TOWNSEND — All roads for any new housing developments lead through Memorial Hall, starting with Office of Land Use Coordinator Kathy Araujo.
Araujo explained the process any developer must go through to construct a sub-division, no matter how big or small.
“Everything starts off in the land use office with the Planning Board being the approving body,” she said. “My job is to let the person know what they will need to get to the final stage.”
All developments, or subdivisions are very different, said Araujo. That is why she needs all the information up front.
“Developments are not cookie cutter-projects. Each one has their own individual personalities,” she said.
The way the system works, according to Araujo, is the developer purchases the land, then hires an engineer to create the proposed plans.
“There are preliminary reviews, and there is no limit on how many preliminaries a developer can have,” she said. “The preliminaries are just that, and the Planning Board meets to discuss and review (them).
After the preliminary reviews, Araujo said the developer creates the definitive plan, which includes a considerable amount of engineering.
“This is where the definitive plan is scrutinized and the public hearings come into play,” she said.
Public hearings are open for abutters, for proponents of the development to go before the planners and state their case.
In addition, applicants do not have to go before the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) unless the development is within 100 feet of a wetland, said Araujo.
If the commission is involved and the developer meets its requirements, its decision is filed with the Registry of Deeds.
“The developer gets a certificate of compliance from ConsCom. The area in question … must be seeded and re-growth must be happening. Once that is done, they get their certificate,” said Araujo.
Her main function is to field questions from residents and developers, and put the person on the informational trail they need to be on, she said.
“I basically keep the applicants and the boards informed with as much information as possible. The more information, the less chance for a continuance at the hearings. I pretty much help everyone get their ducks in a row.”
Regarding her time as the Land Use Coordinator, Araujo said, “I started three years ago the end of January, and it is a constant stream of information. It’s just a matter of gathering all the information (and passing it forward.”