Friday, February 2, 2007
Zoning Board of Appeals holds Coventry Woods hearing open, but applicant considers it closed
At the end of Monday night's four-hour Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing on the Coventry Woods 40B application, attorney for the applicant, Lou Levine, presented the board with a letter giving notice that the applicant now considers the public hearing closed. This followed ZBA attorney Dan Hill's recommendation that the board require a current copy of the applicant's pro forma, a document which would outline issues which the applicant believes make the ZBA's demands uneconomic.
Passing copies of his letter to board members and counsel, Levine stated, "The [pro forma] request further exacerbates [this matter]. We don't want to go to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), but wethought we were at closure. We're requesting the hearing to be closed. We are not going to participate in these studies with the pro forma. We expect that it will be closed and you are free to do what you want."
Hill replied, addressing the board: "The pro forma is what the applicant believes the costs would be. The applicant has made it clear that the draft [decision] has become uneconomic. At that point, it's appropriate to request a pro forma that contains all of the conditions that are uneconomic [to the applicant].We have a chicken and egg situation here. There isn't a permit, but there is enough information to request from the applicant what the issues are that he feels are uneconomic."
ZBA attorney Art Krieger added, "I don't know that any applicant can declare this hearing be closed. The applicant can go to the HAC to request that the hearing be closed. The applicant is free to not go to additional hearings. The letter says what it says, but the hearing is not closed." Hill further stated to the board that, "Your hearing continues as if nothing happens. Whatever the applicant submits to you the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) tells you what to do."
Discussions leading up to this dramatic turn, in what has been the longest 40B application hearing for the largest 40B proposed development in Carlisle history, stemmed from discussions over outstanding ZBA peer review engineering bills, waste management and water testing. Since October of 2005, the Coventry Woods 40B hearing has been considering the application of Mark O'Hagan of MCO & Associates, taking technical, and at times emotional, input from concerned parties — abutters, peer review engineers, legal counsel and town boards.
Concerns about septic system
The past several weeks saw the 40B hearing winding down, but vital issues concerning water and waste management, which had been discussed throughout the hearings and remained unresolved, reached critical mass during the hearing. The Board of Health (BOH), concerned with the septic system, identified as "septic system C" in the application site plan, recommended that the applicant conduct groundwater mounding analysis in accordance with Title 5 regulations as well as a solute transport model proving that nitrogen and fecal levels, among other potentially unsafe entities, are measured at zero colonies and units before the 40B permit is issued. BOH Chairperson Martha Bedrosian, stated: "The board is concerned with the lateral movement of materials." She said that peer engineers working with the Board of Health feel that the size of the septic system is large and "inconstructable." "We need the groundwater mounding analysis test and other transport models done prior to the issuing of the permit," Bedrosian stated.
Following some discussion between ZBA counsel and board members, Bedrosian continued, "Some testing has been done, but the test wells that were done weren't deep enough.Title 5 is a minimum standard, which isn't satisfactory for Carlisle. [The BOH] is here to protect the residents of Carlisle. [We] feel that the development may be impacted negatively.I have to stress that the ZBA has the responsibility to take the opinion of the BOH. I have the feeling that [we're] not being heard. We are here to do what is in the best interest of the citizens of Carlisle and the future residents of Carlisle."
The ZBA agreed with the BOH recommendation and passed a motion to require the applicant to perform groundwater mounding analysis prior to obtaining the 40B permit. Applicant Mark O'Hagan responded, "From a practical sense, we need to get a permit from the Board of Health. We've laid out a planI don't see what the issue is, pre- or post-permit. We need to submit a system that is in compliance with the Title 5 and BOH requirements. We're in compliance with the requirements. Our engineers have done an extensive amount of work. If it's not in compliance with Title 5, then we'll be back here [before the ZBA]. We think we have designed an adequate system, though."
BOH wants well testing
The Board of Health further recommended that well testing be completed before the 40B permit is granted, specifically a 48-hour water, as well as a hydraulic connectivity test, to be conducted when the aquifer is already challenged by the summer climate, potentially in August 2007.
Regarding the at-issue irrigation well, landscape peer review engineer Dave LaPointe of Beals and Thomas suggested that with the right plantings and alternative approaches to landscaping, it is feasible that no irrigation well be required at all.
Next hearing February 5
Closing the hearing for the evening, the ZBA tabled the water and landscape issues until the next meeting which is currently scheduled for February 5 at 7:30 p.m. The ZBA also required the applicant to deposit $20,000 into their escrow account.
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