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Planning Board approves bond release for Chamberlain-Whalen subdivision project

by | Jan 4, 2022 | Business, News

The Planning Board at its meeting Monday night approved the bond release for the Chamberlain-Whalen subdivision project after amending the amount due to a discussion about the number of street trees on the site.

Vice Chair Mary Larson-Marlowe chaired this portion of the meeting, as Chair Gary Trendel lives near the project. Kathi Sherry spoke on behalf of the applicant, REC Hopkinton, noting that most of the work has been completed on the infrastructure and roadway in preparation to it being sold to home builder Toll Brothers. Remaining work items include the installation of the top course on the sidewalk and the roadway, as well as the planting of trees. The overlay on the Chamberlain Street widening will need to be completed after Verizon moves the telephone poles.

Luckner Bayas, president of civil engineering firm Bay Associates, told the board he adjusted some of the numbers previously submitted to the Planning Board to account “for items not included in the developer’s estimate,” including an increase in the amount of money for the cleaning of drains and the pond. The main item that increased, which caused some discussion, was the allocation for the number of trees to be planted.

Bayas said that the state standard calls for the trees on both sides of the street to be placed 40 feet apart. The original estimate called for trees on one side of the road, he explained, causing “a big difference in value.”

The original estimate was for $36,400, while Bayas’s proposed change came to $72,800.

Sherry clarified that the original approved landscape plan had 143 street trees between Whalen Road and Chamberlain Street, with 91 on Chamberlain and the remainder on Whalen.

“I did not go by the landscape plan,” Bayas said. “I went by the subdivision rules and regulations indicated, which indicate that trees must be planted 40 feet apart on both sides of the road.”

Town Principal Planner John Gelcich explained that the plantings must be done in accordance with the approved plan.

“We’re not redesigning the subdivision plan to conform to the subdivision standards because it was approved otherwise,” he said.

When Member Jane Moran asked questions about the number of trees, Gelcich explained that the plan already was approved by the Planning Board and “could not be re-litigated.” Only the bond approval was to be voted upon.

The proposed trails and boardwalks on the site will be completed by the end of the day on Tuesday, according to developer Paul Mastroianni.

Trendel, speaking as a resident and not as a member of the board, asked if the street coating was only for the additional work and not for the entire street, which stirred some debate among attendees. A condition said that there would be a one-inch overlay of the roadway, so Trendel asked for an interpretation if it was only for the shoulder or the entire road.

While Gelcich said it would only apply to the portion being widened, Bayas thought the coating would apply to the entire roadway. Gelcich said that if the entire roadway were to be paved, it would have to involve the Department of Public Works. Members Dave Paul and Fran DeYoung, who were on the board at the time of the original decision, said that it was their understanding that only the widened portion of the road would be coated.

Said Larson-Marlowe: “I think this is just a lesson in wording of conditions to make sure that there’s no ambiguity.”

The bond was approved for $425,592 in an 8-0 vote.

At the next meeting on Jan. 31, there will be a vote on the 27 lots being released to Toll Brothers

Traffic calming measures for Chamberlain-Whalen provoke debate

Another topic addressed in relation to the project was the $10,000 bond allocated for traffic calming measures on Chamberlain Street.

“We cannot and do not expect this funding to solve all previous and new traffic issues on Chamberlain Street,” Larson-Marlowe stressed. She recommended that the money be distributed to the DPW with the stipulation that it go toward work where the Center Street Trail meets Chamberlain Street, as the department sees fit.

One recommendation was for a speed table, which is like a speed bump but with a longer, flatter hump in the middle.

Moran asked how the town could “up the ante” for traffic calming, such as creating a center line or side fog lines.

“The new development has highlighted the issue,” Larson-Marlowe explained, noting it is not under the purview of the Planning Board. “It has not caused the traffic problem.”

Moran noted that the DPW previously cut the budget for fog lines and center lines for side roads, so she did not know how to pursue this issue. She said she would like to see some of the allocation going toward the center and fog lines.

Larson-Marlowe noted that one speed table costs $10,000. Anything else proposed would have to involve “a separate step.” She added that in a previous discussion with residents, signs were discussed. However, DPW and safety officials have said that speed tables are the most effective way to calm traffic.

Paul made a motion that the money be allocated for a speed table specifically for that intersection, which was seconded. However, discussion ensued, and the motion was amended.

Moran protested the use of the speed table or speed bumps because, in her experience, they do not curtail speeding but cause noise as trucks drive over them. She preferred “noninvasive measures” such as signs.

Larson Marlowe and member Sundar Sivaraman said the motion should be worded in a way to “leave the decision to the experts” at the DPW.

Member Rob Benson pointed out that the discussion began when board members said they did not want to tell other people what to do, yet the board is recommending the placement of the measure of the Center Trial intersection with Chamberlain Street.

“I am totally supportive of releasing the finds for the DPW to do what they think is best,” he said, later being the sole negative vote once the motion language was agreed upon. “But for us to condition it, I am not in support of.”

He also noted that it is a truncation of the trail at that point, not an intersection.

The measure, approved 7-1 with Trendel recusing himself, eventually specified that location but did not specify the measure to be used to calm traffic.

Tennis and Swim Club gets extension

Gelcich said that the Hopkinton Tennis and Swim Club, which plans to construct a facility on Lumber Street, requested the extension of a site plan approval previously approved for work to begin in March 2020, which was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The permit is set to expire in March, so the extension was granted in a 9-0 vote because work could not be started due to the pandemic.

Zoning articles unanimously approved for ATM warrant

The board unanimously approved five proposed articles to be added to the warrant for the May 2 Annual Town Meeting. Trendel added that the recommendations proposed by the Zoning Advisory Committee would be voted on basically as placeholders on the warrant, and that public hearings would be held to explain them and receive feedback.

The first is a dimensional table to make zoning information easier to reference. The second article contains grammatical corrections, changing all the uses to singular. The third article indicates that there should be one principal use per dwelling rather than per lot for single-family homes. It also defines what a principal use is.

The fourth creates a parking ratio for laboratory research facilities. Research and development parking restrictions were separated from general office requirements because they were believed to require fewer spaces. Spaces for warehouse use were changed from one space per 1,000 feet of gross floor area to one space per 2,000 feet of gross floor area.

The fifth article proposes to use gender-neutral terms, such as by changing chairman to chair.


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