The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 27, 2006


Town Meeting to vote on athletic facilities and housing

There are only five Articles on the Warrant for the Special Town Meeting on Monday, October 30, but discussion may take awhile. The first two Articles relate to the construction of athletic facilities on the Banta-Davis Land, a modified version of the proposal that passed Town Meeting last spring but was narrowly defeated at the polls. The third article seeks authorization to build affordable housing in a roadside field that is part of the town-owned Benfield Land on South Street — a proposal about which there are strong opinions on both sides. The remaining two Articles are related, moving site inspection responsibility for construction of personal wireless communication facilities from the Board of Selectmen to the Planning Board.

All the Articles are recommended by the Board of Selectmen, but votes on the first three articles were not unanimous.

Article 1 - basic rec plan

Authorizes the town to spend $1,594,800 to construct three recreation fields, tennis courts, pathways, a pavilion and associated extension of the roadway and parking on the Banta-Davis Land on Bedford Road. All fields would be natural grass, including one all-purpose field and two Little League baseball fields. One of the pathways would connect to the Carlisle School's Spalding Field on Church Street (See related article.)

A two-thirds majority vote is needed and an override of the Proposition 2.5 levy limit must be approved at the Town Election on November 7.

The FinCom voted 4-3 and the Selectmen voted 4-1 to support Article 1.

Article 2 - adds artificial turf

Passing this article would authorize spending an additional $578,600 to construct the new all-purpose field with artificial turf instead of the natural grass specified in Article 1. If both Articles pass, the average tax bill (about $8,500) will be increased by roughly $126.

A two-thirds majority is needed and a tax levy override must be approved by voters at the Town Election.

The FinCom voted 5-2 and the Selectmen voted 3-2 to support Article 2.

Article 3 proposes shifting affordable housing from Area 2 to Area 1 on the town-owned Benfield property. (Map prepared by Hal Shneider)

Article 3 - Benfield

The interior area of the Benfield Land originally planned for the location of an affordable housing development faces restrictions due to the presence of a rare blue-spotted salamander. The salamander's vernal pool breeding area and surrounding habitat is protected by the state. This Article would allow the housing to be built away from the habitat, near the edge of the property along South Street.

It had been hoped to hide the housing from the road because many wished to preserve the vista of the open field. According to draft wording, the motion under Article 3 will specify that "every effort is to be made to maintain to the extent feasible the rural vista of South Street."

The town voted to buy the 45-acre Benfield Land in Article 1 of the Special Town Meeting in March of 2004, for the combined uses of conservation, the construction of 26 units of affordable housing and an athletic field.

The town spent a year exploring options, and specific portions of the property were set aside for these three purposes when the Town adopted a usage strategy under Article 20 of Annual Town Meeting in May, 2005. At that time, Area 2 was reserved for housing and Area 4 for conservation. If the recreation field could be built in Area 3 then the roadside vista of Area 1 was to be preserved as open space. If Area 3 proved unsuitable, then the recreation field was to go in Area 1. (See map.)

What has changed? Area 4 remains dedicated to conservation and Area 3 is still the first choice location for the athletic field. Under Article 3, Area 2 will be kept as open space unless needed as the fall-back location for the athletic field, while the affordable housing is moved to Area 1.

The draft motion is daunting at over 1,000 words, but it parallels and is written to revise part of the even longer Benfield Motion 11 of Article 20 of the 2005 Annual Town Meeting.

The motion for Article 3 includes subsections (A) through (G) as follows:

(A) - Loosens the 2004 Special Town Meeting directive that housing be "not immediately visible from South Street" to protect the vista "to the extent feasible."

(B) - Authorizes deed restrictions of Area 2 and Area 3 to limit usage to open space and recreation.

(C) - Authorizes a deed restriction on Area 1 for community housing purposes.

(D) - Conveys management of Area 2 and Area 3 to the Recreation Commission, with the first choice location of the one permitted athletic field being Area 3.

(E) - Conveys management of Area 1 to the Housing Authority for the construction of up to 26 housing units.

(F) - Authorizes a permanent conservation restriction on Area 4.

(G) - Conveys management of Area 4 to the Conservation Commission. As before, a wastewater disposal field and water supply to support the housing is allowed in Area 4.

The Selectmen voted 3-1 to support Article 3. Selectman Alan Carpenito abstained because he is an abutter. The Fincom did not take a position on this Article.

Article 4

This housekeeping article would amend Section 5.9 of Carlisle's Zoning Bylaws to allow the Planning Board to review the site plan for any proposed personal wireless communications facility as part of the application to that board for a special permit. Applications shall also meet the requirements of the Rules and Regulations adopted by the Planning Board for such special permits. A two-thirds majority vote is needed for passage.

While the FinCom did not vote on Article 4, the Selectmen approved it unanimously.

Article 5

Since the previous Article gave the job of site plan review to the Planning Board, Article 5 amends Section 7.6 of the Zoning Bylaws to make clear that the site plan review would no longer be the responsibility of the Board of Selectmen. A two-thirds majority vote is needed.

The FinCom did not vote on this Article. The Selectmen approved it unanimously.

For the complete draft wording of the motions for Articles 1-5, download the Articles in PDF format.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito