Friday, July 21, 2006
Water remains key issue for Coventry Woods 40B
At the July 18 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), Doug Stevenson, Chair of Board of Selectmen, recognized that the 40B application process for the proposed 41-unit 40B development on Concord Street, known as Coventry Woods, needs to move forward. "There are a number of issues that the ZBA will need to address, namely well testing. It's unfair to the applicant and to the abutters to be in a state of indecision."
In the past month, the applicant and the abutters were able to reach agreement over many open issues in a memorandum of understanding (MOU), a document between the applicant, abutters and the town that would ensure no appeal would be made if the 40B application is granted. While consensus on MOU terms is "98% there," according to applicant Mark O'Hagan, water testing and landscaping issues remain the most important topics still open and under intense discussion.
ZBA members state concerns
At the request of the applicant and in the spirit of reaching closure on open issues, ZBA members weighed in with their specific concerns. ZBA Chair Cindy Nock said she was "pleased with the changes that have been made," that showed sensitivity to the surrounding area that impacts abutters and the environment. Blasting, however, is still an area that concerns her. "I would like [to treat] blasting as a last resort." She would like to see a list of approaches to avoid blasting, "like jack hammering rather than blasting."
Board member Steve Hinton expressed concerns about water quantity and quality. "We haven't spoken yet about what we are going to require of the applicant. Wrapped up in that is the issue of irrigation. That water is coming out of the same aquifer known to cause problems to residents in the area. If we make a mistake on water, it will be very costly to the town. [Creating] a public water system to supply water to the abutters would cost the town millions of dollars. I'm very sensitive to limited irrigation and the standards that we apply to assess whether abutter wells are impacted."
Board member Stephen Kirk focused on moving the process forward. "We want to represent the town and impose as many restrictions as possible. What I'm looking for is direction from peer consultants and Legal. What can we can put in [the permit] that is fair and legal?"
Board member Ed Rolfe felt comfortable with the project design and layout, commenting that "41 units is an improvement over the original 56 units."
ZBA attorney Dan Hill and peer review engineer Jerry Preble of Beals & Thomas will be drafting a document containing all remaining open issues about the 40B project, identified by priority, and will circulate it to all town boards and interested parties for review, discussion and resolution prior to closing the hearing closure and subsequent deliberation.
The next ZBA Coventry Woods 40B hearing is currently rescheduled for September 11.
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