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Open Space Preservation Commission seeks updated documents for development off Whisper Way

by | Dec 8, 2023 | News

At Thursday’s Open Space Preservation Commission meeting, Land Use Department administrative assistant Shannon Isaacs told the commission that she was asked by Principal Planner John Gelcich to obtain an updated map and plan for the 12-unit subdivision off Whisper Way that the OSPC reviewed at its November meeting. The maps presented to the OSPC and the Planning Board were different, she explained. The new documents should reflect changes discussed at the November OSPC meeting so that the Planning Board and the OSPC will be on the same page moving forward.

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.

At the November meeting, the development team noted that there had been an adjustment to the plans to incorporate the acquisition of abutting land. Parcel A1 was swapped with a parcel closer to the Valleywood Road neighborhood that would allow for a trail connection to Cameron Woods.

Isaacs added that a letter will be addressed to the Planning Board explaining that the OSPC does not want to take Parcel A1 and has approved the land swap.

OSPC member Jane Moran said the Planning Board originally asked the developer to appear before the OSPC before seeking Planning Board approval for the town’s acquisition of parcels for open space. There was some confusion by the development team about which entity to approach first for open space conveyance approval.

Commission works on website plan

The OSPC discussed developing a commission website with a fellow community advocate. Linda Chuss, a member of the Sustainable Green Committee and the Trails Committee, provided two options for website creation that she will assist the OSPC in developing at its request. She is beginning to develop the Trails Committee’s website now.

She explained that the Sustainable Green Committee has a separate website from the town, which she maintains. On the town’s website, there is some introductory information and a link to the more detailed information. The Trails Committee is pursuing the same option under her guidance. The OSPC can proceed with a similar plan or solely have its information on the town website.

“It’s been a challenge for the Trails [Committee] to get what we want done in the confines of the town website structure,” she explained, noting that the vendor she is working with, Lewis Studios, also created the website for the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT).

Once she gets the Trails Committee website started, Chuss said she would volunteer to work on the OSPC’s website development. This company specializes in developing websites for conservation, open space and trails groups. She requested that an OSPC liaison work with her to provide information, and member Steve Levandosky offered to help.

Once initiated, Chuss expected the OSPC website to be completed in about six months.

Lewis Studios’ website development fee is $3,000, and its annual website maintenance fee is $1,000, Chuss added. OSPC members would update content on their own. The OSPC previously budgeted up to $6,000 for website development.

Moran, the Planning Board liaison, asked if Chuss planned to charge a consulting fee. Chuss stressed that she is doing this work as a volunteer. She will only consider charging a fee if the does not receive help in obtaining and organizing files from the OSPC.

She noted that some content, including maps, can be shared among the three mentioned entities.

OSPC member David Goldman said much of the HALT’s website initial content was authored by him before he left the group.

Trail signs at Chamberlain-Whalen development discussed

Trails Committee and HALT member Chuck Dauchy told the commission that trails are in the process of being developed at the Chamberlain-Whalen development. A condition was made in the development’s original proposal that new trails be made to replace those that were removed by the project. Dauchy requested that signage be placed at entrances to the new trails once they are completed.

OSPC celebrates founding member’s birthday

The OSPC recognized founding member Nancy Peters the day before her birthday. She has been a member since the beginning of the commission, the first entity of its kind in the state.