Planning Board roundup: Development off Blueberry Lane moves forward

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The Planning Board met Monday night to review a number of projects, including the long-dormant but recently revived proposed subdivision that would be situated between Blueberry Lane and Marathon School/EMC Park.

Robert Truax of GLM Engineering Consultants spoke on behalf of the applicant, Alan Greenwald of Abbott Realty Trust, on the ANR (approval not required) request for the development of the five lots on Fitch Avenue, a proposed road off Blueberry Lane. He explained that the subdivision was approved about 30 years ago on a private way.

“There’s been litigation that went on between Mr. Greenwald and the owners with the Town of Hopkinton,” he said. “As part of the settlement agreement, my understanding is we’re going to create a Lot E that abuts the Town of Hopkinton property.”

The triangular-shaped lot would be conveyed to the town, and a 20-foot access road would be installed to Fitch Avenue as a walking path. The lot abuts the Marathon School property as well as EMC Park, which includes baseball fields. The developed lots were redesigned to accommodate this change.

Truax said that the anticipated construction date of the road is “as early as the next couple of months.” He added that because of wetlands issues, Adams Street will not be built and three lots that were to be developed there will be conceded to the town.

“There’s been some concessions made to the town,” he said, noting that some of the Blueberry Lane neighbors had complained of drainage issues. He did not have the number of houses to be constructed but estimated between 17 and 20.

Member Fran DeYoung said that Fitch Avenue may become congested with parking when the EMC parking lot is full. EMC is used as overflow for the high school parking lots and also tends to fill up when all the baseball fields have games.

“Once people realize that there’s an opportunity to park, they’re going to be parking up and down Fitch,” he said.

Member Jane Moran said that there may be fewer parking issues when people choose to walk to sporting events because of the access road. She also said that if a parking problem does occur, residents can appeal to the Select Board for residential parking or similar signage.

“I just think on the whole first look here that it’s a wonderful opportunity to open this up with a formal path to the ball fields for the Blueberry Lane [residents] and others in the Ash Street area,” she said, saying they could access the park and fields “in a more family-friendly way.”

Chair Gary Trendel said that while around 20 houses are being proposed as part of an ANR, the concept previously had been approved as part of the previous plan. He did note that “the comment about parking is real.”

Truax said that there have been neighborhood meetings with abutters about the stormwater runoff issues, as well as meetings with the Conservation Commission. He offered swales, cleaning up the current basins and other mitigation efforts.

Member Rob Benson said he was concerned about the project, saying that “too much time has passed” without activity on the site and that residents should be properly notified. Since that time, EMC Park was built.

“It seems unusual to say that a subdivision has been substantially built from 30 years ago and that it’s still being built, and that it can go through this ANR process,” he said. “I just don’t fundamentally agree with that.”

The endorsement of the ANR was approved by a 5-1-1 vote, with DeYoung voting against and Benson abstaining.

Turkey Ridge questioned on emergency road

Trendel expressed frustration with the Turkey Ridge Estates eight-lot subdivision off Cedar Street Extension and at the end of Lincoln Street, saying that it appeared that the developer has not yet addressed the concerns engineering consultant BETA Group expressed about the design of the emergency access road and other issues.

“We’ve asked on multiple occasions that you work with BETA offline to help speed this process along,” he said. “The reality is that there should be more progress between the applicant and BETA on this.”

Phil Paradis, BETA’s engineering consultant, said that the turn radii and the steep incline of the road would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate, particularly fire engines.

Contractor Shane Perrault spoke on behalf of the applicant and explained that, because it is an emergency access road, it would not be utilized by the public. The road width is 16 feet.

Paradis suggested that everything get “pushed up 20 or 25 feet” to allow the Fire Department access without hitting the curb. Moving the road would allow a fire engine straight access. He also suggested vertical curves in the road rather than sharp turning points.

Said Paradis: “I think the road needs to be engineered — bottom line.”

Fire Chief Bill Miller was concerned about the paving of the road being able to handle the vehicles as well as the curves. He requested a sweep path analysis, noting that the same problem occurred with the Chamberlain-Whalen development. Perrault said the road would be hard-packed gravel. The grade at two points is 10 percent.

Vice Chair Mary Larson-Marlowe said she was concerned during the winter about plowing of the road, especially if there are concerns about navigating the turns.

“There are a lot of issues with this that have not been fleshed out,” Trendel said, noting that this is the fifth meeting on the project.

Paradis also said there was “a lack of typical details” regarding the plans on the drainage that could go into the driveways.

Regarding trail paths, HALT (Hopkinton Area Land Trust) representative Charles Dauchy said that the trail network on the plan was not a truly functional system. If HALT could take over management of the open space, it would design an appropriate trail network. But HALT has not committed to managing the open space because it has not had the opportunity to assess it.

Legacy Farms land covenants approved

Three restricted land covenants were approved unanimously by the Planning Board for the Baystone Development lots at Legacy Farms. Todd MacDowell spoke on behalf of the plan, noting that there are three “development pods.”

There is an agricultural restriction on the left-hand side of the property that is used by Western Nurseries. Restored and landscaped area is to the east of the site, while the largest area of restricted land is reserved for trails and residential use.

MacDowell explained that the homeowners’ associations within the property, as well as a landowners’ association and the Dartmouth Companies, will be responsible for maintaining the sites.