TOWN OF PELHAM
PLANNING BOARD MEETING
February 22, 2001
The acting Chairman, Jeff Gowan, called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
The Secretary, Bill Scanzani, called the roll:
Jeff Gowan, Bill Scanzani, Peter McNamara, Paddy Culbert, Henry DeLuca, Alternate Gael Ouellette, Interim Planning Director Clay Mitchell (arrived at approximately 8:15pm)
Victor Danevich, Selectmen’s Representative Deb Casey, Alternate Carl Huether, Alternate Richard Foote, Alternate Michael Soby
Mr. Gowan announced that Alternate Gael Ouellette would be voting in Mr. Victor Danevich’s absence.
Review of WCD administrative memo from Town Council
Mr. Scanzani explained that there were questions regarding the Section A in the original WCD ordinance passed by the Board for Town ballot in March. He said at the time, Town Council felt the wording was clear, there were some that felt the wording was not. In order to clarify the wording, Legal Council drafted a memo to help state the Board’s intent which, if acceptable, the Board would vote to accept as part of public record. Mr. Scanzani read the memo aloud. ATTACHMENT #1.
(Scanzani/Culbert) To accept the letter of intent from Town Council, and make part of public record as well as part of the enforcement provisions for the proposed WCD ordinance.
(6 - 0 - 0) The motion carries.
Mr. Scanzani said Mr. Danevich had requested that a standardized version of a fiscal impact form be created. He also noted that updated current tax value numbers should be used. He passed a copy of the draft form around for the Board to review in which he had highlighted the differences.
Mr. Culbert questioned the school age children demographic multiplier used, and believed that the current (actual) rate should be used, and change the rate as it changes each year. Mr. Scanzani noted currently the multiplier used was .86 from the 1990 census and that if the two census figures (from the 1980 census data of 2.26 and the 1990 census data of .86) were averaged, it would equal the proposed 1.50 number shown on the impact. Mr. Gowan asked when the data would be finalized. Mr. Scanzani said it had been completed, and released by total, but not by region. Mr. Gowan asked if an attempt could be made to obtain the correct number. Mr. Scanzani said that NRPC didn’t have the actual number yet.
Ms. Ouellette asked how often the numbers changed. Mr. Scanzani informed it changed every ten years.
Mr. Gowan felt the Board should review after the new school age impact multipliers were available.
The Board recessed for five minutes.
ML 10-110, 10-361 Richardson’s Farm/Dutton Road - Proposed 38-Lot Subdivision for Preliminary Conceptual Review
Mr. Scanzani read the list of abutters aloud. There was no abutter present who did not have his or her name read aloud.
Mr. Gowan informed that the discussion would be non-binding and at the time the plan was being considered by the Board, the abutters would be re-notified.
Mr. Kurt Meisner of Meisner - Brem Corporation representing B & G Development Corporation appeared before the Board to present the 38-Lot preliminary conceptual review. He said the proposed was commonly known as Richardson’s Farm, which contained an existing dwelling and farm stand. He noted the site was approximately 52 acres, with 2/3 having existing apple orchards. Mr. Meisner began by reviewing the conventional plan, which conformed to the existing subdivision regulations. He said they had a completed the base map which included a finalized property line survey, finalized on the ground topographical information as well as soils information and the wetlands had been delineated (by Gove Environmental).
Mr. Meisner informed that in November they started to prepare various open space plans due to the proposed open space ordinance. He then reviewed the open space version presented, which conformed to the final version of the open space ordinance. He said there would be one main road which connected Dutton Road to Garland Drive and along which they left open space. He pointed out that the open space would be left around the perimeter as well as in between the cul-de-sacs. Mr. Meisner said that walking trails would be constructed throughout the property. He said the trails would be cleared of trees and brush at approximately 6’ wide. He also noted that the existing pond would remain in the open space and they were proposing the addition of picnic tables to create a recreational area. He said there were approximately 42 lots, each being approximately 20,000 square feet. He said that septic would be on-site, and they were going to explore having individual wells. He ended by informing there would be no wetlands filled and the buffers would be maintained.
Mr. Gowan asked which direction Mr. Meisner felt would be more appropriate. Mr. Meisner’s personal preference was the open space plan.
Mr. Culbert asked if all the calculations were met. He asked how the density was increased by four, with the open space plan. Mr. Meisner said in the regulations there was a 5% density bonus for conservation land and passive recreation. Mr. Culbert said it was for bedrooms. He then asked how the extra 5% was calculated. Mr. Meisner said he used a square, then the sizing was done on the computer.
Mr. DeLuca asked if the price ranges differed between the two plans. Mr. Meisner expected that the style of houses would be similar, and said he didn’t see a big difference in the house values. Mr. DeLuca asked if the trails would be public or just for the people living in the subdivision. Mr. Meisner said it was proposed to be used by the people in the subdivision, but it wouldn’t make a difference to the developer if it were to be used in another way.
Mr. Scanzani thanked Mr. Meisner for presenting the two plans. He commented for the public about the amount of roadway between the two plans. He noted that the open space, as shown on the plan, provided for a buffer of forested land for both the neighbors and the wildlife. He also pointed out that the open space plan wouldn’t need wetlands filled, but the conventional plan would. He liked the idea of recreational land versus conservation.
Mr. Gowan said initially his reaction wasn’t positive due to the slight reduction in the amount of road and that much of the open space ran along the width of the road. He didn’t believe the open space would remain. He said he would prefer to see larger open space areas rather than small areas throughout the parcel. Mr. Gowan said there were there were nice natural features contained on the property, such as orchards and noted that in an alternate open space plan they may be maintained and have more value.
Mr. Culbert asked if the recreational area was included in the 30% open space. Mr. Meisner would review the ordinance. Mr. Gowan further explained how the recreational area versus open space area could be calculated.
Mr. Scanzani discussed the sizing of the roads and felt that the first draft was a good example.
Mr. Meisner informed that the most well received subdivision in surrounding towns was that which contained buffers along the roadways to keep a rural atmosphere. He said the roads could be shortened, he gave examples and discussed plans he had worked on in other towns in the area. Mr. Meisner then noted that most of the subdivision would be through apple orchards and said that most would remain.
Mr. Gowan reminded that traffic impact, environmental impact and fiscal impact studies would be done with open space developments. He also noted that no more than ten houses would be done per year. He said after the plan was reviewed and if it were accepted for consideration, there would be a site walk.
Mr. John James, Birch Lane didn’t feel much consideration was given to the abutters. He said he would lose a million-dollar view out his back window, which was the reason he bought the house. He said the plan showed a house directly behind his. He asked that the houses be staggered. Mr. Gowan asked if the problem was with both the plans. Mr. James answered yes. Mr. Gowan noted that the owner had a right to develop his land. Mr. James understood, but still didn’t want a house directly behind his. He said his deck and swimming pool (built last year) would be approximately 20’-30’ from his property. Mr. James reiterated that he didn’t have a problem with the land being developed, he asked if the houses could be staggered so the view was some what maintained. Mr. DeLuca noted that such input as Mr. James’ was
providing was exactly the reason the abutters were notified. Mr. Meisner pointed out the buffer between the subdivision and Birch Lane, which he said was wooded. Mr. James informed that there were trees behind his house, but they didn’t prevent him from seeing for miles.
Mr. Andrew Landry, 19 Garland Drive asked what the buffer was between his property and the proposed subdivision. Mr. Meisner said there would be approximately 75’. Mr. Landry noted that the two proposed house lots along side his property were located on wetlands. Mr. Meisner said the property had been surveyed for soils and there were no wetlands in the area. Mr. Landry disagreed and noted there was a lot of water at that location. Mr. Meisner said it could be reviewed further. Mr. Landry said that in the past perk tests had failed in that location and inquired what had changed. Mr. Meisner did not have an answer, but noted that if the lots didn’t perk, they would not be developed. Mr. Gowan noted that if the plan was accepted for consideration, it would be scheduled for a site walk (which would probably be in the spring).
Mr. Scott Paquette, Birch Lane asked that the 100’-200’ buffers between the proposed subdivision and Birch Land be further explained. Mr. Meisner noted the Wheatly property and said from the existing tree line to the property line would be approximately 350’. Mr. Paquette believed that his boundary line was approximately 50’-100’ from the tree line. He said the plan showed that the tree line would be cut in to. Mr. Scanzani noted that conventional plans allowed for trees to be cut up to the property line, versus an open space plan which generally provided for no cut buffers. Mr. Paquette said he had bought the house three months ago and moved from three houses down the street, because of the view. He was not in favor of the open space plan and said he preferred the conventional plan. Mr. Meisner said they tried to create the spaces and buffers and open spaces to maintain the beauty for both the people buying it and the people living near the subdivision.
Mr. Gowan asked if consideration could be given to the house notched into the cul-de-sac. Mr. Meisner answered yes. Mr. Gowan then noted unless an abutter had a deeded view easement there wasn’t a way to preserve the view. Mr. Paquette understood. He then spoke of the safety issues with the added traffic accessing the center of town through Garland Drive and the new subdivision. Mr. Gowan said a traffic study would be done if the plan was accepted for consideration. Mr. Paquette noted children crossing the street via the walking paths. Mr. Meisner said that curves and reverse curves could help slow the traffic down as well as crosswalks and stop signs.
Ms. Diane Ninteau, Dutton Road said she liked the open space plan because of the recreation area near the pond. She asked that the remain conservation land, in it’s natural state. Her main concern was children congregating in the area next to the pond creating havoc. She also said she was concerned with the dirtbikes and four-wheelers, which were currently a problem. She noted that curved roads do not deter speeding traffic.
Mr. Dennis Sawyer, 58 Dutton Road said he was concerned with the water and drainage. He said last spring (after no snow in the winter) he had to add a trench and two 4” drain pipes along the entire back of his property. Mr. Meisner said because the plan was preliminary, he didn’t have a drainage design. He said there were areas, which they proposed detention ponds, and the disposition would drain down and across Dutton Road. Mr. Sawyer believed the drainage would run along the walking trail and feared it would run through his yard. Mr. Mitchell felt the question was premature and said the developer’s responsibility would be to design the drainage and the Board would hire engineers to review the design. Mr. Gowan reiterated that if the plan was accepted for consideration there would be a site walk. Mr. Sawyer also informed that he was very familiar with the property and agreed with Mr. Landry that the area at Garland Drive and Birch Lane remains very wet year-round.
Ms. Lois Landry, 19 Garland Drive asked if the abutters would be allowed to have input into the traffic studies. Mr. Gowan said the traffic studies would be performed by CLD, who would present the information. Mr. Dave Brouillet of CLD informed that the traffic study would review existing and projected traffic counts. He said road impacts would also be reviewed. Ms. Landry pointed out her parcel and informed that the pitched angle of the road was dangerous for small children, pedestrians, bicyclist and such. She said there was currently a problem with speeding cars on her corner and wanted to ensure proper studies and signage be reviewed. Ms. Landry requested that the road be slightly built up so that automobiles would be able to properly see the dangers ahead of them. Mr. Brouillet informed that the state required 400’ of site distance for roads. Mr. Scanzani said if the area was a problem, road improvement would be done, even if it meant part of Garland Drive was to be improved. Ms. Landry also inquired if the wildlife corridors would connect other than on the walking path. She noted that due to the difficult winter, deer had been coming out from the wooded area and searching for food, sometimes wandering across her property and out into the street. She was concerned and wanted to know what was the proposed flow for wildlife. Mr. Meisner said included as part of the plan for final review would be an environmental impact study and a wildlife habitat study. He said that all of the open space around the property was connected to help ensure the current flow would not be completely disrupted. Ms. Landry ended by saying she liked the buffer zones between the existing homes and the proposed subdivision. She asked who owned the land in the buffer, and who would have control of it and who could plant a tree on it. Mr. Gowan said except for the part deeded to conservation, the remaining open space would be controlled by a homeowners association.
Mr. Landry asked if the developers would put trees on the property. Mr. Gowan said the possibly would.
Chief Evan Haglund, 57 Dutton Road said he was concerned with the drainage flowing into his lot and wanted to know if the abutters would have input regarding the drainage. Mr. Meisner said as soon as the final plans were presented to the Board, the abutters would have the opportunity to comment on the plans. He said if there were specific issues, he would be open to discussions. Mr. Scanzani noted that the site development drainage would not negatively affect an abutter. Mr. Gowan noted that the plan would be going before Conservation for review. Mr. Mitchell noted that once plans were submitted, they were public record and would be available for review.
Ms. Cheryl Prudhomme, Dutton Road said she liked the open space plan with the walking trail. She requested that abutters have a contingency to use the trails. Mr. Gowan said Conservation may allow, but it would be essentially up to the developer to present and the homeowner association to decide.
Ms. Alicia Hennessey, 71 Dutton Road was in favor of the open space ordinance and asked the Board to consider moving the open space along the road to the rear of the properties to maintain the wildlife corridor and add more to the walking trails. Mr. Scanzani said one of the proposals in the new subdivision regulations was to reduce the width of the community roads and cul-de-sac lengths. Ms. Hennessey didn’t feel there was any reason to have the roads as wide as they were and said as far as for conservation reasons, she encouraged reducing the widths. Mr. Gowan noted that the Safety Committee would also have to provide feed back.
Mr. Meisner asked if the proposed subdivision regulations would be forthcoming. Mr. Gowan noted that there would be a discussion later in the meeting. Mr. Scanzani said the Board’s intention was to have the proposed subdivision regulations ready by Town Meeting so they could be adopted shortly after the ballot vote in March.
Mr. DeLuca asked if preparing two plans was a hardship on Mr. Meisner. Mr. Meisner said no, that it was a process they followed in other towns. Mr. Culbert asked if the conventional plan would be revised. Mr. Meisner noted that the plan was a full on the ground topographical plan. Mr. Gowan said the preliminary conventional plan would go to CLD for review.
Mr. Charles Gaudet asked if Mr. Peter Zohdi of Herbert Associates dropped off plans for signature. Mr. Mitchell answered yes. Mr. Gowan asked if in the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chair would be able to sign plans. Mr. Mitchell answered yes. Mr. Gowan informed Mr. Gaudet the plans would be signed at the end of the meeting.
Bond Release Procedure
Mr. Mitchell noted that there was no bond release procedure in writing and he wanted to enact a procedure. He said from this day forward the procedure would be to have one page of paper that would have the Planning Director’s and CLD’s recommendations and would be present when the bond was released. He said the Board would sign it at the time they voted and would be sent to the Town Treasurer the following morning.
Proposed Subdivision Regulations
Mr. Mitchell wanted the discussion to be general to allow him to focus his efforts, then the next draft created could be reviewed carefully and address specific issues.
The Board discussed the following points:
Page One - Section A. - Mr. Culbert asked about open space versus common area. Mr. Mitchell already had a note to make a distinction between the two and easements would be better defined;
Page Two - Mr. Scanzani discussed the possibility of requiring a conventional plan if an OSPD plan didn’t meet the purpose. He also suggested that the Board have the authority to deny an OSPD plan; There was a brief discussion regarding the purpose of the exemptions;
Page Three - Mr. Scanzani suggested adding a section F under Legal Review Approval to add a requirement that the home owner’s association is to set up a strong financial base. There was a brief discussion as to when improvement costs should be assessed. Ms. Ouellette noted that banks would thoroughly review any homeowner’s agreement and would probably help to fine tune language.
Section F - Mr. Culbert suggested the addition of the words “completed application”. Mr. Mitchell said he was trying to expand the Board’s authority and the section created a new process for an exemption from the new OSPD;
Section A - Mr. Culbert felt “condominium” should be striked throughout the document. Mr. Gowan suggested replacing with “homeowners association”. Mr. Mitchell said the words “condominium agreements” could simply be deleted;
Section B - Mr. Culbert asked that the term “park and recreation” be changed to “common area” in this section as well as other sections throughout the document.
Page Four - Section E - Mr. Culbert suggested adding “at the applicant’s expense” at the
end of the paragraph even though it is assumed. He also wanted to know if 20% was adequate for test pits. Mr. Brouillet felt that 20% was reasonable. There was a discussion regarding the randomness of test pits. Mr. Gowan suggested that language be added for the placement and fair distribution of test pits.
Section F - Mr. Culbert asked if the Board would not consider waivers for WCD, wetlands crossings or length of cul-de-sac. Mr. Mitchell said the
section was difficult. He said that he was referencing the term ‘waiver’ as provided for in 674:36. He said he could amend the language to have any required waivers meet the standard of review of the existing regulations.
Page Six - Section C - Mr. Culbert asked if the language was including land, which ran through power lines. Mr. Gowan answered yes. Mr. Scanzani clarified that the utilities noted were separate and not for the subdivision. There was a brief discussion regarding the uses of passive versus non-passive recreational areas.
Page Seven- Mr. Brouillet discussed roadway widths and said there was a balance between safety and conservation. He wanted the Board to think about winter conditions as well as neighborhood issues such as when neighbors have parties, etc. Mr. Culbert asked how many feet would be the narrowest acceptable width. Mr. Brouillet said 20’. He then explained that a road box could be added in case the road was to be broadened later. He also suggested that when the final draft was done that it was reviewed for conflicts. Mr. Brouillet said he would work with Mr. Mitchell for any proposed language.
Page Eight - Section E - Mr. DeLuca inquired if the term “dead end” should be replaced with a more accurate term. Mr. Culbert added that Mr. Don Foss the Road Agent should be consulted regarding the section. Ms. Ouellette asked
if the “dead end” would be replaced. Mr. Scanzani reiterated that the Road Agent and the Safety Committee should comment.
Mr. Scanzani discussed the possibility of having an easement to the undeveloped land behind the proposed subdivision. The Board briefly discussed the types of open space developments they would like to view, mainly where the open space was in larger areas and not along the road.
Bob Yarmo Memo
Mr. Scanzani informed that an incident had occurred at the Conservation meeting February 14, 2001 and reviewed a memo Mr. Bob Yarmo, Chairman, Conservation had sent to the Planning Board. Mr. Gowan informed that Conservation was an advisory board of the Planning Board and either board would not tolerate outbursts.
Mr. Culbert noted that Conservation needed to have reasonable requests and recommendations. He felt that they should be commenting mainly on wetlands and WCD.
There was a discussion regarding at what point bridges would be built versus filling in wetlands. Mr. Brouillet said when bridges were added to replace what could be culverts, the area then would fail to receive state funding. Mr. Mitchell said the regulations may need to be changed. He said he would be creating a handbook for development that would lay out all aspects of development (i.e. checklist, application form, bond information). He felt that when plans were submitted, they should automatically go directly to Conservation for review (with or without the applicant present). He said once Conservation reviewed, they should write a letter to the Planning Board outlining their recommendations. Mr. Scanzani asked if a plan, met on paper, the Board’s criteria if the various appropriate committees could review it and have impact studies done before the Board accepted for consideration. Mr. Gowan said per recommendation by NRPC, the applicant could not be asked to spend money before the plan had been accepted for consideration. He ended by saying he was in favor of the creation of the handbook Mr. Mitchell spoke of.
There was a brief discussion regarding what Conservation’s responsibilities are. Mr. Gowan asked Mr. Mitchell if the Board could take a consensus vote to have plans from this point forward go directly to Conservation at the time it is submitted. The Board members were all in agreement.
Mr. Mitchell asked the Board to be cognizant of CLD’s presence when plans were being reviewed without the applicant or applicant issues. Mr. Gowan felt the Chairman should be included in the discussion of arranging the agenda so issues involving CLD would be reviewed first.
Mr. DeLuca informed that at the last NRPC meeting he was informed that the latest book by Robert Lamere would be given to the Town. He said it contained information regarding the same issues the Board was currently reviewing (i.e. saving land).
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting.
The motion was adjourned at approximately 10:45pm.
Charity A. L. Willis