Two-Lot Subdivision Planned for West Street

The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) opened a public hearing regarding a proposed West Street two-lot subdivision on March 11. The 44,051 square foot lot, located at 116 West Street and which currently includes a historic home, would be split to accommodate a second home. Attorney Josh Latham, speaking for the property owners, stated that the current lot is four times the size of the abutting lots, though it is currently a non-conforming lot, due to lack of frontage on West Street. Typically, this type of subdivision would require a thirty-foot wide street with sidewalks, lights, and a sixty-foot wide cul-de-sac. The property owners are seeking waivers for several of these requirements, as placing this size street on the property would significantly increase the amount of impervious material on the site as well as require the historic home to be moved.

 

Several abutters expressed concerns about water management and runoff from the new lot. Abutter Dan Ryan reported that he gets standing water in his yard every spring, some of which had to be pumped out by the fire department this past year. Abutter Janet Barry confirmed this observation stating that she gets three feet of water in her yard each spring. Project engineer Steve Flemming assured neighbors that the project would only create 912 square feet of new impervious surface and that the proposed water mitigation system should be sufficient to handle water on the site, though he admitted that tests for the depth of the water table had not yet been completed, due to the fact that doing these tests in winter tended to yield incorrect results. Blodgett shared that the area in question once had a small stream that flowed through it, which might account for the springtime water issues. The CPDC continued the public hearing to April 8 at 7:45 pm, where it hopes the water table tests will have been completed and that town departments including engineering and fire will have had a chance to comment.

CPDC also received an update regarding the development of the site at 24 Gould Street. The developer has submitted plans for a building permit and shared a few differences in the project with the CPDC. A notch for an electrical transformer has been created on the first floor and there has been articulation added on the facade over the garage door, which has been made taller to allow access into the garage for larger trucks. The building height and setbacks are all the same as previously approved. Two of the three-bedroom apartments have been changed to one-bedroom apartments. The overall apartment count remains the same. Chair Nicholas Safina expressed dismay that the front facade of the proposed building had changed, now extending red brick almost to the base of the structure. He suggested that the design team return to a plan that used a different material for the first-floor facade, as previously approved, which Safina suggested would improve the esthetic of the building. CPDC voted 4-0 to determine that the changes as presented are minor changes. The commission also voted 4-0 to approve the proposed minor plan changes. CPDC also voted 4-0 to approve the proposed materials to be used on the building. These votes will allow a building permit to be issued. The commission also voted 4-0 to accept and approve the arborist opinion regarding tree removal on the site. CPDC member and project abutter Pamela Adrian recused herself from the votes.

CPDC continued to revise its design guidelines for the Downtown Smart Growth District, discussing how to define the term “neighborhood” and “transition zone.” It also discussed the formula for determining acceptable building heights in the district.

CPDC reviewed plans for proposed zoning bylaw amendments which will be submitted for approval at November Town Meeting. The commission voted 5-0 to continue the public hearing for the proposed Howard Street subdivision and voted 5-0 to continue the site plan review for 258-262 Main Street. Both hearings were continued to April 8.

CPDC reorganized, electing John Weston as chair and Rachel Hitch as secretary. CPDC adjourned at midnight.

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