The Open Space Preservation Commission at its meeting Thursday night unanimously approved a resident’s request to build boardwalks on open space property that abuts his home.
David Freed, who lives on Winter Street, came before the commission proposing to build boardwalks on an existing access trail that connects Cameron Woods to several yards, ending at his backyard. With his permission, neighbors cross through his property to access the trail, which goes to the Sylvan Way property. He offered to construct them at his own expense with the help of volunteers to improve accessibility.
Freed described the terrain as “wet, muddy and rooty” due to soil erosion over the past decade. The roots and invasives make it difficult to walk and bike on the trail, Freed explained. A small intermittent stream flows there in the spring.
“I really appreciate what you’re doing, especially to preserve the integrity of the open space,” said member Jane Moran, the Planning Board’s representative.
She noted that other people have done similar projects without informing the OSPC, and she commended Freed for his respectful approach.
Chair Ed Harrow, who also serves on the Conservation Commission, told Freed he would need to appear before the Conservation Commission to get its permission because of the intermittent stream. He offered to connect Freed with Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli.
Moran also suggested that Freed present his proposal to the Trails Committee as well for “a heads-up.”
Member Steve Levandosky said Freed also had discussed granting an easement on his property. While Freed didn’t want to include this in his deed, he discussed formalizing the agreement in a letter.
Land swap approved for subdivision off Whisper Way
The development team for a 12-unit subdivision off Whisper Way discussed swapping a portion of land for open space that would be “more desirable” for the town’s trail access goals. This move had been approved by the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission.
Land surrounding Whisper Way previously was supposed to be conveyed to the town as part of an open space and landscape preservation development (OSLPD) special permit. But Planning Board meeting documents show that four lots had building permits issued for the construction of the homes in that subdivision prior to the conveyance of the open space or the placing of a conservation restriction on the land, contrary to the requirements of the OSLPD bylaw. Also, two of the three units constructed were issued certificates of occupancy and were sold before the land donation was discussed with the OSPC.
Craig Nation from the development team explained adjustments to the corridor layout on the plans. A corner of one lot was pulled back from the wetland. Parcel A1, which is half an acre, was added to the land near the Valleywood Road neighborhood to connect it to Cameron Woods and existing trails along town-owned property.
The development team noted at a September Planning Board meeting that abutting land was acquired after the development was approved.
A new 20-foot-wide easement will allow connection to a second easement to allow the Valleywood Road trail connection, Nation said. He stressed that Parcel A1 was swapped with a parcel closer to the Valleywood Road neighborhood that “was more valuable to you.”
The commission unanimously endorsed the proposal.
Boundary markers to be removed at 2 Whisper Way
Shawn Masterson of 2 Whisper Way asked that the commission remove the open space stakes where land under a conservation restriction abuts his property. He asserted that he is the only one who would see them and that they would decrease his property value. He also he has told landscapers not to perform work and noted that there are boulders at the property line.
Moran explained that the OSPC has become more diligent about ensuring that property owners don’t encroach onto open space. This issue was discussed at the OSPC’s August meeting, as well as the need for clear delineation between properties.
Harrow noted that this land should have been approved by the OSPC and then conveyed to the town before the home was built. He also talked about an experience of “major creep” when a gazebo was built on open space, which is one instance that prompted the OSPC to exercise caution.