Leonard Street development plan to be resubmitted after snag with Planning Board

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Wall Street Development Corporation will have to wait until the fall to get approval for a construction project on Leonard Street that was first proposed nearly three years ago.

After finally receiving approval for his project from the Conservation Commission two weeks ago, Lou Petrozzi, president of Wall Street Development, appeared before the Planning Board on Monday night seeking an Approval Not Required (ANR) for the project. An ANR is the division of land into lots with frontage on existing roads, whether public or private, or simply reconfiguring lot lines. The Planning Board endorses ANRs certifying that approval under the town’s subdivision regulations is not required.

The project originally was proposed as a subdivision of five houses and the construction of a paper street. But due to conservation issues the plan has undergone several changes, and now it consists of three lots/houses, all with access from the existing roadway of Leonard Street.

Petrozzi noted that there has been ongoing litigation due to drainage discharging onto the property for many years that created a wetland, as well as a great deal of storm water problems to adjacent properties.

“Under this proposal we are doing extensive mitigation to create a better solution by holding the water back and discharging it through a swale drainage,” Petrozzi said. “It is going to help significantly.”

Petrozzi noted that one condition from the Conservation Commission is likely to result in the granting of an easement to the town for drainage purposes. Wall Street also will create a homeowners association responsible for maintaining drainage structures on the property.

Leonard Street is a combination of public and private way. Town planner John Gelcich said in order for the ANR to be granted, the lots have to be on a public way, or a private way that is maintained and used as a public way. Petrozzi said he also would be seeking approval for paving 250 feet on Leonard Street — that section, which will be used to access the new homes’ driveways, now consists of gravel — to bring it up to town regulations for subdivisions. He explained that under state statute, property owners own to the middle of a private way, and anyone who abuts a private way has the right to improve that way to the benefit of those who live there.

“We are pretty within our rights to do what we are proposing to do,” he said.

Michael Hildreth, of 19 Leonard St., disagreed. He said the private way being discussed is actually his driveway.

“I’m not sure how people can make improvements on lands I own,” he said. “It seems unfair to me that someone can come in and claim it’s an access point.”

Gelcich said that while Hildreth may own the land, the street was laid out so that the way can be used to access other properties, giving those landowners right to access the way.

Petrozzi said he has already secured easements from abutters to install water and sewer.
The board contemplated granting the ANR but struggled, pointing to an opinion from town counsel that the proposal likely does not meet ANR conditions.

“While town counsel may have their opinion, they do leave it up to the Planning Board to make that determination based on conditions on the ground,” Petrozzi said. “Town counsel hasn’t visited the property. We’ve been through a long process here … and we think we’ve come up with a solution that is beneficial to the neighbors, the town and Wall Street.”

Several Planning Board members agreed the current proposed plan was better than the original plan, but they still were uncomfortable approving the ANR due to the current gravel condition of the road.

“Because we can’t condition an ANR, we don’t have a lot of control to influence what happens here,” Planning Board chair Gary Trendel said. “I’m really uncomfortable moving forward with this without means to enforcement.”

Petrozzi offered several solutions, including entering into a covenant with the Planning Board associated with the ANR endorsement in which there would be a bond, similar to a subdivision, to make improvements to the roadway, and once those improvements are completed his company would be able to build on the lots.

“So that serves both sides,” he said.

Gelcich said it would be a concern to have an ANR approval in conjunction with a proposal to construct a way.

Petrozzi also offered to extend the 21-day window in which the Planning Board has to vote on the ANR, but Gelcich said under the law there could be no extension.

Ultimately, Petrozzi chose to withdraw the ANR and submit a revised plan and application. The hearing and discussion for that plan is to take place at the Planning Board’s Sept. 28 meeting.