Friday, October 21, 2005
BOA hears Coventry Woods 40B comprehensive permit proposal
The Carlisle Board of Appeals (BOA) meeting on Monday, October 17, kicked-off the monthly hearings on the Coventry Woods 40B development proposal. Parties of interest gathered at Town Hall to hear the details of the proposed plan. The entire evening was devoted to the Coventry Woods presentation and to setting up a road map for subsequent meetings.
The Coventry Woods developer proposes a unusual option for affordable housing in Carlisle. Mark C. O'Hagan (MCO) & Associates, Inc., the applicants, propose to develop the 22.6 acre parcel off Concord Street into a 56-unit, age-restricted town-house community. Fourteen (25%) of the 56-units are deemed "affordable" under 40B laws. Each of the affordable units would have approximately 1800 square feet of living space: two bedrooms with a master suite on the first floor, 2.5 baths, and a one- car garage. The price tag on these affordable homes is targeted at $163,000 and the units would be interspersed throughout the development.
To qualify for one of the affordable town houses, prospects must have income below maximum allowable limits for household size. For example, a three-person household must not have an income greater than $59,550. If the prospect owns a home which would be sold to purchase the affordable town home, he or she must not have more than $150,000 in equity or more than $50,000 or less in household assets. As part of the age restriction, one member of the household must be 55 years of age or older.
Ten of the 14 affordable units have been set aside for local residents — those current Carlisle residents, parents of current Carlisle residents, employees of the Town of Carlisle, or those who work in Carlisle. Preference is given in all cases to households with a minimum of two people. Second preference will be given to single-person households.
The 40B town houses not deemed "affordable" in the Coventry Woods proposal also have two bedrooms with the master suite on the first floor and 2.5 bathrooms, but are slightly larger at 2400 square feet and have two-car garages. These units are expected to sell at between $550,000 and $650,000.
The plan also incorporates approximately 81% of open space in the plan, including a park area at the entrance.
Causes for concern
While this was the first formal presentation from the developer, MCO & Associates, to the community, abutters have been evaluating the proposed plan for several months. They have retained legal counsel and written letters to the Board of Appeals as well as to the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency and State Representatives, stating their grave concerns about the broad impact of such a large-scale development in Carlisle, as well as their opposition to the development as it is currently planned. In her April 10, 2005 letter to the Board of Appeals, Heidi B. Kummer, MD, of Spencer Brook Road, an abutter to the proposed Coventry Woods development, writes, "Just this month Boston Magazine's lead article was on 'Best Places to Live," and Carlisle was ranked number one for 'The Quiet Seeker,' stating that you won't find a single traffic light on the winding wooded roads of Carlisle, nor apartment complexes, industrial parks or fast food joints. The Coventry Woods project as proposed has the potential to change all that."
Presenting the Coventry Woods plan, Mark O'Hagan of MCO & Associates, Inc., said, "we understand that [Coventry Woods] is very different from the town. We'll work with the town to address the concerns as they come up." For the abutters especially, those concerns have already risen. Since there is no town water or sewage to service Coventry Woods, abutters as well as town officials fear that the density of the project could jeopardize the water supply and purity of the existing wells in the area.
Wetland habitat and other important environmental impact concerns, public safety, density, plan design and the so-called "age restricted" definition top the list of issues that abutters and other involved parties would like to have further analyzed and discussed.
Ken Hoffman of Spencer Brook Lane, was concerned about the impact of the development on the school system, because he believes that many families with one parent aged 55 still have school-aged children. He said "I didn't think anything tonight would shock me. But I'm shocked the definition of age restriction has gone by the board."
The Board of Appeals also has a long list of requirements and requests for additional data, and will analyze the proposal further once they select an Engineering Peer Review consultant at the BOA meeting on Thursday, November 3.
© 2005 The