Friday, May 4, 2007
Shorts from the Selectmen, April 24
· Affordable Accessory Apartments stalled. Elizabeth Barnett, Carlisle's Administrative Coordinator, presented an update on why the state has not approved the town's Affordable Accessory Apartments bylaw, approval Carlisle has pursued for many months. A sticking point is that the state prefers permanent deed restrictions on apartments, and homeowners are not interested in this kind of plan. "People are very interested to participate," she reports, but not if the affordability restriction cannot be removed. Barnett says the new state administration may be more flexible on this point.
· Coventry Woods lessons. The closing of the 40B comprehensive permit hearing to build the Coventry Woods condominium development on Concord Street prompted Chair Doug Stevenson to note the "tremendous effort" on the part of Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members "to work through our first [large] 40B." But he pointed to six-figure legal fee overruns and said, "We can't afford financially to have this kind of learning curve." It was agreed a debriefing session will be held to come up with a plan for approaching the next 40B, including a document delineating the duties of developers.
State Law Chapter 40B allows a developer to submit a comprehensive permit with the ZBA overriding most local zoning restrictions when a minimum of 20-25% of the housing qualifies as affordable to persons with low and moderate incomes.
· Municipal Housing Consortium. Barnett presented information from the Merrimac Valley Regional Housing Consortium (MVRHP) in which she is taking part and which she would like Carlisle to join. Several of these consortia have sprung up to allow towns to share expertise in dealing with 40Bs. Although none of the consortia addresses all the needs of Carlisle, this one, which includes Chelmsford, Billerica, Westford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury `and Tyngsborough contains many experienced people and has advocated for change in housing laws at the State House. "Towns dependent on wells and septic need to band together." In addition, the group is "very collaborative and generous with their time. There's no book (on dealing with 40Bs) — you learn from other people's mistakes." She noted the town of Harvard has used a contract to push legal fees back onto developers, a point of great interest to the Selectmen. Barnett will find out more details.
· Carlisle School wastewater treatment plant costs. The facility's operation is running $20,000 to $30,000 higher per year than anticipated. Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie noted the school business manager "has expressed some frustration that there may not have been as much scrutiny of operating costs as there should have been." Budgeted for $66,000, it will come in at $88,000 for FY07.
· Restroom shortage. Selectman Alan Carpenito proposed a plan be put in place to solve the problem of bikers using the bushes around Ferns to relieve themselves. "People in the town center shouldn't have to deal with that." Given that the Ferns expansion (which includes bathrooms) has been slowed by septic concerns, it was agreed to approach Larry Bearfield regarding coming up with an interim plan.
· Comcast license. The cable license is up for renewal next year and there is currently no one on the town's cable committee. An effort will be made to recruit new members. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact the Town Administrator for more information.
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