The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 30, 2010

Planning Board weighs in on Benfield Farms housing plan

All seven members of the Carlisle Planning Board huddled around the head table in the Clark Room for a special meeting on April 26 to review an application for a comprehensive permit for Benfield Farms on South Street. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is required to complete deliberations on a 40B comprehensive permit application within 180 days and fewer than 20 working days remain before the May 24 deadline. The ZBA has asked the Planning Board to review the application and board members plan to finalize all of their feedback during their regularly scheduled meeting on May 3. The ZBA will meet on May 5 for a final review, at which time all boards must have submitted their final written responses to the comprehensive permit application.

The goal of this Planning Board special meeting was to bring all the board members up to speed on various aspects of the development and to discuss any concerns prior to their written response. Developer NOAH (Neighborhood of Affordable Housing) submitted the final plan for Benfield Farms at the March 10 ZBA meeting. The proposed project consists of 26 units of senior housing on South Street in a three story building containing 17 one-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units.

Independent engineering review

Nitsch Engineering was chosen to provide a peer review of NOAH’s comprehensive permit application and Planning Board Chair David Freedman chose the Nitsch peer review memo dated April 7 as the starting point of the evening’s discussion. The peer review contains 75 comments on everything from layout and site features to landscaping and stormwater management. Freedman patiently stepped through each item to ensure that all issues were understood and evaluated.

One Nitsch comment recommends that the applicant submit Homeowner Association documents to the ZBA detailing responsibilities for maintenance of the stormwater, public water and septic systems. This prompted audience member Alan Lehotsky, chair of the Housing Authority, to exclaim, “There are no homeowners. The land is owned by the Housing Authority, the building will be owned under a leasing arrangement by NOAH and all 26 units are rented.” Lehotsky sees a need for such documents, “but they would not be homeowners,” and Freedman agreed.

Restrictions govern locating well on conservation land

The well location continues to be a cause for concern (see article and map below). An easement will be needed over parcels 1, 2 and 3 to get to the well on parcel 4. “The location of the well was positioned solely for the reason of finding a location where both the zone 1 [189 foot radius] and the larger IWPA [Interim Wellhead Protection Area with 487 foot radius] are all within the property,” explained Freedman. “The CR [conservation restriction] states that the location of the well is such that it minimizes the impact on users of the property.” He plans to draw the two circles on various map locations to see if the IWPA is on wetland, which is the preferred location that does not restrict upland use.

The uncertain pump house location prompted questions about its function. “The pump house does a couple of things,” explained Freedman. “It provides pressure for the sprinkler system and there’s also a drinking water tank.” Lehotsky explained that there are three tanks on the property – two are for fire protection and a third is for drinking water. The Fire Department cannot use the drinking water for fire control.

Planning Administrator George Mansfield expressed some strong feelings about the architecture which he described in a memo to the board. Regarding the driveway, Mansfield proposed that one of the two entrances be one-way. This could reduce the size of the pavement required, but members felt that all entrances would still have to be 24 feet wide for fire apparatus and so no saving would be realized. Other suggestions in Mansfield’s memo will be considered by the board during final review.

Freedman asked that board members send him any last minute comments before Friday. He will then draft the Planning Board’s comprehensive permit application response for final review at their next regular meeting on Monday, May 3, in time for the ZBA’s May 5 meeting. (See related articles below.)

Housing Authority looks to new Benfield easements

Zoning Board of Appeals continues Benfield Farms review

Well, wetlands dominate ConsCom’s Benfield Farms discussion

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