Friday, November 2, 2007
Property easements slow Bedford Road Footpath project
A legal oversight prevented the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) from opening a scheduled October 25 hearing on the Town Center Pathway Project. A check of the paperwork the day before the meeting had revealed that authorization for a key abutter's easement was missing. Acting as the applicant of record, the Town of Carlisle had filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to re-surface the existing five-foot-wide walkway along Bedford Road and construct three new pathways paralleling East, Lowell and Concord Streets. ConsCom approval was required under the Wetland Protection Act because the walkway will pass through the 100-foot buffer zone of Bordering Vegetated Wetlands in several locations on the expanding network.
Present to represent the town were Selectman Alan Carpenito and Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee (Pathways Committee) member Deb Belanger. ConsCom Chairman Peter Burn informed them that he could not open the hearing without the missing documentation. He explained that any ConsCom action was legally forbidden until the town produced the required authorization from all property owners granting easements for passage through their land. The Bedford Road property involved is protected by a Conservation Restriction (CR) held by the private Carlisle Conservation Foundation. This type of CR often precludes installation of an asphalt surface within its confines.
Belanger apologized for the omission, said the Pathways Committee would ask its pro bono real estate attorney to determine what is needed for compliance and asked to whom this answer should be directed. Burn pointed out that there were over ten such easements involved in the present project, and that all of them should be checked.
Commissioner Roy Watson went a step further, asking that a common authorization format be sought for all easements and that Town Counsel then be asked to declare the resulting documentation to be legal. Then, and only then, would the commission have the legal standing to act on the NOI. All agreed that caution was indeed indicated, and the applicant's representatives departed.
Conservation Commission approval was just the first of a number of final reviews faced by the Pathways project before work can commence. These include review by the Planning Board and the Tree Warden on October 29 and by the joint Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and Historical Commission on October 30.
A history of the project and of the volunteers who have worked for years to bring it to fruition can be found in the October 26 issue of the Mosquito. Belanger has set a completion goal of June 2008.
© 2007 The