Friday, February 26, 2010
Clock ticking on Benfield 40B
Roughly half the six-month period allowed for consideration of the Benfield Farms 40B special permit for the town’s 26-unit senior affordable housing development has passed and to date, the applicant, NOAH, has not yet submitted a final plan to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for review.
NOAH is the firm chosen by the Carlisle Housing Authority to build and manage the affordable rental housing on the town-owned Benfield Land on South Street. While the project is town-sponsored, it must still go through the 40B permitting process for affordable housing projects, as well as conform to wetlands (see article at right) and Board of Health (BOH) regulations.
At the ZBA meeting on February 9, Toby Kramer of Riverside Consulting, on behalf of the applicant, said that she wanted to make it clear that NOAH had originally submitted a plan to the ZBA, but because it was not “technically correct,” they will be submitting a final plan, likely by the next ZBA meeting on March 9. Meanwhile, Kramer and her constituents are slated to meet with the Fire Department and the Conservation Commission as well as with members of the Planning Board on February 12 in order to discuss the plans for the driveway width, the salamander and wetland areas and to understand the various interests. These discussions, according to Kramer, will ultimately lead NOAH in finalizing their development plan for submission to the ZBA.
Mark Beaudry of Meridian Associates presented an updated status of the development activities. After meeting with the Conservation Commission, they now have a valid wetland line within which to work. They do not yet, however, have a delineation for the riverfront as it leads out to Spencer Brook, though they have made an approximation. Beaudry also presented an updated plan, which “functionally remains the same.” It showed the building in the exact same location as in the original proposed plan, but also showed an increase in the size of the water cistern from 40,000 to 80,000 gallons and a reduction in the number of parking spaces by three, to 38 spaces.
Abutter Ray Kubacki questioned the location of the parking lot, saying he thought it was supposed to be in the back of the main building. Kramer explained that they did have parking there before, but because they had to limit the amount of disturbance into the wooded area, they had to reduce the parking. Beaudry added that in order for the plan to be approved by the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, they had to minimize the disturbance to 15,000 square feet, which they have been able to accomplish.
On matters relating to accounting, the board made and granted a motion to request $10,000 from NOAH for deposit into the Benfield Farm “53G” account through which project expenses will be paid.
The ZBA is required by new state regulations to complete deliberations within 180 days. Housing Authority member Susan Stamps said that the Housing Authority does not approve of NOAH filing an extension. She did not understand why the process to create the final plan is taking so long and also did not understand why it took so long to secure a peer reviewing firm. Toby Kramer said, “We’ve run into problems. Now we are moving forward.” ZBA chairman Ed Rolfe offered to work with Kramer outside the formal ZBA meetings to come up with the list of waivers. He also said that given the meetings scheduled between NOAH and the various town boards, the ZBA would be pushing the next hearing date out four weeks. The ZBA made and granted a motion to continue the hearing until March 10 and tentatively scheduled a project site walk for March 12 (8 a.m., 273 South Street), which will be open to the public to attend.
New associate ZBA member
Lisa Davis Lewis of Autumn Lane expressed interest in joining the Zoning Board of Appeals as an associate member. She has a planning consulting practice and served on the Board of Health for five years in the past. The ZBA later recommended her name to the Board of Selectmen, who on February 23 appointed her to a three-year term as an associate ZBA member (see related article in “Selectmen Shorts,” page 7.)∆
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