GROTON — The developer of an 84-unit, multi-use subdivision off Sandy Pond Road took another incremental but important step forward when members of the Planning Board voted to approve his landscaping plan.
“When you drive through, it will not look like anything else in town,” said attorney Robert Collins at a previous board meeting.
Collins represents Moulton Construction Co., the developer of the Rocky Hill subdivision. He attended last week’s public hearing with additions to a landscaping plan first submitted for the board’s approval on March 9.
The landscaping plan for the project would incorporate mature trees already existing on the property as well as those to be purchased by the developer from local nurseries, according to Collins. The attorney told the board that when completed, the landscape plan would include more trees than is called for in the special permit for the project.
Backing up Collins at last week’s meeting was landscape architect Lorraine Black, who devised the planting schedule. Black said it was her intention to liberally plant trees along the project’s interior roadways with plantings scattered singly or in clumps so as to present a more natural configuration and to screen homes from one another.
At the previous meeting, board member Joshua Degen was concerned that some of the trees chosen for the site would lose their lower branches as they matured and requested that different species be considered. Black returned last week with an alteration to her plan that substituted fir trees for simple pine.
Collins characterized the changes as simply augmenting the site.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the landscaping plan with the condition that any trees that did not take should be replaced by the developer.
Also last week, the board entertained a pre-submission review by developer Steve Gillis, of Topsfield.
Gillis said he would like to construct a combination retail/office building on a 45,000-square-foot lot at 536 Main St. immediately adjacent to land belonging to NEBS Corp.
The property was rezoned from residential to business last year with an affirmative vote by residents at town meeting.
According to his initial plan, Gillis said he would like to construct a two-story building with a combined floor space of 10,000 square feet and parking space on three sides for over 50 vehicles.
When completed, the developer suggested that a bank, among others, might be suited to the first floor retail area of the building.
Concerns raised by the board included the possibility of moving the building closer to the street and relocating most of the parking in the rear, screening against a nearby residence and the best location for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
Last week’s hearing concluded with Gillis expressing his willingness to work with the board’s landscape consultant on the property and to return at a future date with specific plans regarding the style of architecture for the proposed building.
Finally last week, the board voted 5-0 to accept a plan presented by Collins for landowner Richard Lewis to divide property he owns along Hoyts Wharf Road.
According to Collins, the property involves two lots each with existing homes. The problem is that the well for one of the homes is located on the lot of the other. In redrawing the boundaries of the two lots, the well would be relocated within the same lot as the house it serves.
The new boundaries would also allow the larger of the two lots to be further subdivided, creating a third lot that could be made suitable for possible development in the future. Currently unbuildable due to a lack of proper frontage, Collins said a possible third lot might be made useful if the owner could acquire a strip of land along the road that, when added to his own property, would meet the town’s requirement of 225 feet of frontage.
“Everything down in this neck of the woods is peculiar,” said Collins.