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Hopkinton Highlands III bond release request leaves Planning Board ‘in a weird position’

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The bond release request for the Hopkinton Highlands III condominium development for a nearly 20-year-old bond of $146,400 raised a “unique” issue for the Planning Board at its meeting Monday night, according to the chair.

Marcel Maillet appeared before the board requesting the bond release for Hopkinton Highlands III, a 24-unit condo complex off Overlook Drive. The project was started between 2004-05 but was not completed until 2011.

Despite the project’s completion, the as-built plan was not done until “a couple of years ago.” Maillet explained that the project’s surveyor “had some health issues” that eventually led to his death.

Maillet added that he was able to retrieve some information from the surveyor’s son to give to a second surveyor. Some repairs were made at the request of the condominium association and added to the plan.

While the drainage pipes are delineated on the plan, the drainage structures were not able to be marked, according to Maillet. He noted that the association’s board expressed no drainage issues regarding the property.

Said Maillet: “The only way you can locate it is to dig it up, which doesn’t make any sense.”

He said he would provide the construction and as-built plans if they are helpful.

Chair Gary Trendel explained that a builder puts forth a bond for a project so that, in the event that it is not completed, the town can “finish or resolve those issues.”

Principal Planner John Gelcich explained that this situation “leaves us in a weird position.” The project was peer reviewed by engineering firm BETA Group, but some details could not be verified. There are other repair needs that were pointed out in the report, including covered manhole covers.

“We can’t guarantee that things have been done,” he said. “We can’t guarantee that things will work as designed because we don’t know if they were installed as designed.”

Member Jane Moran questioned if the Department of Public Works had any record of water or road damage issues at the development since its construction. Resident Brian Moffett, who has lived at Hopkinton Highlands III since it was built, said he was unaware of any drainage problems at the development.

Trendel said evidence of the well improvements needed to be documented, as they are “a pretty substantial piece of this bond.”  He also said the DPW needs to be contacted regarding any issues it may have encountered at the property.

Maillet replied that the DPW may not be involved with the property since it is a private development.

Vice chair Rob Benson asked why this process wasn’t done about 15 years ago.

“I let it lapse, for sure,” said Maillet, noting that it was “only a surety bond.”

Trendel requested a statement from the homeowners association noting that the work that was meant to be covered in the bond has been completed.

Stormwater regulations proposed amendments reviewed

The board considered proposed amendments to the town’s stormwater regulations that will bring them into alignment with proposed changes to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection’s stormwater handbook.

Gelcich explained that the rainfall calculations were revised by the DPW and its consultant “to be more forward-thinking.” This likely would prevent the future construction of undersized infrastructure.

Additionally, some changes were proposed by some members of the Conservation Commission who specialize in stormwater management, he added.

Emily Scerbo, vice president of consulting firm Tighe & Bond, explained that while this process was happening, MassDEP released its proposed changes to its stormwater handbook for public comment. Some of the language was modified in Hopkinton’s draft to conform with the language used in the handbook draft regarding erosion control measures. One modification included changing the term “best management practices” to “stormwater control measures.”

Discussion focused on whether tree ordinance language should be included as part of the stormwater management regulations. Benson said this would amount to “kind of dictating landscape design.”

He also questioned how this would be enforced.

Scerbo said this language is now seen “more commonly in stormwater regulations” to prevent areas from being denuded by drought. Increasing development has put a greater demand for water usage.

Trendel noted that tree protection language “is likely to be controversial” for the town. While the Zoning Advisory Committee considered a tree protection bylaw in the past, there is no current movement on it.

While people generally may want to preserve trees for shade and erosion protection, development will want to remove some trees. A bylaw may help the Planning Board with encouraging better development design.

Trendel pointed to the Chamberlain-Whalen development as an example where the property was virtually clear-cut for the development. This has resulted in stormwater issues there, he said.

Most Planning Board members supported some tree protection language in the bylaw.

Gelcich noted that Hopkinton, along with other neighboring towns, is looking into a grant to create a regional stormwater management enforcement agent position. Part of the grant would be used to compile a database of stormwater management infrastructure.

Trendel noted that developers are required to complete stormwater management plans for their properties. But enforcement of the plans has become an issue in some instances.

Scerbo said a self-certification form could be used by homeowners associations to ensure that maintenance work has been completed and documented. This form would apply to new construction projects.

A revised version of the draft will be reviewed at the next meeting on April 22.

2 Comments

  1. Dan Murphy

    “Trendel requested a statement from the homeowners association noting that the work that was meant to be covered in the bond has been completed.”

    Huh? How could someone sign that statement without knowing if the work had been done?

    Reply
  2. Original resident of Maillet Woods

    I wonder if your quote is correct, as Brian was our trustee at the time a drainage issue was dealt with by elevating one unit’s driveway (to alleviate the constant flooding it was experiencing). A storm drain just near that unit had been in the original street plan, but it was removed in the final drawing with no mention why in the town meeting minutes at that time. That drain would have been a great help had it been left in the plans, but in the end our trustees came up with a great solution.

    Reply

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