The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 2, 2007


Profile of the Carlisle Planning Board

The responsibilities of the volunteers who serve on Carlisle's Planning Board include many aspects of land use and development. The board reviews, recommends and administers the Zoning Bylaws, and much of the board's time is taken up with review of subdivisions and special permits. The Planning Board is the special permit-granting authority for Private Common Driveways, Conservation Clusters, Accessory Apartments, Senior Residence Open Space Communities, and Personal Wireless Communication Facilities.

Every division of land, including modification of boundaries, must come before the Planning Board. The board makes a determination if the submitted plan constitutes a subdivision. It is a subdivision and is thereby subject to the board's Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land, if a new roadway is required to "create" the required frontage for the lots. If the lot or lots represented on the plan have the requisite frontage on an existing town road and conform to the area and shape requirements specified in the Zoning Bylaws, the board endorses the plan with the notation: "Approval Not Required."

Professional staff helps the board

In addition to outside consultants, engaged as needed, the board is supported by a professional staff. Planning Administrator George Mansfield has served as Planning Administrator for the Town since 1996. He is an urban planner who has worked in similar capacities in other Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities, has also taught city planning at WPI and URI and has worked for HUD in Washington, D.C. He also serves on the Newton Board of Aldermen, and currently chairs the committee that reviews and approves all major development proposals in that city.

Gretchen Caywood, part-time Administrative Assistant to Mansfield and the Planning Board, is a recent career changer who occasionally consults part-time in her field of chemistry. While not a Carlisle resident, she has lived in the area for some time, and said, "I appreciate the sense of community at Town Hall. I am enjoying working for George and the Board, and find the depth and breadth of discussions in the meetings and at the office very interesting."

The seven-member board has a regular meeting on the second and fourth Monday of every month with some "downtime" in the summer and during November and December. For the next town election, three 3-year positions will be on the ballot. Lawyers, engineers (hardware and software), artists, town planners and others have served with distinction over the years and have helped Carlisle to evolve without losing its unique character. The following contributions from the present board members will give some insight to the board's responsibilities and members' experiences. Several of the members attended to Mansfield's call for more visibility of the board's operations in order to inspire more candidates for office and submitted more than a brief biography for this board profile.

Tom Lane

Tom Lane ran for the Planning Board in 1999 as a civic service opportunity. He said, "My background doesn't have anything to suggest that I ought to be on the Planning Board. I write statistical software for a living. My educational background is in mathematics. In the early nineties I was on the board of trustees for a condominium association; that's the closest thing that I had ever done before."

During his five-year term, he was treasurer and was responsible for preparing the budget for Finance Committee approval. He also represented the board on the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee.

When his term ended in 2004, he stayed on as an associate board member. Of that experience he said, "Being an associate member is a great way for someone who is curious about the board to learn the ropes. As an associate member you can attend meetings, and may be appointed to participate in special permit hearings along with the full members. This is very helpful to the board, because the state requires that at least five members attend all sessions of a special permit hearing, and the associate member may enable the board to meet this quorum requirement even when full members miss some sessions."

Last year a regular board member resigned and Tom agreed to step in as a full member. The Planning Board and the Selectmen appointed him to complete the term. He noted, "Nowadays the term is for three years, not five years as when I first joined, so we hope this shorter commitment will be more attractive to potential candidates."

Brian Larson

After retiring from industry, Brian Larson's path onto the Planning Board began by volunteering as an associate member. He said, "Participating in town government does return benefits. For me, working with the many talented people on subjects important to our community is quite rewarding. If you have an interest in the regulation of land use, come join us. With three upcoming vacancies, we need volunteers. The Planning Board's Special Permit process for land use approvals leads to many topics for making one's own contribution."

David Freedman

Giving his reasons for not running for re-election, David Freedman said, "I've lived in Carlisle for almost nine years and have served on the Planning Board for over half that time, the last two years as Chair. I'll be stepping down from the board this May to put more time into my graphic design business and to enjoy my son's last year of high school before he heads off to college."

"I got involved with the board after representing my neighborhood as we worked to get our roadways ready for acceptance as town roads," he explained, adding,"The process has been extremely rewarding and I have had the pleasure of serving with many smart committed fellow citizens who care deeply about their community, both on the Planning Board and on other boards and committees with which we interact regularly, as well as with the excellent staff in Town Hall, particularly George Mansfield, our thoughtful and dedicated Planning Administrator, and Gretchen Caywood, his cheerful and effective assistant."

G. Kent Gonzales

Originally from Colorado, Kent Gonzales moved to Carlisle nearly eight years ago with his wife Carole, a Concord native and CCHS graduate, and stepdaughter Elizabeth, who graduated from CCHS and will be one of 15 seniors inducted into Phi Beta Kappa when she graduates this spring from Colgate. Son Will is currently a happy second grader at the Carlisle School.

Kent is a vice president at National Development of New England, a real estate development firm based in Newton Lower Falls. Kent joined the Planning Board three years ago hoping to contribute something from his nearly 25 years of diverse experience in real estate development. "The issues facing the Carlisle Planning Board are different from those facing more urbanized communities. Nevertheless, the numerous and various issues that the Planning Board deals with are important to the character of Carlisle. My experience on the board has been rewarding and humbling. It is inspirational to see, first-hand, how committed and conscientious all the different board and committee members are when it comes to guiding and making decisions that affect the community. I've learned a great deal about Carlisle and have gained a whole new appreciation for community volunteerism."

Michael Epstein

Planning Board member Michael Epstein initially served on the board for seven years and, after a two-year hiatus, has rejoined. He is a real estate attorney and has been instrumental in drafting changes to rules and regulations, as well as formulating bylaw changes.

Greg Peterson

Board member Greg Peterson specializes in real estate and environmental law at Hill and Barlow in Boston. He is also a director in the Carlisle Conservation Foundation and a trustee in the Carlisle Land Trust, both private groups open to anyone devoted to preserving Carlisle's open space.

Peter Stuart

Peter Stuart is a Registered Architect and has been a resident of Carlisle for 20 years. He has served on the Town Building Committee, the Historical Commission and the School Building Committee.

Stuart said, "My professional experience as an architect, my familiarity with Carlisle and my service on various boards have all provided me with the necessary tools and understanding to be an effective member of the Planning Board."

His term expires this year and he said, "I believe that the two major issues that the town and the Planning Board will face over the next several years are: (1) The need for long-range planning to insure a balance of housing types and population so that we will not lose Carlisle's rural character while trying to meet this challenge. (2) The careful, but also fair and equitable implementation of the subdivision control bylaws, especially since more and more of the new subdivisions will be on increasingly marginal land."

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito