PEPPERELL — Lowell Place Realty Trust has been awarded a Chapter 40B comprehensive permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to construct four single-family homes at 131 Lowell Road.
The permit was awarded at a public hearing that had convened on Dec. 31, 2004 and was concluded Tuesday night.
Melissa Robbins, attorney for trustee Dennis Page, described this final plan as an “exciting, nice plan” that “opens up” the 42,000 square foot site and covers questions raised by the closest abutters when the original eight townhouse plan was under heated objection.
The ZBA’s 40B consultant John Bowman had said the first plan, which would have added two affordable housing units, “somewhat abused” the principles of the legislation with buildings that were non-compatible “pushed density.”
At half the original size, the four single-family, three bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, 1,700 square foot houses on the new plan are a “great improvement,” Bowman said. “Incremental 40B improvement is not something to be ashamed of if executed properly,” he added.
One of the four houses will be affordable to a family that earns up to 80 percent of median income. The other three will be sold at market value. Externally there is no difference in appearance, but internal options are limited on the affordable home.
Some issues still bothered abutters, however; maintenance of side and rear lot buffer zones formed by existing trees, landscaping, and fencing the perimeter of the lot.
Town counsel Ned Richardson suggested letting the housing market drive the type of landscaping used for the non-affordable houses and requiring the affordable home’s landscaping match it.
Robbins said all the houses will be landscaped in the same way and that as many trees as possible will be retained.
“There are three market units in a village setting,” she said. “It won’t just be hydroseeded.” She promised that, if needed, evergreens and other trees will be planted. The rear portion of the lot will retain natural screening.
Abutter Jennifer Walsdorf asked that the stockade fence that defines part of the side lot be carried all the way around the rear portion.
The existing 6 foot high stockade fence is privately owned and is the owner’s responsibility to maintain, Robbins said. She promised to extend the fences rearward as far as the buffer around wetlands at the back of the lot will allow. She said Page will repair the existing fences.
Richardson, answering a concern about who would maintain the wetlands, said that is up to the Conservation Commission and police.
“There is no policing today,” ZBA member Christine Morrissey said. “The onus will be on you to maintain your fence.”
Member Sherrill Rosoff said, “I appreciate the good faith statement to save as many trees as possible.”
“We agreed to do everything the town boards have asked for,” Robbins said. “The biggest concern from the Highway Department is opening up Lowell Road [to add a water and sewer connection] because paving is being done. We will get a pipe in the road prior to anything else.”
She said Page has a right of way across a triangle of town land that remains from a plan to relocate the road drawn in the 1940s or ‘50s.
The project’s one affordable housing unit will be added to the town’s stock of 117. Four years from now, 40 of them — rental units at Pepperell Meadows — are no longer required to be affordable. Another seven, privately owned houses at Mayfield Park, will be in the same category by 2029.
The town needs to build 29 affordable housing units per year to meet its quota mandated by Chapter 40B.