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GROTON — Concerned about its impact on abutters, members of the Planning Board were reluctant to grant a request by the developer of the Monarch Path subdivision to expand blasting operations at the construction site without strict conditions.

Developer Ebrahim Masaleh approached the board at its Oct. 7 meeting seeking a number of modifications to the special permit approved for Monarch Path two years ago, covering landscaping and the renaming of a street within the subdivision.

But the change in the special permit approved for the project that drew the lion’s share of attention last week concerned blasting.

According to Masaleh, the additional blasting at the construction site was necessary because more fill than expected was needed to help bring a few of the house lots up to grade.

In the previously approved site plan, Masaleh was allowed to blast ledge known to exist on the property and crush up to 1,800 cubic yards of the resulting debris for re-use in grading house lots.

But since the site plan was approved, it was estimated that another 2,200 cubic yards of fill was needed if all the house lots were to be developed properly.

Masaleh’s engineer told board members last week that it was his guess that between seven and 10 days would be needed for the blasting, with an additional three days to complete the rock-crushing.

The alternative, said Masaleh, was to have the needed fill brought in by truck, which would necessitate between 200 and 400 trips through the neighborhood, a situation that he said would be much more disturbing for abutters and wearing on town roadways than a few days of rock-crushing.

However, the noise associated with blasting, drilling, and most of all rock-crushing, is necessarily loud. In a letter read at last week’s meeting, at least one neighbor expressed such distress over the expansion of work that they requested enough notice before work began to leave their home for the duration.

Unhappy with the request, board member Timothy Hess wondered how Masaleh could allow himself to get into a situation where the calculations for needed fill could end up so far wrong. Maybe, Hess, suggested, not all the project’s lots needed to be developed.

“To me, it comes down to what makes the least impact on abutters,” said Chairman Ray Capes.

Unfriendly to the idea of more blasting, board member Scott Wilson leaned toward the idea of trucking in the needed fill. “The land is only going to give you so much.”

In his defense, Masaleh claimed that the neighbors who were now complaining about the noise were the same who begged him to buy the property years before in order to keep it out of the hands of a developer who planned to file for a comprehensive permit and build in accordance with the state’s Chapter 40B rules for affordable housing.

In a straw poll, most members of the board agreed to go along with Masaleh’s request, but only under strict conditions, including a limit on hours and days that blasting and crushing could take place; that a contact person be on site at all times with a cell phone connection direct to the town’s planning office; that a blasting plan be submitted and that abutters be notified of operations.

Also considered last week were two other modifications to Masaleh’s site plan: Landscaping changes at the end of a cul-de-sac which were approved by the DPW and a change in name for the cul-de-sac from Monarch Path to Noble Path in order to reduce possible confusion in case of a fire or police emergency.

The three modifications were taken under advisement and are likely to be voted upon with conditions at a future board meeting.

The Monarch Path project, on a 31-acre site, consists of completed roadways and related infrastructure but with none of its planned 13 homes built yet.

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