Planning Board addresses concerns regarding proposed Lincoln Street/Cedar Street Extension development

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Lincoln Street development map 9-14-20
The proposed development includes extending Lincoln Street and building a new cul-de-sac off Cedar Street Extension.

The proposed Lincoln Street/Cedar Street Extension development was the primary focus of Monday’s Planning Board meeting, with the discussion centered on whether the area would be better served with two cul-de-sacs or a through road.

The Planning Board received communication from a number of abutters opposed to creating a new through road from Cedar Street Extension to Lincoln Street (which lets out onto Route 85 across from Carbone’s restaurant, near the Southborough line) out of fear that it would become a shortcut for residents looking to avoid the Cedar Street Extension/Route 85 intersection.

“I can understand these residents’ concern, because if there was a throughway that would become a huge shortcut for the Highland [Park] people, Wedgewood Drive people, coming through and trying to get through a shortcut area,” Planning Board member Jane Moran said. “That little road [Lincoln Street] cannot handle that traffic. … It’s going to destroy that neighborhood.”

The developers, Lincoln Street residents Courtney and Kyle Derderian, have suggested extending Lincoln Street about 500 feet, making the end into a cul-de-sac — currently it has a flat end, with no turnaround — and building four new homes there. They also proposed creating a new cul-de-sac about 750 feet long off Cedar Street Extension and constructing four homes there as well.

However, Lincoln Street already is about 1,700 feet long — well over the town’s limit of 1,000 feet for a dead-end road — and the proposal would make that road even longer. Generally speaking, the town prefers roads with more than one access point, primarily for safety reasons.

Joe Marquedant, the developers’ design consultant, said the proposal to extend Lincoln Street — which would require a special permit — falls under the category of “extraordinary circumstances.”

“We felt that the concerns of the neighborhood fall in that category,” Marquedant said. “As we pulled it together [we] said here is a thoughtful design that balances all those and we hope that you folks would see that as well.”

Courtney Derderian, who had numerous consultations with her neighbors before bringing her idea before the Planning Board, said safety is a primary concern. She noted that delivery trucks and other large vehicles are forced to back down Lincoln Street — a narrow road with no sidewalks — because there is nowhere to turn around. And school buses won’t enter the street, forcing children to walk to the intersection with Route 85 on a road with no sidewalks or street lights.

“When Joe said this was a well thought-out plan, this wasn’t just because we could put four lots on a road,” Derderian said. “This was to make our road safer and more updated and more reasonable. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to put something in place where a fire truck can come down the road, turn around safely and not have to back up down the road.”

The board tossed thoughts and ideas back and forth, with concerns raised about both options.

“It’s a dilemma,” member Dave Paul said. “I can see both sides of the story. The lack of cul-de-sacs is a benefit for the town, but it puts the burden on the neighbors. What should we as a Planning Board [prioritize]? Because we always have the neighbors present at one of these meetings, and we always have the developer present, but realistically we’re the only ones representing the town. So it’s a tough call.”

Planning Board member Rob Benson, who chaired the discussion, clarified that while a potential through road has been discussed, it has not been proposed by the applicant, and thus the board can’t officially consider it as an option. The board’s focus instead was supposed to be on whether a waiver to extend the dead-end road should be considered.

Responding to a suggestion that it might make more sense to have the proposed new road off Cedar Street Extension provide access to all eight house lots, Marquedant said it was not favored because it was tougher to access the desired land.

However, he acknowledged the need to revisit the proposal and see what changes might make it more palatable.

“I think we may be at the point where the design team needs to huddle with our co-applicants and kick around some of these ideas,” he said. “We’re at the point where maybe we should table this discussion temporarily, allow us to put pen to paper and see if we can’t come up with a scenario that we can bring back to the board.”

The hearing was continued to Nov. 2.

In other Planning Board news, the hearing on a storm water management permit and a petition to construct a paper street related to the proposed development on Leonard Street was pushed to Nov. 2 and the decision date to Nov. 16.

The board also discussed a proposal to build out Chester Street, which would be a new one-home road off Hillcrest Drive, near Lake Maspenock. A site walk was planned for Saturday, with the discussion to be continued at the Nov. 16 Planning Board meeting.

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