2006-01-12 / News

Planning panel continues development reviews

By Michaela Kennedy

The Planning Commission at its Jan. 4 meeting approved a revised development plan for applicant Lino Corredora to construct a new house in a high groundwater table and impervious layer district. The commission also agreed to continue two other development plans, also located in a subdistrict A area.

Peter Brockmann, an attorney representing Corredora, said the proposed project on Stern Street had been approved unanimously in 2004 by the planning board, but it was turned down by the Zoning Board of Review. The revised plans included a reduction in house size from a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom dwelling with a reduced footprint, according to Brockmann.

Commissioner Victor Calabretta asked if the commission might benefit by communicating more with the zoning board.

The commission approved the plan unanimously.

Dan and Jean Lilly went before the commission a second time to continue the review of their plan to redevelop a house at 132 Beach Ave.

Brian Goldman, the attorney representing the Lillys, said the basement had been removed and fill on the lot had been reduced in the revised plan. The plan showed that a new foundation would replace the existing one, which was deteriorating.

John Caito, architectural engineer for the project, addressed a previous concern of the commission about surface water flow. He said that the lot was “relatively flat” and showed a contour map that displayed elevation levels on the property.

Calabretta asked about the water that collected at the east end of the property. “Once the water starts ponding, the water level goes up,” he pointed out. Calabretta repeated his concern about surface water and the flow direction on the north side of the lot.

The commission discussed the grading created by the fill proposed in the plan. “This does not do what we require, to have minimum disturbance to the ground,” Commission Chairman Gary Girard noted. The commission also discussed minimal impact to the lot, using its guideline of a 600-squarefoot maximum footprint size for minimum impact to a 7,200-squarefoot lot.

According to Town Planner Lisa Bryer, the property is triple the minimum sized lot, but it also includes wetlands.

Goldman said there was no projected change between the net surface water flow that currently exists and the net flow after the new construction. “This hypothetical 600square-foot standard doesn’t exist. If you’re going to apply this mythical standard to a 7,200-square-foot lot, then you should be allowing us 1,800 square feet,” he said.

According to the plan, the foundation of the house itself would increase from 920 square feet to 1,206 square feet, not including a garage. Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz noted that the overall size, the 2,106-square-foot footprint and setback, still needed to be addressed.

Calabretta said the engineer did not take into account standing water in his calculations. Calabretta requested that the commission chairman ask for testimony that the 62 feet of proposed fill was necessary for the plan.

Caito admitted that aesthetics was driving the design with fill. He agreed that the fill could be reduced, but the change would create 4 feet of exposed concrete. “Is that gong to have good curb appeal? I think not,” Caito said.

Lilly noted that the proposed new foundation was an improvement to the lot and would not increase the flow of surface water. He could have kept the original footprint, but “I knew it was going to be a better thing for the environment. I put this in front of you to show everyone that we plan on doing the right thing,” he said.

Commissioner Betty Hubbard said there was “no question that the footprint is too great.” She stressed that more than doubling the footprint on the lot would increase the problems that already existed with the wetlands.

The commissioners agreed to continue the review to allow the applicant to return with revisions to the plan.

In other old business, Craig Carrigan, an engineer representing applicant John Perotti for construction of a three-bedroom house on Ship Street, said that the lot was designated in subdistrict A because it was near impervious ledge, not high ground water.

Abutter Carol Columbo of Beacon Street said that every time it rained, “a river of water comes down into our back yard.” She asked the board for assurance that the storm-water flow would not increase.

In a memo to the town planner, Town Engineer Michael Gray wrote that the revised storm-water design reduced the runoff to Ship Street to less than pre-development flow and volume for a 10-year storm. The design included a change in the grading along the front of the house with a crushed stone trench and a concrete flow diffuser beneath the driveway to promote additional infiltration of surface runoff.

Gray reported that the revised drainage analysis showed an elevation that was about 2 feet lower than the bottom of the sand filter for the individual sewage disposal system. He noted that the change in elevation relieved his concern about the potential for surface water to interfere with the function of the filter.

Hubbard said she was torn on whether or not to accept the plan because the engineering was “unusually good.”

Margaret Hogan, the attorney for the applicant, said the revised plan had “a significant reduction in size from the previous plan.” Hogan asked the commission for direction on the proposal. “There is no standard by which one can really juggle this issue,” she said.

Commissioner Nancy Ventrone said that clear guidance could not be offered, but she added, “In the past, the maximum accepted in a plan in the area was a two-bedroom and no garage.”

Commissioner Barry Holland disagreed, noting that just in the last review the commission was considering a plan that included a garage.

Girard said he was comfortable with the house, but not the garage. “We try to consider the details of every lot. Every lot is different,” he noted.

The commission voted to continue the review.

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