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Whisper Way subdivision dominates Planning Board meeting

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Business, Featured: News, News

The Planning Board at its meeting Monday night granted an extension of time for the donation of open space at a 12-unit subdivision on Whisper Way in a 7-0 vote after a procedural error hampered the process. Five additional acres also will be donated to the town that will allow for trail connectivity.

Land was supposed to be conveyed to the town as part of an open space and landscape preservation development (OSLPD) special permit for the 12-unit subdivision off Wood Street on the west side of Interstate 495. However, 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.

Principal Planner John Gelcich explained the rules outlining the donation of open space at the start of the meeting. The extension of time, he said, would be until 90 days after the 2024 Annual Town Meeting in May votes to approve the donation. This would give the Select Board time to work through the process of the town taking ownership of the land.

At its Sept. 14 meeting, the Open Space Preservation Commission voted to be the recipient of the land in question. Its acquisition would allow the property to connect to Cameron Woods and existing trails along town-owned property. To prevent future confusion, it also voted to be the primary recipient of donated land by default.

Vice chair Rob Benson, who chaired the meeting in the absence of chair Gary Trendel, read a motion drafted by Gelcich extending the deadline for the conveyance, subject to Select Board approval of the escrow for the land. It was approved 7-0.

After this vote, the board voted 8-0 to release the nine remaining lots of the subdivision for sale. Gelcich noted that the subdivision road is nearly complete and the bond has been received by the town.

Later in the meeting, the open space donation was discussed in greater detail. The development team acquired abutting land that allowed the open space land donation to be increased by 5 acres. Some land being donated is contiguous to town-owned open space.

Joe Marquedant spoke on behalf of the applicant. He noted that previously, 20 acres of the 40-acre site were to be preserved as open space. Seven months after the project originally was approved in October 2019, abutting parcels totaling 31 acres to the south were purchased that had access easements to homes in the Valleywood Drive area.

About 20,000 square feet of land that was going to be used for a communal septic system now will be used as open space, Marquedant explained. Also, the more recently acquired land will allow a link between the Whisper Way and Valleywood subdivisions.

The only minor project change is a 45-foot access easement shift to the east that would create a break in the 100-foot buffer zone and would split the open space into multiple parcels. Benson said it “makes sense” because it increases lot access.

Member Jane Moran, who also is an OSPC member, confirmed that the commission is “very excited” about joining the land acquisition to “create contiguity.”

A waiver request for the buffer width change was approved 8-0, as was the special permit amendment and a definitive subdivision amendment.

188-190 Fruit Street modified

A project before the Planning Board for 188-190 Fruit Street was modified by the developer after the board signaled previously that it would be more amenable to a single unit on the site due to poor soil conditions. The revised stormwater management and earth removal permits were reviewed, but the hearings were continued until the Oct. 16 meeting to obtain a peer review.

David Henao from civil engineering firm VHB explained that one single-family unit now is being proposed at 188 Fruit Street. More space has been added between the proposed home and existing wetlands and vernal pools, and a small stormwater detention system was proposed.

Elmwood Farms subdivision amendment approved

The board voted 8-0 to approve an amendment to the previously approved Elmwood Farms III subdivision, which is to be constructed off Blueberry Lane. Toll Brothers, the developer, has decided to complete work on the subdivision, a majority of which was developed in the 1990s. Town counsel determined that the developer will not need to get another approval to construct the subdivision as long as it adheres to the approved subdivision plan, according to Gelcich.

Stormwater management permit hearing continued

The board continued a stormwater management permit application hearing for 85R and 87 Hayden Rowe Street so that a final peer review of minor changes can be presented at the next meeting. The decision deadline was extended to Nov. 1.

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