Friday, January 19, 2007
Buttrick Woods violation lesson: read your deed
Potential agreement has been reached between the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) and three other parties seeking to remedy a violation of both the Rules and Regulations for Carlisle Conservation Lands and the terms of a Conservation Restriction (CR #52). Most anxious to resolve the situation at ConsCom's January 10 hearing was the recipient of an official Notice of Violation, namely Buttrick Woods resident Kevin Balboni. His story is one that might move other landowners to take a look at their deeds to be certain there are no references to restrictions on abutting land use nor any overlooked Orders of Conditions never removed from the document by a Certificate of Compliance from the commission.
The original Open Space Parcel Restriction was first recorded at the Registry of Deeds on October 20, 1999 when Buttrick Woods developer Landwest received Planning Board approval to develop a Conservation Cluster off Concord Street and set a part of the land aside as Open Space Parcel A. The official document stated that the land "must remain in its natural state with no trees or other vegetation removed, no structures of any type and no grading of any typetherein." Nine days later Balboni purchased Lot 11 in the cluster and recorded a deed that referenced the Open Space Restriction.
At the 2002 Spring Town Meeting, the townspeople voted to place a Conservation Restriction (CR) on that and several other parcels bordering Harvard University's Estabrook Woods, and in 2004 the CR was recorded at the Registry of Deeds. The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), a statewide environmental organization, was named as grantee, charged with monitoring compliance with the restrictions.
Later in 2004, ConsCom became aware of violations by three Buttrick Woods landowners and sent letters to those responsible. Two acted immediately, but following two years of inaction on Balboni's part, an official Notice of Violation was sent to him on October 16, 2006 stating that construction of a swing set and prohibited grading in the protected area would no longer be tolerated and threatening imposition of substantial fines if no action were tasken. Balboni had the offending swing set removed immediately, and at an October 24 hearing he was asked to report back on removal of an illegal 50-foot berm that had spilled over into the conservation land.
When Balboni returned on January 10, Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC) chairman John Keating and TTOR representative Chris Rockstrom were present to recommend appropriate remedial steps. Both called for removal of the grading, return of the plot to its natural state and a permanent, visible indication of the lot line. Balboni did not deny the violation but said he did not want the prescribed cure to be more damaging than the disease.
After a brief discussion about the grading and general agreement that the commission must act, Commissioner Tricia Smith suggested that the home owner hire a landscape professional to draw up a plan that would create a pleasant vista for the residents, while establishing a clear demarcation of the CR boundary. Balboni felt that made sense, as long as the solution did not include a wall or fence. "I don't want to block our view of that scenic area," he explained.
Welcoming a proposal that everyone could agree upon, Chairman Roy Watson asked the three parties involved to confer on the final plan and present it for approval in the near future.
© 2007 The