Approval for new cottage
At the request the Board of Review, Planning Commission on May 1 reconsidered a previously approved building application because abutters brought forward flooding concerns.
Donna Perry earlier this year had received permission to construct a two-bedroom cottage on a small lot on Stern Street. Ground water from several adjacent lots drain over Perry’s lot.
“The lot is considered sort of a dinner plate,” said Dan Cotta, an engineer representing Perry. “Water floods to a depth.”
However, he maintained that rain gardens and grading on the lot will prevent flooding on neighboring lots.
When asked what improvements he made to the application following concerns from neighbors, Cotta said, “The rain gardens got bigger.”
Rain gardens are areas planted with a variety of vegetation that help contain water.
Cotta maintained the new plantings elevated the lot from one that could withstand a 10-year storm to one that could withstand a 25-year storm.
Abutting property owners were unconvinced and spoke in opposition to the proposed construction.
“I have a dry lot and I want to keep it that way,” said William McClain, who lives across the street and owns the lot directly to the east of Perry’s. “My concern is that I have a very nice lot and I’m positive it isn’t going to stay that way after they put in fill.”
Perry’s application would require some fill around the proposed cottage as a necessity of construction.
McClain explained he was worried the proposed cottage and driveway would create a dam that would push ground water back onto his lot. He requested the application be amended in order for water to flow “under the foundation and driveway.”
McClain also requested that iron markers be placed in the ground so the land could be returned to the current gradient.
“I have twenty benchmarks in the neighborhood, he can pick anyone he wants,” said Cotta, who went on to explain the land undulates only “1 foot to 18 inches over three lots.”
It was agreed that an iron marker would be placed on the road since the street will not be altered during construction.
Perry’s lot sits in the middle of a slight depression that extends over three lots. Stern Street sits on slightly elevated ground to the north. Ground water flows over Perry’s lot from the north and east, and drains down to the southwest. During rainstorms, it was argued, ponding often occurs. Water backs up and creates a shallow standing body of water.
“Ponding does go across property lines,” said Town Engineer Mike Gray.
However, Gray explained that Perry’s application met standards. “We as staff believe [engineers have] met the intent of the ordinance,” he said.
The intent of the ordinance is to allow water to continue to flow.
The Planning Commission took a straw pole and unanimously supported the application. However, a final vote was tabled until the next meeting to give staff more time to reach a final conclusion.
The only other matter undertaken was a discussion concerning the creation of an overlaying historic district for Lower Shoreby Hill. The creation of a historic disTentative trict would also require the creation of a historic commission to oversee the neighborhood.
Chairman Mike Swistak read aloud a draft recommendation to the Town Council outlining the Planning Commission’s opinion about what form the historic commission should take.
A dozen Lower Shoreby Hill residents attended the meeting to voice their opinions about the proposed historic board. All in attendance were admittedly in favor of the creation of one.
However, the Town Council holds the power to make any decisions regarding the historic board. The council was scheduled to make a decision on the matter at its May 6 meeting.
After a lengthy discussion with Shoreby Hill residents, the planning board unanimously voted to send the draft recommendations to the Town Council for consideration.
The most important recommendation was that the Planning Commission be cast as the historic panel.
“Same people, ruling on different matters, at the same meeting,” said Swistak.