The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005


Town officials advise ZBA on Coventry Woods

At Monday night's meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) decided to engage Beals and Thomas as their peer engineering review team who will assist them in reviewing the Coventry Woods 40B application and make recommendations on the proposed development. Abutters and their attorney, Ken Kimmel, Carlisle's Assistant Building Inspector, John Minty, and the ZBA attorney, Dan Hill, all supported the decision calling Beals and Thomas "a first rate group" and "well respected."

Projects filed under the state statute Chapter 40B do not need to comply with most local zoning restrictions as long as 25% of the housing meets affordability restrictions. The Coventry Woods plan includes 56 housing units to be located on an 22.6-acre parcel off South Street.


from other town boards

The ZBA solicited input from other town boards on the Coventry Woods 40B application. Members from the Board of Health, Planning Board, Fire Department (Chief), and Housing Authority were present and described their findings to the ZBA, which were entered into public record.

Board of Health concerns

While the boards' feedback will be submitted for engineering peer review and analyzed throughout the 40B application review period, several reoccurring issues surfaced during the presentations, namely the water and sewage issues. Linda Fantasia from the Board of Health said that they are requesting that water testing be performed before a permit is issued. Applicant Mark O'Hagan said that his firm doesn't dig wells and test prior to a permit being issued because of the expense, which is typically between $60-80,000. Ken Kimmel, attorney for the abutters responded that "the [water] issue is a core, essential issue that cannot be deferred. When you have a core issue like this, you can't issue a permit subject to getting an adequate water supply. The lot count depends on that testing. You can't approve the number of units until the water can be addressed."

Concerning the financial impact on the applicant to drill and test before a permit is issued, an abutter stated that he didn't understand why there would be an issue. "[The applicant] is going to spend the same amount of money to do the testing before or after. [We] are not asking for something unreasonable."

In addition to supply, abutter Michael Epstein raised the issue of water quality and how the development could potentially change the water quality in the surrounding wells and in the area itself.

The Board of Health requires a financial guarantee for repair and maintenance of water supply and sewage from which the applicant has requested a waiver.

Fire Department

David Flannery, Carlisle Fire Chief, presented the fire department's feedback on the Coventry Woods 40B application. Among the key concerns are the inadequate emergency water supply and the too-narrow access road. Flannery stated that emergency vehicles would not be able to maneuver around the development adequately.

Planning Board

Having submitted a four-page memorandum detailing deficiencies in the Coventry Woods application to the ZBA, the Planning Board's key areas of concern focus on

• omissions in the applicant's Development Impact Report and request it contain a full traffic study

• the lack of detailed drainage calculations

• detailed analysis and documentation of current water supplies and use

• fire safety and emergency vehicle access

• the incomplete list of waivers to local bylaws and regulations, including calling into question the waiver asking that the application be accepted as submitted and be recognized as complete

Housing Authority

Appearing for the Carlisle Housing Authority (CHA), Alan Lehotsky outlined their recommendations for the Coventry Woods application, which were unanimously approved at the Housing Authority meeting on November 17. They recommend that seven of the affordable units be "end units," which are larger living spaces. In the application, only one unit of the 14 affordable units is an end unit "despite the fact that there are 30 end units in the development." They also recommend that no age-restrictions be applied to the affordable units and they be open to anyone meeting the legal eligibility requirements. They believe that those requirements would favor local employees.

Excluding children?

Several abutters have expressed their concern over the impact of the Coventry Woods development on the school system if the development allows school-aged children. Dan Hill, attorney for the ZBA, researched the possibility of the ZBA imposing a condition on a comprehensive permit for age-restricted housing development such that no housing unit could be occupied by families or households with children. "Although federal and state law generally prohibit discrimination in the sale and rental of housing on the basis of age of the household's occupants, age discrimination is not illegal, however, if the housing qualifies as 'housing for older persons' and complies with the relevant provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act," according to Hill.

Next step

A Coventry Woods site visit and walk through is scheduled for December 3 at 1p.m. for the ZBA and interested parties.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito