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Long road ahead for Elmwood Farms development

by | Jan 23, 2019 | Business, News

Planning Board advises more updates to 30-year-old plan

Representatives for the Elmwood Farms III development, a subdivision off Blueberry Lane that was approved 30 years ago, paid a visit to the Planning Board on Jan. 14 and left with some work to do.

The project already got a thumbs-down from the Department of Public Works last year for sewer due to wetlands in the area. The developer filed a lawsuit against the town but has since been working to find common ground.

The problem is the ground remains wet, and the Planning Board advised the representatives that they should not expect a waiver for that issue nor one for a dead-end street.

“If these houses were built 30 years ago there would be so many problems with wet basements,” Planning Board member Frank D’Urso said. “That’s why these laws are important. I would suggest the Myrtle Street being a dead end won’t fly, and I would suggest coming back with something that does fit our regulations without having to ask for anything to be changed. Work with what you have, and it’s not going to be what you had in 1990 — what you have in 2019, and then you come back to us.”

Planning Board chair Muriel Kramer offered a similar opinion.

“Just from my perspective, I would not be in favor of waiving the new stormwater [regulations],” Kramer said. “I think that any new project — particularly a project that was designed 30 years ago, long before today’s stormwater regs were envisioned — needs to be brought up to standards.”

Attorney Alan Greenwald, a trustee of Abbot Realty Trust, and engineer Rob Truax of GLM Engineering Consultants spoke on behalf of the project. Greenwald said already one-third of the lots previously approved for development have been scrapped.

“At some point the wetland regulations changed and as a result of the new definitions of wetlands some of our land which was not previously wetlands became wetlands, and as a result we lost eight of the 24 lots,” Greenwald explained.

Blueberry Road residents in attendance at the meeting said most of the homes on the street have water issues.

“We have some concerns because most of our yards are very wet on Blueberry, and pooling is significant, some much more than others. Our backyards are all wet,” resident Sue Wheeler said. “In terms of wetlands it is muddy even in the summertime in the back of the yards, a lot of them.”

In other Planning Board business, members approved stormwater and earth removal permits for 52 to 55 Wilson St., the Tennessee Gas Company property. Members expressed concerns about large truck traffic and limited the hours of operation during school commuting hours. Trucks will travel from Interstate 495 to Route 135 then down Cedar Street to Legacy Farms North to the site on Wilson Street. The hours of operation for the project will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Members also discussed possible Town Meeting articles including removing a 100-seat restaurant restriction for businesses in the industrial “B” zone, better regulation of temporary banners across roadways, and improving the definition of solar voltaic screening measures.

The board also continued a hearing for the Maspenock Woods development until Feb. 25.

— ED THOMPSON

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