Friday, September 15, 2006
ZBA endorses input of town boards, Coventry Woods abutters
The Monday night meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) was a continuation of the Coventry Woods development hearing, a hearing that has lasted well over a year. On August 9, an ad hoc committee of individuals and town boards met to discuss a variety of concerns which they gathered into a matrix of 24 points ranging from water supply to sufficiency of plans. Represented on that committee were the Planning Board, the Planning Administrator (George Mansfield), the Board of Health, the Health Agent (Linda Fantasia), the Conservation Commission, the Conservation Commissioner (Sylvia Willard), the Assistant Building Inspector, and the Zoning Board of Appeals' Engineering Concultant.The 24 points of the matrix were the focus of the ZBA's discussion on Monday night.
The 41-unit Coventry Woods development is being proposed for a 21-acre site on Concord Street.The development is being submitted under the state's 40B statute, that allows a project to bypass most local zoning regulation as long as at least 25% of the new housing qualifies as affordable housing.
Dan Hill, the ZBA's legal advisor, explained that the ad hoc committee met informally to narrow the outstanding issues and recommendations in order to convey to the developer what he needs to do to complete the process of application. After reviewing the two dozen items of concern, the ZBA voted to endorse the ad hoc committee's work and charged the developer, Mark O'Hagan, to provide all the requested information at the ZBA meeting on September 25.
O'Hagan plans to submit "definitive level plans" to the ZBA by September 18. However, he is still evaluating the ad hoc committee's matrix items, and expects to have answers to those and any other ZBA requests by September 25. At that public meeting, the ZBA intends to enter the plans into the record and distribute them to all the relevant town boards for review.
The review by the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) may take awhile, because many the proposed locations of many of the housing units lie within the 100-foot wetland buffer zone. The state's Wetland Protection Act limits work in and around wetlands. (See "ConsCom seeks Coventry Woods wetlands filing," page 1)
Board chair Cindy Nock continued the Coventry Woods hearing to September 25.
The ad hoc committee first discussed water supply testing protocol. Hill noted that the developer would set an escrow account aside for well maintenance and repair, amounting to $10,000 per well on the property. The escrow fund could amount to as much as $80,000 if all eight wells recommended by the committee are included in the testing. (See "Tensions rise over Coventry Woods 40B water testing," June 23.) The developer originally offered to test only two or three of the eight abutters' wells.
A number of suggestions followed, including hiring a water consultant with expertise in evaluating the fractured bedrock conditions of the site and installing a monitoring well on the property to continue to test the possible impact on abutters' wells. The Board of Health (BOH) had concerns about whether the proposed testing model was clear, and the ZBA agreed to table their discussion of this issue until the BOH has had a chance to give input.
Irrigation well use questioned
Also discussed was a proposed irrigation well. The committee preferred that irrigation should be minimized and limited. They requested that the developer provide justification and a plan for specific irrigation. The group recommended a cistern well provide water for firefighting. The ZBA added that the Fire Chief should be consulted, and members of the audience also suggested that any irrigation well should be included in the annual report of water usage.
A discussion of wastewater management yielded the request that the homeowners' association should establish a replacement fund with an initial deposit of $35,000 for the septic system and wells. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will review this proposal. The DEP has new standards for septic systems, including pressure dosing to spread effluent over the leaching field. Plans that meet these new standards have not yet been submitted by the developer. The BOH wants a review and inspection fee of $5,000 built into the plan for the septic system and mounding analysis.
Audience members requested that the plan provide the greatest possible distance between the septic system and abutters' wells, and that quarterly testing be instituted to ensure that effluent is not seeping into those wells. In addition, the ad hoc committee requested a pre-blast survey to measure blasting impacts to the sewage disposal systems of abutting properties. Also requested were an identification of the location of bedrock and the extent, duration and hours of operation of anticipated blasting.
In the committee's matrix, the developer is also asked to complete storm water management calculations. The hearing clarified requests to remove storm water drainage basins from the buffer zone. Low-impact development design elements were suggested, including limiting lawns and justifying any mature-tree removals. Also requested is more documentation about non-disturb zones, outdoor lighting, maintenance, stone wall preservation and landscaping. Additionaly, it was requested that vernal pools on the property be delineated, and several plans (land use, erosion control, architectural and elevations, roadway profiles, storage areas and others) be completed and submitted to the ZBA by the developer.
In other business, the ZBA discussed a general timeline for wrapping up the Laurel Hollow 40B development at Rocky Point, off Lowell Street. A hearing will be held on October 5 to be sure the public is aware of the resolution of the punch list of remaining items that are required in order for issuance of occupancy permits.
Board member Steve Hinton reported that four applicants will be interviewed for the position of housing coordinator/administrative assistant, the new town employee being sought to help the ZBA, Housing Authority and Town Administrator.
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