a way to come together without the deep divisions that characterized the Benfield parcel acquisition on South Street last year. Townspeople who have the skills and expertise should step forward to offer assistance to our volunteer town government. The Housing Authority, which should have five members, is down two members at this time.
The plan being developed for the Benfield property should be approved and a permit issued for 12 to 14 units, in accordance with the Affordable Housing Plan. Then and only then will the Board of Appeals be able to deny permits for one year for inappropriate proposals such as the Concord Street project.
Don't wait for a 40B application in your neighborhood, but work with and support town boards to put the tools in place to control the process. The time to act is now, before the developers take over.
One good turn
The latest rash of winter storms has brought out the best in people. Last week, I was driving in our Jeep — a car that I don't drive often. Apparently, it needs extra time to warm up in cold weather or it will inevitably stall. So on a particularly cold night, on one of my many treks to the high school, I apparently did not allow enough "warm up" time, and stalled at the end of Brook Street. I tried to start the car up again to no avail. Instead of getting angry, particularly since I was with my teenage daughter, I calmly waited a minute or so before I tried turning over the engine again. As I was sitting there with my hazard lights flashing, a car turned onto the road and a man rolled down his window to ask if I needed any help. I said thanks anyway, and explained I was just waiting for my car to start which I was sure would happen momentarily. He waved and drove off. A couple of minutes later, I started the car and nursed it back home to exchange it for my husband's. In about five minutes I was once again at the end of Brook Street, and I saw a Carlisle Police cruiser making the turn toward me. Now, this could have been a routine patrol, or perhaps, the man who asked if I needed help, or some other passer-by, called the police. Either way, it's comforting to see people looking out for each other.
The next night, we passed a car off the road in a snow bank right near our house. My husband got out and asked the young girl if she was all right, which she was, and offered to go get a shovel and dig her out. While he was grabbing his shovel, a man in another car stopped to offer help. The young girl was on her way after a few minutes.
These scenarios remind me of the movie Pay It Forward. I saw it a long time ago, but the gist of it was that a person would do a good deed for another person, and this person would in turn do something nice for someone else.
I escaped the snow by spending time at the mall the following day. As I stood in line at a department store, I noticed the woman in front of me present a coupon with her purchase. I am usually very mindful of store coupons, but apparently I had missed this one in the latest circular. When I got to the counter, I asked the clerk for the discount. She told me that I needed the coupon. (By the way, I love the stores that give you the discount simply if you are a store credit card holder). Disgruntled, and about to pay full price, I was suddenly tapped on the shoulder. A woman behind me had overheard my conversation, and offered me one of her coupons. I asked her if she was sure, and she said yes; she had more. A stranger saved me ten dollars. I'll bet something nice had recently happened to her. And now I'm on the lookout for a good-deed opportunity myself.
© 2005 The