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Planning Board roundup: Plans discussed for historic home at 83 East Main; Frankland Road solar decommissioning plan approved

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Featured: News, News

83 Main Street

The house at 83 Main Street dates back to about 1875. FILE PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

The Planning Board at its meeting Monday night opened a new public hearing on an open space mixed use development (OSMUD) at 83 East Main Street, noting concerns about how the three proposed age-restricted housing units fit in with the historic single-family house that will be replicated on the site and mesh with the neighborhood’s character.

About half of the two-hour meeting was devoted to the proposal for the property by Chubb Road LLC. The site, part of the Village Center zoning subdistrict, is a small triangular plot at the corner of East Main Street and Legacy Farms Roads North (just west of Weston Nurseries).

Developer Roy MacDowell represented Legacy Farms during the presentation of the site plan. He referenced the historic landmark as “the old white house with the aqua-colored shutters.” Because the building and its foundation are in a state of decay, he and the Historical Commission discussed the developer tearing down the building and constructing a replica on the exterior part of the property “exactly as it is or was originally.” The Historical Commission wanted it to be built in the exact location as the current home.

MacDowell added that the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a special permit to put the new house in the same location about a week ago despite a preexisting condition that allowed the house to have inadequate frontage.

In addition to the replica house, the proposal included three age-restricted condominiums for people aged 55 and over at the rear of the site. Each would have a two-car garage where trash would be stored in addition to vehicles.

Screening trees would line the back perimeter of the site. The condos would be a pearl gray with white trim, which would match other buildings in the area.

MacDowell said that Phil Paradis, the town’s consultant from BETA Group, had “a lengthy list” of concerns, some of which were addressed in the updated plans presented during the hearing. The new plans showed fire access to the site, and there will be sprinklers inside the units.

“I believe we covered all the points,” MacDowell said.

However, Paradis did not agree that BETA’s concerns were met. When he started to outline his issues with the plans, particularly stormwater management and lighting, Planning Board Chair Gary Trendel stopped him because it appeared that the number of issues required “a homework assignment for the applicant.”

Trendel proposed a site walk to get a better sense of the project, and board members agreed to attend on Aug. 20.

“It will help to visualize how this fits in with the greater landscape,” he said.

Board members brought up concerns about parking, particularly for visitors. While there are two spaces in each garage, McDowell said that an additional two cars could park in each driveway.

“It just doesn’t seem right on its face,” board member Rob Benson said of the plan.

Added Trendel: “I’m struggling to see how a kind of random three-family structure fits in.”

MacDowell explained that the zoning allows for housing as well as commercial or office development. But housing made the most sense.

The board voted to continue the hearing until the Aug. 27 meeting, when the development team will provide updated plans and renderings.

Frankland Road solar decommissioning plan approved

The board unanimously approved a plan by Agilitas Energy for the decommissioning plan of the Frankland Road solar development it recently purchased from Seaboard Solar.

Principal Planner John Gelcich explained that a decommissioning plan previously had been submitted by Seaboard before it sold the property. This plan was put on hold due to the transaction. Agilitas presented a revised decommissioning bond plan, which the board needed to consider so that the town would be the beneficiary of the bond.

Mustafa Sezgin from Agilitas explained that the amount of the bond value was changed from about $104,000 to $227,425, which includes a 10 percent contingency fee. The bond’s term is for 25 years. The estimated cost for decommissioning the project is $476,177.45. There also is a 3 percent adjustment for inflation, which is standard practice.

Board member Fran DeYoung asked who would pick up the cost if the property were sold. Gelcich explained that the town would be the bond beneficiary. The contingency fee is included in case the town would have to hire a third party to remove the solar development.

The board also unanimously approved two related project cost adjustments on the landscaping and stormwater management plans. The estimate for landscaping was $149,980, which includes plants, maintenance and water. Work should be completed in three months.

The stormwater management bond would be for $16,875 for maintenance. The construction infrastructure cost would be $967,000.

Eversource LNG update OK’d

The board unanimously approved minor alterations it determined to be insignificant to a stormwater management plan for Eversource’s liquified natural gas (LNG) facility at 52 Wilson Street. Tim Grace represented the applicant for “a minor alteration” to landscaping that previously was proposed. The landscaping would be moved about 20 feet away from the fence “mainly due to safety and access.”

“With landscaping that close to the fence, the fear is always that somebody could climb that landscaping and use it to gain access to the facility,” Grace said.

Some previously proposed landscaping on the street side of the fence already is protected by arbor vitae and was deemed unnecessary. On the far side, the landscaping is proposed to be moved forward to allow for loam and seeding. Trees would replace the current scrub growth. This would benefit the project from a stormwater management perspective, Grace noted. The work mainly will be performed behind the scale house.

Paul resigns position

Longtime Planning Board member Dave Paul resigned from the board, as he is moving out of town, Trendel announced.

“He’s been one of our longest-standing members of the board,” Trendel said. “I always appreciate his honesty and his integrity. I’m grateful that we had his engagement for as long as we did.”

This creates a vacancy on the board that was posted Tuesday on the town’s website.

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