Friday, December 14, 2007
Shorts from the Planning Board, Dec. 10
Reviewing the agenda for the evening, Chair Michael Epstein observed that, notwithstanding the fact that there have been no new building permits issued in 15 months, the Planning Board has been very busy. Some of the support staff have been in overtime-mode to keep up with items before the board.
• Town Center Pathways. Due to Historical Commission input, the Pedestrian and Bike Safety (Pathways) Committee has modified details of the pathways plan along the east side of Concord Street from Church Street to Bingham Road. The effect is that several trees, previously considered for removal to accommodate the pathway, will remain. The board closed the public hearing on the topic since no further action was to be taken by the board or the Tree Warden.
• Carriage Way Subdivision. At the request of developer William Costello and with the concurrence of its consulting firm, Nitsch Engineering the board voted to certify that the subdivision is complete. Five thousand dollars will be retained in the board's 53G account for this project pending successful replanting of nine trees that did not survive last winter.
• Sorli Farm wireless facility. Having approved a special permit for construction and operation of an 80-foot monopole Omnipoint antenna at the Sorli Farm (1022 Westford Street) at its October 22 meeting, the board continued the public hearing to complete its findings and to issue conditions for the permit.
Chair pro-tem David Freedman said that a new condition would be added to the special permit in order to accommodate a Police Department request for a possible future public safety antenna at this site. Any such antenna would have to be installed within the monopole with no appendages on the monopole. Representing the applicant, attorney Brian Grossman said that Omnipoint would make available rent-free space provided that it did not interfere with Omnipoint's operation of the facility. Freedman stated that it was the board's intent to add a similar condition to subsequent personal wireless facility special permits.
The board voted to close the hearing.
• Sprint wireless facility approved for First Religious Society steeple. Operating with dispatch, Chair Michael Epstein opened the public hearing for the application for special permit and site plan approval for a personal wireless communication facility to be located in the steeple of the First Religious Society at 27 School Street. After review of a draft set of findings and conditions, the board voted unanimously to approve the permit and close the hearing. Two members of the board were designated to review the formal documents when completed.
• Hanover Hill Subdivision. After review of the traffic study submitted by the applicant, the board's consultant, Nitsch Engineering's traffic engineer Doug Prentiss agreed that the stopping-sight-distance afforded by the two proposed access roads to the subdivision "exceeded standards." (This distance is the length needed for a car traveling on the main road to stop after seeing another vehicle exiting from the subdivision.)
However, the consultant suggested that the board request a series of diagrams showing the intersection-sight-distance in order to provide more complete information. (This distance is the length of the main road visible to a vehicle that is exiting from the subdivision.The intersection-sight-distance usually exceeds the stopping-sight-distance. )
The stopping-sight-distance is more important from the standpoint of through traffic on Westford Street whereas the intersection-sight-distance is more important for traffic exiting the 35-lot subdivision. George Dimakarakos (Stamski & McNary) agreed that the developer would provide such information.
Handling another of the several topics before the board regarding the Subdivision Definitive Plan, Dimakarakos said that some of Nitsch Engineering recommendations on low-impact development and the handling of drainage could be impractical: "We still have to design to accommodate a 100-year flood." Board member Carol Nathan brought a chuckle from the audience when she observed that incidents of the 100-year flood seem to occur with surprising frequency. The board asked that Steven Ventresca (Nitsch Engineering), and Dimakarakos continue their discussion on drainage issues.
The hearing will be continued at 7:45 p.m. on January 14. Chair Epstein observed that now that the board has closed several hearings on wireless topics, there would be more time to devote to Hanover Hill.
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