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Planning Board reviews Whisper Way plan amendments

by | Jan 25, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Planning Board at its meeting Monday night held a new hearing regarding the open space and landscape preservation development (OSLPD) at Whisper Way.

Last summer, a procedural error hampered the transfer of open space to the town at the site of the 12-unit subdivision off Wood Street, on the west side of Interstate 495. Previous Planning Board meeting documents showed 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 have been issued certificates of occupancy and were sold.

During this new hearing, attorney Mark Kablack represented the developer, Ravenwood LLC. He requested to modify the open space parcel being donated to the town to accommodate the preference of the Open Space Preservation Commission (OSPC), which made the proposal inconsistent with plans previously approved by the Planning Board. The developer and the OSPC agreed on the acceptance of a piece of land that would be more beneficial to the town in regard to potential trail connectivity. Abutting land had been acquired by the developer after the Planning Board’s original approval that made this transaction more attractive to both the OSPC and the developer.

The applicant also requested a waiver to the subdivision regulations, requesting the use of Cape Cod berms on Whisper Way rather than granite curbing.

“This is a technical amendment to the special permit and definitive plan approvals that this board approved in late summer,” Kablack explained, “the decisions for which were issued in October and recorded.

“The amendments reflect the fact that through the process of working with the Open Space [Preservation Commission], the Open Space [Preservation Commission] had certain recommendations for minor adjustments to the open space which were inconsistent with the plans referenced in the two decisions.”

Kablack explained that the open space within the development itself has not changed from the originally approved plans.

There was a small parcel within the development that was discussed for donation, but the OSPC preferred that the open space donation be from the adjoining land. This would allow for trail connection to the Valleywood Road neighborhood. The plans were redrawn to reflect the new configuration, which Kablack referred to as “the Valleywood open space.”

Developer Craig Nation noted that “it is an even land swap.”

“We wanted the trail to be contiguous all the way out to Valleywood,” noted Jane Moran, who serves on both the Planning Board and the OSPC.

Kablack then mentioned the request to have Cape Cod berms rather than granite curbing, as well as waiving the application fees for this latest application.

Principal Planner John Gelcich explained that the open space concept plan needs to be updated, as well as the definitive stamped plans showing the open space.

Planning Board chair Gary Trendel said he would be willing to consider a conditional approval pending the submission of these plans so that the process would not be delayed.

“To me it seems relatively straightforward,” he said. “I’d actually argue that it’s an improvement against the OSLPD.”

The curbing became an issue at that point. Nation noted that the Cape Cod berm could be preferred by the residents living there.

“We just see a lot of damage from granite curbs,” he added, noting that it is “a personal preference.” The narrowness of the road was another factor he mentioned.

Trendel explained that he has a “slight preference” for granite because of the “nice, tight look” for the radius corners. Granite curbing at the radius corners is part of the board’s design standards.

Moran noted that Cape Cod berms were used at Connelly Farms, another Ravenwood development, because they “are much more forgiving.”

The board voted against the curbing waiver 3-5. It voted unanimously to waive the administrative application fees. In the findings it was noted that the subdivision will conform to subdivision regulations and previously issued decisions, and that the Cape Cod berm was not approved.

The revised definitive plan showing the Valleywood open space corridor donation and the special permit concept plan need to be submitted before any new building permits can be issued.

The board voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the special permit with the conditions noted above as well as the findings.

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