The Conservation Commission met for nearly four hours Tuesday evening and approved changes to projects previously made in front of the commission, including many aspects of the Connelly Farms project as well as the Leonard Street development.
Scott Goddard, representative of Ravenwood LLC and developer Ron Nation, updated the commission for the Connelly Farms subdivision project near Hayden Rowe Street near the intersection with College Street and took the majority of the meeting. Seven of the nine lots were heard on declarations of intent (NOI), which sparked a long discussion. All NOIs continued until the next meeting.
“The two main issues related to the impact of wetlands are wetland application and rainwater management,” he explained in an overview.
The wetland replication was in the front field, which was easily accessible for construction access, he said. He also noted that rainwater management was now appropriate if the project was viewed as a conventional subdivision rather than a cluster subdivision. However, it has been proposed as a cluster so that there is not as much road construction and impervious surface, and so that it is centered away from the river bank.
There is the question of whether the project is “economically equivalent” – that is, the amount of expenditure on the project had to take into account a profit. It must also protect the river bank area through the rainwater management system that has been reviewed and approved by experts.
âWe believe there has been a lot of thought into this plan to preserve the open space,â continued Goddard, noting that the builder and his surveyor agree. He said an alternate design has been proposed to move three houses on lots 6, 7, and 8 further from the riverside, and that the regulations allow a project to go up to 10 percent in the riverside area.
Conservation manager Kim Ciaramicoli questioned the fact that it had not been submitted to the Commission beforehand and had not been approved.
Chairman Jeff Barnes noted that the build sequence needed to be provided as previously requested. He also said he was glad that three houses were removed from the riverside, but also that the catch basin and yards could be further removed from the wetlands. The retention basin is located at the lowest point of the project.
âWe chose this location to capture as much water as possible,â said Joe Marquedant of the JD Marquedant & Associates land surveyor, who represented the applicant, âso that we can reduce the amount of land clearing associated with the surrounding infrastructure in other locations. “
He added that they are “looking for a balance” to give the houses enough space in the garden.
Barnes said the rainwater hearing should continue until the next meeting on November 2nd to allay concerns about the three riverside courtyards.
During the hearings on individual properties, general concerns were raised, several meters across and the length of the driveways.
On the first lot, committee member Ted Barker-Hook expressed concern about the front yard being within the 30-foot buffer, which was confirmed by members Jim Ciriello and Janine LeBlanc. They feared it would set a precedent for yards to invade the buffer zone.
Goddard said the statutes allow applicants to work within the buffer zone when conservation efforts have been made.
“I just feel like we can reduce the lawn area on the lots we looked at,” replied Barker-Hook, noting that he is not within a few feet of the buffer zone.
Barnes noted that the commission has been more conservative on rainwater issues as rainwater management has become an issue with all of Hopkinton’s recent development.
On Lot 3, Lucas environmental consultant Matt Varrell said he was concerned about the “extremely large amount of sidewalk” in front of the driveway. Nation said the amount could be cut.
When talking about dump management, Marquedant said it was administered by the homeowners association. The easement spans multiple lots about which Member Kerry Reed raised concerns as there could not be fences between the lots. Nation confirmed that fences are not allowed.
Varrell also questioned the swales, suggesting that the water could be directed back to the wetlands instead of the catch basin. Marquedant stated that the concerns raised with the planning authority would affect the wetlands, which is why the hollows are being used. Members expressed concerns about the full usability of the shipyards once the hollows cross them.
Goddard said the applicant should be commended for the design, which takes conservation efforts into account. Barnes agreed but said that “a little more work needs to be done”.
Varrell suggested a “middle ground” where some of the trees on the lots could be kept a certain size while the lawns could be made usable.
Modified Leonard Street project
Lou Petrozzi of the Wall Street Development Corporation appeared before the board of directors on the three-lot Leonard Street project, which the commission approved after discussion, with Ed Harrow voting against. He had previously been fined for problems with rainwater management.
Petrozzi noted that over the past week, his team was able to “have essentially finalized the retention basin and spreader,” as well as completing the clay and seeding. The remainder of the infrastructure work on the northern portion of the property is expected to be completed by the end of this week, while work on the remaining portion of the basin hollow is expected to be completed next week.
“The wetland is back where it normally would be,” said Petrozzi. The utility work around Pleasant Street will be done next week, the sewer shortly after.
Barnes reminded Petrozzi that the deadline for the infrastructure works is November 1st due to the enforcement order regarding the rainwater problem and pumping water to other properties.
Petrozzi said the water would be pumped onto his property, but the commission disagreed. He also said the enforcement order was based on the construction of the carriageway, but the overarching concern of the commission was the flood problem.
“A lot of work has been done in the last week and we appreciate that,” said Barnes.
Petrozzi said the revised plan, with a hollow over the northern perimeter, was an improvement on the original design. He said the water would run around the houses and west to the catch basin, which was “a major improvement”.
He also plans to have a homeowners association maintain the Mulde.
âWe have a good relationship with our neighbors,â he said, noting that if there was a problem, the country would be upgraded.
Abutter Thomas Terry, on the phone, begged to disagree. He owns the property to the west and said the water had been pumped onto his property.
“The water is coming all the way to my country and it really becomes a big problem,” he said. The water used to flow from the opposite corner, he said, but now it flows towards his property.
“I reject the fact that someone was telling everyone that the Abutter are for everything that goes on and that everyone is giving a lot of praise,” he said. “I’m very upset about what happened here.”
He also said he doesn’t think the homeowners association that manages the Mulde would be a “homeowner agreement nightmare” that shouldn’t be allowed on such a small project.
Barnes said the pipe into the catch basin will be capped, which is designed to hold the water in the basin.
Petrozzi said Terry came to the site while a trench was being dug to lay a sewer pipe, which may have created confusion. It has not been inspected by the city as it is private, he said.
Barnes said, âThe water flows to his property. We leave it at that. “
Chamberlain-Whalen batch approved after change
Lot 12 of the Chamberlain Whalen project was unanimously approved. Goddard, the project’s environmental advisor, reported that the Board of Appeal had agreed to reduce the front yard setback from 18 to 30 feet. This allowed the proposed home to be completely outside of the 100 foot buffer zone.
He asked for a motion to review the new plan. In a previous meeting, Bohler Engineering’s John Kucich said he believed Lot 12 was the biggest challenge in development and that it could not be withdrawn from the buffer zone.
I just want to express my appreciation to the applicant for looking for a different solution, âsaid Barker-Hook. “I think we often hear, ‘This is the only way we can get this project up and running,’ and if you are asked to reconsider it, you will find other ways.”