The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 6, 2006


Talks continue on Coventry Woods 40B

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) reconvened on December 15 to continue the hearing on the Coventry Woods 40B application, which proposes construction of a 56-unit, age-restricted condominium development off Concord Street. Safety problems in a single-access development, the incompleteness of the application documentation and water issues were prime concerns cited by the members of town boards, abutters, and by the engineering peer review team hired to review the project.

Another outcome of the meeting was the recommendation by both Planning Board and Board of Selectmen representatives that Carlisle draft a set of local 40B Review and Decision Guidelines.

Housing density adjustment

The plan for Coventry Woods calls for five times the number of housing units that would normally be allowed on the property under Carlisle zoning. The higher density is allowed by state statute Chapter 40B if at least 25% of housing created will meet state affordability criteria. Mark O'Hagan, the applicant of the Coventry Woods 40B, expressed a willingness to consider adjustments to the number of units.

Engineering Peer Review

Peer Review Consultants Gerry Preble and Holly Johnson of Beals and Thomas presented their initial findings with the application. Preble said the application did not have enough information to adequately review it. For instance, it was unclear if the plans could meet Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) water standards.

Well testing recommended

The state has approved well testing on the site, but has not yet fully approved the development. Preble recommended a 48-hour pump test to determine water supply, impact on wetlands, and impact on abutter wells.

Other areas of the application that the consultant highlighted as being incomplete included: water balance calculations; entry-way measurements; the traffic study; the amount of ledge on site; site development plan; ownership of open space; sprinkler system plan; plan to mitigate exterior light pollution; the access road; sewage disposal distance to groundwater; an adequate tree protection plan for the site; and the list of zoning waivers. It was also stated that the application inconsistently describes the type of development project, mentioning it as both a single- and multiple-phase project.

ZBA comments

ZBA Chair Cindy Nock questioned the housing density and proximity to abutters on the Spencer Brook side. O'Hagan said that density can be evaluated and now is a good time to identify and adjust the number of units.

The plan currently shows only one access road, and the ZBA worried about adequate emergency access to the future homes. O'Hagan agreed to include the Carlisle Fire Chief in road safety discussions.

Selectmen's questions

John Williams represented the Board of Selectmen, and highlighted several concerns. Selectmen would like better assurance that the water quality and quantity will be adequate for both the Coventry Woods residents and the abutters. Given the amount of blasting expected, Williams sought details of how public safety would be addressed during construction. He also questioned the application's completeness.

Planning Board concerns

David Freedman shared the Planning Board's concerns with the Coventry Woods application, which included the incomplete waiver list and other application data, the long driveway and the abnormally high density of the project. He stressed the importance of town rules and regulations for 40B projects since, unlike most towns and cities in Massachusetts, Carlisle does not have municipal water and sewer. Freedman noted that a more definitive plan is required from the applicant in order for the ZBA to approve the permit. He said the Planning Board would like to have continued input during future working sessions on this project.

The next ZBA meeting on the Coventry Woods 40B application is scheduled for Monday, January 30, at 8 p.m.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito