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Scituate Zoning Board of Appeals, November 29, 2006
Scituate Zoning Board of Appeals
November 29, 2006
OTHERS: Neil Duggan, Building Commissioner/Zoning Enforcement Officer.
MEETING CALLED TO ORDER:
Meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Herring Brook Meadow, LLC of 265 Newbury Street, Peabody, MA 01960 applies pursuant to General Laws, Chapter 40B, Section 20 through 23, as amended, for the issuance of a Comprehensive Permit authorizing the applicant to construct 60 condominium units to be called “Herring Brook Meadow” on land located at 126-132 Chief Justice Cushing Highway in Scituate.
Janet Stearns from Stockard, Engler and Brigham, LLC represented the applicant.
Jeffrey Couture, Rodrick Gaskell and Alexander Trakimas from SITEC Environmental were present.
John Danehey read the application into the record. He said he would try having the next meeting televised for the people to watch at home.
J. Danehey addressed the site control issue. He wanted evidence that the applicant had control of the entire site including both parcels.
B. Sullivan- requested a copy of the Purchase and Sale for 126 Chief Justice Cushing.
Janet Stearns- believed they could prove site control and said she would resolve this issue at the next hearing. She explained they were filing under the New England Fund and also had received a letter from Mass Housing. The applicants have been working on the project for several years. She said the buildings would be clustered on the section of four acres and they were proposing to donate a portion of the site to the town to be used for open space.
Albert Bangert- asked for clarification of the acreage on the site.
J. Stearns- explained they were working with less than 17 acres. They originally thought it was more like 17 acres but then after revaluating they feel it’s around 15 acres. She felt they were past the preliminary stages of their presentation.
Gloria Hollstein of 11 Martha’s Lane – wanted clarification on the Mass Housing Permitting process and felt if they could not prove site control over the whole proposed area then the Board should not continue the hearing process; she also felt if the acreage changed than their permit from Mass Housing may be invalid.
J. Stearns- said they have satisfied Mass Housing regarding the acreage.
Tony Vegnani of 98 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- felt the applicant should establish site control or the meeting should not continue.
J. Danehey- felt the applicant had established control of at least 15 acres on the site. He stated the hearing would proceed.
Gloria Hollstein- said the applicants would need control of both parcels to construct the proposed septic systems and without it, she felt they could not do the project.
J. Danehey- explained how the appeals process worked if the abutters were unhappy with the Board’s decision and said that the Board needed to work with the applicant to get the best result for the Town.
Janet Stearns introduced Rodrick Gaskell from SITEC who gave a power point presentation on the engineering aspects.
Rodrick Gaskell- gave his qualifications. He explained the project would include a 60-unit condominium project, which would include five buildings, 53 two bedrooms and seven three bedrooms. Fifteen of the units would be affordable. The site consisted of 15.34 acres. Ten percent of the upland consisted of meadows and a maritime forest that would be deeded to the town. Four point five acres would consist of a conservation easement and 34 percent would be salt marsh and part of the Herring Brook.
Mr. Gaskell explained the marsh consisted of a coastal tidal marsh and the salt marsh was a result of tidal action; this did have consequences with regulatory requirements, and specifically the way it floods. The ocean side of the abandoned railroad embankment was in FEMA’S Velocity Zone, which would not affect the project. The proposed building site was located in FEMA’S A Zone at Elevation 11, which was the hundred-year flood zone. He explained this would be storm surge, which influences the extent of the flooding in the area. He explained flooding on the proposed site consisted of frequent flooding of fresh water and less frequent flooding of coastal saltwater storm surges. Mr. Gaskell said the northern boundary of property, which had a gravel road, would be deeded to the town. The southeast view showed cornfields and to the east of that was a maritime forest, which would also be deeded to the town. He explained there would also be a conservation easement on the property.
Deirdre Hoffman of 109 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- wanted to know the date and time of when the pictures presented by the applicant were taken.
R. Gaskell- answered they were taken in the month of August and explained they did not show the tidal influence in the area.
Gloria Hollstein- asked if she could present pictures of the area to the Board.
J. Danehey- said he would allow it at a later time.
A. Bangert- asked if the gravel path was a public way.
R. Gaskell- said the Conservation Department claimed they had an easement right but he did not verify this independently.
Marsha Klein of 146 Cushing Way- asked if the path was on the northerly side. She said she owned the land but the town did have the right to use it.
James Duane of 160 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- stated he had pictures that showed a gate that had been closed and blocking public access for years.
Existing Site Condition:
Mr. Gaskell- explained after they surveyed the property the applicant went to the Conservation Commission to file an Abbreviation Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) to establish the complicated resources. They have gone through the process and the Town did hire their own consultant, Boston Survey Company. The Town did have a finding and requested some adjustments. With respect to the hundred year floods, he stated that the land does flood and they were not denying that, but he felt it did not flood enough to change the habitat of the property.
Kathy Donahue of 4 Cushing Landing- wanted to know if the plowing of the land affected the wetlands species vegetation.
R. Gaskell- explained they studied the wetlands and treated it as an isolated piece of land subject to flooding. The base plan was tied to the elevation of the hundred-year flood zone and the velocity zone was stifled by the abandoned railroad embankment and would not reach the location where the dwellings would be located. They choose Evaluation Seven, which was the physical limit of that sites particular storm surge.
Robert Kingsland of 21 Martha’s Lane- wanted to know if they determined the delineation of the wetlands site in conjunction with the Town’s Conservation Commission. He specifically wanted to know if the Chairman of the Conservation Commission was involved with this determination.
Several audience members corrected Mr. Kingsland that he was talking about the Conservation Agent not the Commission’s Chairman.
R. Gaskell- said he had no knowledge of the Agents involvement with this site.
J. Danehey- asked if the Conservation Commission held public hearings on the ANRAD filings.
R. Gaskell- said they had many hearings and the neighbors were notified. He said the Order of Resource Area of Delineation (ORAD) filings opened on November 16, 2004
Deirdre Hoffman of 109 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- wanted to clarify that Vinny Kalishes was the Conservation Agent and that was whom the audience members kept referring too.
Kathy Donahue- asked for clarification of Mr. Kalishes involvement with the project.
R. Gaskell- explained that Mr. Kalishes recused himself during the process of the filings.
Janet Stearns- said she was willing to corporate with the Town but was not there to talk about any individual’s involved with the project. She felt if there was an issue within the Town it was the Town’s business to address it.
Michael Clark, Vice Chair of the Conservation Commission- gave clarification of the situation. He explained that Mr. Kalishes did have a financial interest in the project but he recused himself from the Public Hearings held by the Conservation Commission and also sought advice from the Ethics Committee. The Conservation Commission did issue an order, which would expire after three years. He stated the Commission would also be holding hearings on December 11th to discuss the Notice of Intent that the applicant had filed recently. Mr. Clark stated that Mr. Kalishes had notified the Board of Selectman, Conservation Commission and the Ethics Committee via a letter about his involvement.
Gloria Hollstein- asked when the letters were sent out.
Edward Hanafin of 2 Cushing Landing- asked Mr. Clark if he stated that Kalishes recused himself because he had a financial interest in the project.
M. Clark answered that Mr. Kalishas was a property owner like everyone else down there.
Lawerence Kahrs of 32 Neal Gate Street- asked if the North River boundaries were within the property.
R. Gaskill- answered that the North River was within the 300- foot corridor on the plan and also shown on the maps but the standard was 300-feet to the mean high water mark, which was typically to the edge of the marsh. He also talked about the 200-foot riverfront, he said they could use up to ten percent of the river front area but would prefer not to.
Albert Bangert- asked about the three hundred foot scenic route.
R. Gaskill- said they could include the North River plate if the Board wanted to. He explained that everything seaward was within the corridor. He talked about the Riverfront area, which would need to be approved by the Conservation Commission. He explained they could build residential buildings within the North River corridor if they stayed within 300-feet.
Brian Sullivan- wanted to know the amount of buildable land the applicant had, by right, on the site under the Town level not the State level.
R. Gaskell- answered seven acres.
B. Sullivan- wanted to know what portion of the seven acres would they be seeking waivers for from the Town not under the State Regulations.
R. Gaskell- said they could use up to seven acres but without the Comprehensive Permit under Chapter 40B they could only build a few single-family homes on the site. He said they would also be filing under the State’s Wetlands Protection Act.
Werner Boehl of 15 Martha’s Lane- talked about a dock and boats on the easterly side of the railroad bed.
Audience member Fred who lived in the Town of Norwell- said he owned the docks but said it was not part of the proposed site. He explained that he also had rights to the easement that was the gravel road.
Russell Lannon of 133 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- had concerns that the applicant may be building in the Federal Flood Plain and wanted to know if this was allowed.
R. Gaskell- explained that the proposed units would be located in FEMA’s A-Zone and not in the Velocity Zone. They would be changing the shape of the upland by filling it in, which they have the right to do under the State Building Code. They were proposing asphalt surfaces for walking and there would be using deep sump catch basins for storm drainage.
R. Gaskell- explained that the 100-year flood zone had a direct tie to the Atlantic Ocean and the opening was sufficient enough to the make the flow continuous.
B. Sullivan- asked if the wall created by the fill would displace water during storms onto abutting properties.
R. Gaskill- felt if they raised the elevation it would not have an affect on lateral properties.
Kathy Donahue of 4 Cushing Landing- felt because of the configuration of the mouth of the river the storm water could not escape.
J. Danehey- said the town would be hiring consultants to address those issues.
R. Gaskell- explained that the discharge from the drainage would enter back into the ground water. There would be a septic treatment center located onsite and the applicant was currently in the process of working with DEP regarding the treatment center.
A. Bangert- wanted clarification of the development envelope.
R. Gaskell- said that 10 percent of the current site was occupied by impervious surfaces. After the proposed development was completed it would become more like 60 percent of impervious surfaces.
J. Danehey- wanted to know how the eight to six-foot drop caused by the fill on the easterly and southerly side would be handled. He also asked if they had submitted perk data.
R. Gaskell- explained they would create a grass berm. He said they had submitted perk data to the Board of Health but not the Zoning Board, but he would supply that information at the next meeting.
Mr. Gaskell said the project would have two parking spaces per unit with a total of 120 spaces within the entire project. They were proposing to plant 600 plantings within the landscaping areas. There would be 6-foot high trees along the property line nearest to the highway for screening and the buildings would be tilted away from the street. They would entertain a trade off, if the town would like to move the project towards the road in order to preserve more open space. He suggested the Town should designate an entity that would negotiate the use of the open space. Mr. Gaskell stated the applicant would be gifting back land to the Town, but were not proposing the bridge that was currently on the maps.
Tony Vegnani of 98 Chief Justice Cushing Highway- felt it was more like 80 percent impervious surfaces on the plans rather than 60 percent Mr. Gaskell stated earlier.
A. Bangert- wanted to know where the outdoor amenities would be located.
R. Gaskell- explained there would be 4.5 acres of open space and they would welcome the Town’s input on where the amenities should go.
Samantha Woods- director of The North and South River Commission asked if there were any vernal pools located on the site.
R. Gaskell- stated the ANRAD filing proved there were no a vernal pools. He said they would not be applying to the North and South River Commission because he felt they were far enough away.
Samantha Woods- asked about wastewater treatment center runoff.
R. Gaskell- explained they were at Elevation 22 near the wastewater treatment center.
John Danehey- stated the Board would hear the presentation from the architect and traffic study at the next hearing. He said that he would like to see more three-bedroom homes rather than two bedrooms. He had concerns with parking and would like a route for school buses addressed. He wasn’t happy with the location of the garbage stalls near the existing abutters on North and South sides of the property. He also wanted to know the location of the affordable units and he would like to see local preference for the these units. Mr. Danehey wanted the vernal pool issues address, as well as the chemical building and traffic study. He also stated he would like to see the density of the project reduced and the buildings spread out over the parcel.
Agnes Rona- had concerns with public easements, flooding and family housing. She would also like to see the density reduced.
Albert Bangert- also had concerns with density. He requested a written response to the comments from the other Town Departments.
Brian Sullivan- stated he did not like the design at all. He would like to see the language from LLC and also the proforma. He requested the cv from the developer’s attorney and also for the developer himself. Mr. Sullivan requested the traffic report and the train traffic impact and accident studies. He also took issue with the dumpster relocations. He requested three quotes for the cost to build the bridge. He stated he would not vote to waive the height requirement, setback requirements, waiver for the parker lot and for water use and conservation aspects. He requested the applicant provide a plan on where they could actually build on the lot and not just where they would like to build. Mr. Sullivan also addressed the letter dated November 28, 2006 written by Neil Duggan (see file) regarding the condition of the current property, he requested the applicant cleanup the site.
Neil Duggan- addressed his letter. He stated he could not locate the individual responsible for the property, so he addressed the letter “To Whom It May Concern” at Herring Brook Meadow, LLC.
J. Stearns- stated she would be responding to Mr. Duggan’s letter and also said she would be the go to person regarding the property.
N. Duggan- discussed the Notice of Intent filed by the applicant and wanted to determine if the application was going to be reviewed under local wetlands regulations.
R. Gaskill stated it was not going to be reviewed under local regs.
J. Stearns- stated that they were going to file under the State Wetlands Protection Act. They would not be filing under local wetlands regulations because they weren’t doing anything that did not comply with local regulations, therefore they did not need to seek local waivers, but she would inform the Board if that changed.
N. Duggan- questioned why then were they requesting an exemption from local wetland regulations in their application.
J. Danehey requested a retainer of $25,000.00 be deposited into a peer review account to pay for the Town’s consultants and attorney’s fees.
J. Stearns- Stated she may debate the applicant’s requirement to pay the Town’s attorney’s fee. She requested from the Town a scope of the consultants and attorney’s fees.
Danehey moved to request that the applicant provide a retainer of $25,000. 00 for peer review and that the Board would provide a scope of consultant and legal costs, seconded by Bangert, all in favor, unanimous.
Frank from the audience- spoke of the village overlay business district, he had concerns that the town voted this in to avoid larger projects like this one.
J. Danehey- felt the route for the Town was to provide more affordable housing to avoid large-scale projects.
Gloria Hollstein- showed the Board photos of storm flooding on the site.
Sullivan moved to continue the hearing to January 3, 2006, seconded by Bangert, all in favor, unanimous.
Danehey moved to adjourn the hearing at 9:35 P.M., seconded by Bangert, all in favor, unanimous.
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