AYER — Diverse topics were discussed at the most recent meeting of planners ranging from building plans to the soon-to-expire rate of development bylaw.
A debate took place over the current status and purpose of the town’s rate of development bylaw, which will expire this week. Local resident Michael Pattenden waited until the end of the meeting to voice his concerns to the board.
“My understanding of article 9, which was the existing rate of development bylaw, is it originally expired on June 1, 2004 and was re-written to December 10 of 2005. I have been told that the purpose of this increase was so that the Planning Board could prepare a new rate of development bylaw,” said Pattenden.
Chairman William Oelfke said, “There was another party that stated that they were going to be doing this for the planning board to review, and that was never done.”
Board member James Lucchesi said the Planning Board had originally left it in the hands of a group of residents that stated on the floor of the previous town meeting that they were currently writing a new bylaw that would pass muster with the attorney general.
Pattenden asked if it was the responsibility of the board to either write a new bylaw or to declare their intent to allow it to expire.
The bylaw needs a sunset provision to pass, said Lucchesi. Without one, such a law would restrict or prevent development indefinitely.
Pattenden asked to continue the discussion during the Jan. 12 meeting, which was granted.
He brought a draft of a growth bylaw that was passed in Shirley. He is seeking 100 signatures of Ayer voters for a petition to hold a special town meeting to address the bylaw.
The board met with Stephen Mullaney, site engineer representing Kannaird housing development, which is proposing a subdivision at Sandy Pond Road. Mullaney presented a revised site plan because the developer had decided to make extensive changes since they last one presented to the board.
“At the last meeting we presented a concept cluster subdivision for a total of 18 units,” began Mullaney. “When we looked further into applying the cluster regulations and we looked into the other zoning requirements the general bylaw has some provisions regarding minimum and maximum driveway widths. When you put all of those together, along with the subdivision regulations that would still be in effect, we found the plan was just unworkable.
Board member Elizabeth Hughes expressed concerns about the visual impact of the development’s drainage, which would be located within a turn-around circle at the end of the subdivision.
Mullaney said because of the sandy soil present, Kannaird intends to put a leeching pit beneath the circle. That would leave the ground there level so that it could be a community-gathering center.
Hughes said that one of the lots nearest the street as presented on the site map brought by Mullaney was particularly small for the house that was to be built on it.
Mullaney explained this was because there was already an old house on the lot, which was going to be torn down to make space for a new one.
The board did not take a vote on this plan as it was not yet complete. The developer requested the meeting to make the board aware of the changes and obtain input before finalizing a site design.
The board next met with a representative of the developer of Sandy Pond Estates, a separate but nearby subdivision, on a bond release request to allow construction to begin on four of the lots within the subdivision, for which the roads and utilities have been completed.
Oelfke expressed concern because the road and utilities for the entire subdivision have not been completed.
“We normally have the road all the way installed, and then you can come back and ask for specific lot releases,” Oelfke said. “We’ve had issues in town in previous years that we’d approve just up to the house and then you guys walk away. What we normally ask for, and, we thought we did on this one and every one that I’ve been on in the last 10 years, is that the entire roadway be done.
“It’s been town practice for the past 10 years I’ve been on the board not to do that,” said Oelfke, “because I know we got burned years ago in one developer, which will remain nameless, that walked away after they got to a certain point and we had to wait three years for a new developer to buy it and continue it.”
Board member Patricia Walsh said, “There should be more information coming from them as to where they are and how much more they have to do in the process before decisions are made.”
Lucchesi stated that they could approve the lot release with the condition that no occupancy permits would be granted until the road is complete.
The board voted 4-to-1 to approve the request, with Walsh voting against it, her concern that they did not have enough information. The developer also agreed to concede in writing that no further lots within the subdivision would be released until to road was completed.
The board later met with Paul Alphin, an attorney representing the builder of the Pond View Acres located on Westford Road. Alphin was seeking a bond release to allow construction to begin on the site. But unlike the previous developer did not have the same issues involving incomplete road and utilities construction.
This meeting was a continuation of a previous hearing, and the board discussed and voted upon several agreements including a revised covenant, tri-party agreement and a lot release to begin construction. The vote on all of these items was 4-to-1 in favor, with Walsh voting against over safety concerns with access roads.
The board met with two business owners who made change of use requests for their respective properties.
The first one, Calvin Moore, was uncertain if he needed to make such a request for a restaurant. The board said a hearing was unnecessary.
Mark Seger requested a change of use for 89 Central Ave. The lot was being used as residential, but was zoned as light industrial. The board did not have a problem with his plans to convert it for use as a garage and storage, and discussed the steps he would have to take to do so.
Meetings postponed or extended to Jan. 12 included appointments with the Riley Pond subdivision developer, Gervais Ford and Bill Mason, an electrician who wants to build an extension onto his business located at 1 Bishop Road.