The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 2010

Footprint shrinks for Benfield 40B

After refinement of the space calculations for the proposed Benfield Farms affordable housing, the structure’s overall size has been decreased 11% and all impervious surfaces on the site have been decreased by 32%. Representatives for the developer, NOAH, presented the final plans to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on March 10.

The new building size reflects the use of measurements rather than estimates as the design process progressed. Housing Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett later explained, “The convergence of the engineer’s calculations with the architect’s interior design resulted in smaller exterior dimensions, but somewhat larger housing units and some additional storage space.” She noted new features were added to the living area, “A screened porch on the third floor is new. Another addition to the plan will be community restrooms on each floor.”

The final plans submitted to the ZBA include the residential building, as well as the driveway, parking, drainage system, septic system, a small pump shed and landscaping. Several changes were made at the request of the Carlisle Fire Department and the Planning Board, such as: adding back three previously removed hard parking spaces; moving the majority of parking further away from the building; adding a moveable car gate to the base of the trail into the woods; adding a cistern turnout next to the pump house to allow the Fire Department trucks better access; setting aside two cisterns with a total of 80,000 gallons of water for firefighting use; narrowing the driveway slightly between the building and the street, as approved by the Fire Department; as well as adding a natural gas-powered generator. The size of the roadway loop was also decreased to protect Blue Spotted Salamander habitat, per advisement by the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

The final plans address other community concerns as well, such as moving the buildings another five feet back from the South Street side of the property. In addition, six parking spaces have been set aside for trail use, an area has been designated for snow storage and poured-concrete curbs are included instead of the standard granite curbs to avoid erosion separation.

New placements are shown for storm water basins, brush clearing and tree planting along the South Street frontage area, as well as a tree cluster planting in other areas of the property to screen the views of abutters. The building itself will be entirely compliant with the Americans with Disability Act in regards to parking, building access, elevators, bathrooms and wheelchair-turning-radii in all units.

Environmental concerns will be addressed by plantings that will not require irrigation; an efficient baseboard central heating system; all runoff passing through gravel or basins before entering a wetland; the septic system being located in the back, away from the vernal pool; and the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof of the main building to be used to offset the facility’s energy needs.

Site walk showed location, dimensions of structure

On March 12 a site visit was held at Benfield Farms to allow abutters and other members of the community to get a more concrete picture of the project and to talk directly with NOAH’s representatives. The final height of the buildings’ gables were marked with large helium balloons, and the locations of all planned structures were marked with colored stakes.

Mark Beaudry of Meridian Associates walked the group through the site, describing the layout of various items on the plan and answering questions raised by the attendees. One abutter was concerned that the driveway would take up half of the frontage of the site, but Beaudry showed that the paved area would only be 60 feet of the 525-foot area or only 11%. He indicated that the historic stone wall would be cleaned and preserved when the brush in the frontage was cleared, and that a few older trees would need to be removed. One of the attendees indicated that NOAH would have to schedule a hearing with the tree warden to do such a removal.

Abutters raised several concerns at the site visit: whether the building would be visible from South Street, if exiting cars’ headlights would shine into people’s houses at night, the distance of the construction from wetlands and the design aesthetics of the building.

Beaudry reiterated that the Conservation Commission and National Heritage had approved the final plan of the building and its effect on any surrounding wetland and vernal pool areas. To this end, the plan calls for the trail between the front and back portions of the property to remain its current width and unpaved, and for the well to be located as close as possible to the river that runs through the back of the property. The septic system is to be located in the conservation land behind the housing. The septic system area will be returned to its original grade once the system is installed, and the land above it may be used to cultivate hay as it has been in the past.

The next meeting of the ZBA will be held in late March or early April to discuss the peer review of the final plans. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito