Friday, March 3, 2006
ConsCom closes hearing on Greystone Crossing
Plans for Greystone Crossing's basic infrastructure received a nod from the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) after many weeks of consultation and negotiation involving the commission, the Planning Board and the applicant. By the time developer William Costello and Stamski and McNary engineer George Dimakarakos made their final appearance at ConsCom's February 23 meeting, the subjects for discussion had dwindled down to two — the maintenance requirements to be written into the Homeowners' Association Trust document, and the final status of a pedestrian walkway that will roughly parallel the Cross Street boundary.
The Greystone project is a 15-lot conservation cluster covering 47.3 acres. The development will be served by three common driveways, only two of which fall within ConsCom's area of jurisdiction under the Wetland Protection Act; but the rugged terrain made protection of groundwater, management of storm water, prevention of pollution and protection of wildlife habitat major challenges for all parties. Two wetland crossings will necessitate 1,421 square feet of wetland fill and 2,058 square feet of proposed wetland replication to fulfill ConsCom's requirement for 125% replacement of a destroyed wetland area.
A conservation cluster allows developers to build one house more than usual zoning allows, in exchange for preserving at least 30% of the land (and at least ten acres) as open space. Greystone Crossing includes a pedestrian walkway, and will include 14.4 acres of open space to be deeded to the town, and administered by the ConsCom. The development will also contain a pedestrian walkway, part of which crosses the land to be given to the town.
ConsCom members were concerned that they not be responsible for maintenance of "constructed infrastructure," specifically the paved sidewalk, as they do not have the money, equipment or inclination to assume that role. It was Costello who came up with a solution by which the path will be given as an easement to the town, thus permitting maintenance by the Department of Public Works. The major areas of open space within the development will be the commission's responsibility.
The second and related issue that was finally put to rest was the question of the infrastructure maintenance agreement to be written into the Homeowners' Association Trust rules to assure that neither the town nor its agent, the Conservation Commission, end up having to maintain the complex drainage and storm water management facilities over time. At the commission's insistence, the Homeowners' Association Trust document requires that an initial $500 deposit be required of each lot buyer, followed by an annual contribution of $400 to go into a maintenance fund. Specific monitoring responsibilities are written into the agreement, with clear enforcement specifications that assure that, should court action ever be required to guarantee performance, it would be at the Trust's expense. Fees for snow plowing will be separate, and maintenance funds may not be used for that purpose.
The commission closed the public hearing on the project but will issue an extensive Order of Conditions governing all aspects of construction in locations that require work within the 100-foot buffer zone of all areas subject to the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act. However, future construction on individual lots that require work within the 100-foot buffer zone of a wetland will be subject to individual Notices of Intent (NOIs) for ConsCom review.
As Costello gathered up his various documents to depart the premises, Commissioner Roy Watson surprised his colleagues, and certainly the developer, by rising and praising him for his "patience and flexibility through a long and difficult process." Describing the Greystone project as "a template for future developments," he concluded, "I feel that a public thank you is appropriate."
© 2006 The