The Conservation Commission at its meeting Tuesday night closed out an ongoing case on an application for two single-family homes at 188-190 Fruit Street that was later reduced to one home and eventually withdrawn completely because of challenging topography.
The original scope of this project was for single-family homes to be built at 188 and 190 Fruit Street. The Planning Board and the Conservation Commission each expressed concerns about the grading of the land, poor soil quality and the amount of land disturbance the development of two homes would cause.
In response, the developers came back with a proposal for one home on the 188 Fruit Street lot. At the Oct. 10 Conservation Commission meeting, board members said they would be more amenable to a proposal that would put the house on both lots and further away from wetlands.
The commission voted to issue orders of conditions as a denial under the local bylaw but approved it under the Wetlands Protection Act.
The applicant, Rebel Hill, LLC, requested a reconsideration under the local bylaw at the Oct. 10 meeting, noted Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli. The applicant on Oct. 16 requested to withdraw that request.
Also on Oct. 16, the applicant contacted the Planning Board to withdraw its request for stormwater management and earth removal permits for its revised plans for 188 Fruit Street. The request was approved 5-0. Because the application was withdrawn without prejudice from the Planning Board, the same application can be resubmitted there within two years.
Ciaramicoli said that the application cannot be withdrawn from the Conservation Commission in this manner.
Said Ciaramicoli: “It is my understanding that the commission cannot grant a withdrawal specifically without prejudice because the commission voted to issue a denial already on Sept. 15, 2023.”
She recommended “to close this loop” that the commission accept the request for the withdrawal of the request for reconsideration, and that the commission finalize the denial order of conditions under the bylaw.
“I cannot think of a more confusing situation,” said Ciaramicoli.
Member Janine LeBlanc asked if the withdrawal pertained only to the 188-190 Fruit Street application or the revised version for one home at 188 Fruit Street. Ciaramicoli replied that it applied to both.
The language Ciaramicoli proposed was reiterated by chair Jeff Barnes. LeBlanc made the motion, which was seconded by member Ed Harrow. It was approved 6-0-1. New member Matthew Moyen abstained because he was not a member during the entire history of the case.
Notice of intent approved for last home in subdivision off Blueberry Lane
Ted Merchant represented the applicant, Toll Brothers, for the Elmwood Farms III subdivision off Blueberry Lane, which was modified. Matt Ashley represented Bohler Engineering and presented the reconfigured plan to the commission for a single-family home at 11 Fitch Avenue.
The original Blueberry Lane subdivision was constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Toll Brothers purchased the remaining lots, which are surrounded by proposed roads Fitch Avenue and Myrtle Avenue and the formerly proposed Adams Street. The plan was endorsed earlier this month by the Planning Board to combine Adams Street with the surrounding lots “so that it’s no longer a paper road.”
At the commission’s request, the proposed home was moved back to the setback line and further away from the buffer zone. This reduced the buffer zone disturbance zone from 1,800 to 900 feet.
Member Ted Barker-Hook “wanted to triple confirm” with Ashley that this is the smallest house in the subdivision and that, other than moving the home over, the plan remained the same. Ashley agreed.
The commission approved the notice of intent unanimously.
“I want to thank you and Toll Brothers on behalf of the commission and the town for … stepping up and improving the stormwater upgrades at the property and for minimizing buffer zone impacts for the additional lots,” Barnes said.
Hopkinton Square violation discussed
Barnes explained the nature of the violation at 22 South Street and 167 West Main Street at the Hopkinton Square shopping plaza, noting that landscapers “got a little ambitious with landscaping they did in the buffer zone.” He also mentioned the litter there.
On Oct. 18, Ciaramicoli said a Conservation Commission member “reported observations of mowing” within the buffer zone restoration area. The next day, Ciaramicoli visited the site and noted “substantial removal” of much of the herbaceous and shrub area, although there was some “purposeful leaving” of some shrubs. She contacted landowner Chuck Joseph to discuss the issue, and he told her that most of what was removed was sumac.
Ciaramicoli noted that there is language in the order of conditions that allows for maintenance in the buffer zone area, specifically for vines, the cutting of dead and dying trees, tree thinning and invasive species management. But she stressed that this type of clearing also took place in 2022, and a letter was issued at that time.
Since some permanent immovable barriers were installed since Ciaramicoli’s visit, Barnes said that a violation would not be issued but that the commission will monitor the situation. A memo will be issued to the landowner.