Friday, July 15, 2005
Planning Board approves subdivision to define land value
The Planning Board reviewed and approved a Preliminary Subdivision Plan submitted by Robert and Margaret Hilton for 70 Lowell Street entitled "Sugar Hollow" on June 27.
The applicant wishes to establish the market value of the land, but has no intention of building on the new lot delineated by the plan. The Hiltons' objective is to create conservation restrictions on the land and, under Internal Revenue Service rules, receive a tax benefit on the value of the donation.
Three lots on 3.3 acres
in town center
The Hilton's plan, presented by Joe March of Stamski & McNary, Inc., divides their 3.3 acres into three building lots. There are two existing homes on the land. House lots developed in the center of town are required to have at least one acre and 150 feet of frontage on a street. The plan creates a subdivision road with all three house lots gaining frontage on the new street. The land currently would only support two houses without a subdivision road. March explained, "The intent is to restrict property so that the additional house could not be built."
According to March, submitting a plan for approval has "become an industry standard" in order to meet appraisal standards for determination of the value of the donation.
Ken Harte of Estabrook Road explained, "The [conservation] restriction planned will be permanent. No matter what happens in the future there will only be two houses. The restriction is in favor of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation."
Abutters question subdivision approval
Eight abutters present at the meeting questioned the process, plan and meaning of the approval. "I don't understand; seems like elaborate effort," said Colleen Klein of 62 Lowell Street. Klein described the proposal as "very concerning to me."
"Common sense and IRS rules have nothing in common," answered Ken Harte to the question of the purpose of the plan. "The applicants have submitted this plan in order to establish the highest value for the land."
March attempted to clarify the abutter's question about the Preliminary Plan process saying, "The purpose is so you can discuss the plan and bring out all the issues." Lee Perlman of Blaisdell Drive questioned whether "approval now would mean that you were putting aside the more technical side." Member Louise Hara explained the criteria for accepting a preliminary plan are simpler than with the more formal process of the definitive plan.
Dan Holzman of Blaisdell Drive, a former Planning Board member, noted that one of the existing homes is a "non-conforming dwelling" under Carlisle zoning. Holzman asked how the preliminary plan affects that. March responded, "No change. It makes it no more non-conforming."
"We're not giving them more rights by doing this, we're just facilitating the conservation gift." responded Chair David Freedman. He continued gesturing to Harte sitting next to the applicant Bob Hilton, "I find it hard to believe that Mr. Harte is involved in a scam."
No plan delineating the area to be restricted was presented to the Planning Board. In order to restrict the land, the Hiltons will have to file a plan with the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds demarcating the conservation areas. Such a plan will not require Planning Board approval.
The board's unanimous approval waived the project review fee for engineering review and the requirement of names of all parties of interest. The names of the abutters across the street were not included as required on the plan although they were notified.
© 2005 The