TOWN OF PELHAM
PLANNING BOARD MEETING
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
The Clerk called the roll:
PRESENT: Jeff Gowan, Clark Harris, John CaraDonna, Alternate Henry DeLuca, Selectmen’s Representative Greg Farris
ABSENT: Paddy Culbert, Roger Montbleau, Michael Soby, Alternate Carl Huether, Planning Director Vincent Messina
The Chairman announced that Mr. DeLuca would be voting for Mr. Culbert.
Mr. Gowan read aloud a letter of resignation received from board member Roger Montbleau.
MOTION: (CaraDonna/DeLuca) To accept the minutes of the October 4, 1999 board meeting as read.
VOTE: 5 – 0 – 0 The motion carries.
Mr. Harris read aloud the proposed change to the Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land - Chapter 260, Section XII, Paragraph F – Drainage; Subparagraph f. – Curbing:
“Curbing is required lining for both sides of all streets where grades are in excess of four percent (4%), and the roadway is to conform to the town’s typical cross section with curb.”
Mr. Harris stated that the revised typical cross section has yet to be received by Mr. Messina for incorporation into the subdivision regulations.
MOTION: (Harris/CaraDonna) To approve the change to the language as currently worded regarding curbing to “Curbing is required lining for both sides of all streets where grades are in excess of four percent (4%), and the roadway is to conform to the town’s typical cross section with curb.”
VOTE: 5 – 0 – 0 The motion carries.
DISCUSSION – Cul de Sacs
Mr. Gowan feels that it is time for the board to proceed with their discussion on cul de sacs and decide which is the best direction to go with the current regulations.
Mr. Farris asked if the 840 ft. maximum takes into consideration potential cul de sacs off of the existing cul de sac. If the board allows this, they will continue with the “spider web” effect of cul de sacs. If the length is extended to allow a developer his ten lots, it will also allow for multiple cul de sacs off of the main cul de sac. Mr. Farris feels that the board needs to try to get a development to “loop around” and allow for at least two accesses. Mr. Harris explained that the regulations state that a developer cannot construct intersections within so many feet of each other. Mr. Farris stressed the need for “creativity” in the development and planning of future subdivisions. Mr. Harris stated that it is up to the board to review the plans as they come before them.
Mr. Gowan agrees with Mr. Farris and is also not an advocate of “cascading cul de sacs”. Mr. CaraDonna stated that the board needs to determine whether or not they will continue to allow “cascading cul de sacs” to occur. He suggested that the board agree on a figure that will be reasonable – possibly something less than 840 ft. Mr. CaraDonna referred to Page 14 of the Subdivision Regulations – Section XII – Design Standards – A. Streets 1. Location and read aloud as follows:
“d. Streets that cannot be extended and will be permanently terminated will not have a greater centerline length than 560 feet prior to the beginning of the termination.”
He explained that this means if a cul de sac is permanent, it cannot be greater than 560 ft. However, if a right of way is shown, it can be greater. Mr. Farris pointed out that a waiver would be necessary.
Mr. Gowan stated that the board must base any change to the language on sound reasoning. He believes that this language “flies in the face” of the Master Plan which calls out for connecting roads whenever possible. The board needs to find a way to balance this issue. Mr. CaraDonna stated that if the board sets a specific limit, the developer can always request a waiver. Mr. Harris disagreed and explained that if there is criteria for limits between a maximum and minimum, it cannot be waived. This is similar to the intersection grades regulation.
Mr. Farris referred to the towns of Dracut and Tyngsboro where the 500 ft. limit is strictly enforced with no waivers. He feels that there must be a balance in order to allow for “creative” long term development. Mr. Farris feels that Pelham’s regulations currently allow for very long cul de sacs with no way out.
Mr. Gowan believes that the board needs to tighten up the regulations but they must be able to base these decisions in fact. Mr. Farris stated that the Master Plan, which is utilized as a guideline for planning, refers to the protection of the way of life throughout the document. He questioned how the granting of waivers would effect this protection. Mr. Gowan stated that the Master Plan also calls out for connecting roads and that could mean disruption of a way of life on an existing cul de sac.
Mr. Harris stated that the board cannot deny access to abutting parcels with permanent cul de sacs. Mr. Farris stated that the board has allowed 2,000 ft. cul de sacs on the “potential” that a piece of land may be developed. He feels that the owners of the abutting parcels need to be contacted prior to the development. Mr. Farris stated that the board continues to create “over extended” cul de sacs that lead to nowhere.
Mr. CaraDonna feels that there have been a few subdivision plans before the board that are way outside of the regulation. He referred to the extension off of Shelly Drive and Irene Drive. Mr. CaraDonna stated that there is a potential for a connecting road off of Irene Drive but Buonarosa Drive is “done”.
Mr. Harris stated that he drafted language in August that set a limit of 760 ft. and being waivered to a maximum of 800 ft. allows you 40 ft. in length. This is more conducive to rectangular lots. Mr. Farris stated that the longer the road is extended, the greater the change of having cul de sacs off of cul de sacs.
Mr. Harris explained that the limitation would apply to permanent cul de sacs only because the board cannot deny access. Mr. Farris stated that the board does not have to allow an applicant to develop to the end of his property. Mr. Harris explained that if the applicant develops around the permanent cul de sac, the board has created a “reservation strip” that denies access. Mr. Farris stated that if a developer establishes a 50 ft. right of way off of the cul de sac, he can return to the board to develop further. Mr. Harris explained that the developer will have to connect if he is going to utilize the frontage. Mr. CaraDonna stated that with today’s regulations, this would be waived. Mr. Harris referred to Wyndridge Estates off of Bowley Road and the cascading cul de sac situation that has occurred there. There was no way that the board could deny the access. This parcel has the potential to be connected to another town road.
Mr. Farris asked how the board can encourage a developer to loop these roads around rather than create more cul de sacs. Mr. Harris referred to Shannon Circle off of Jericho Road. It is beneficial for the developer to create a “P” or “Q” shape that will gain road frontage for more lots.
Mr. Gowan stated that if the language is properly written, the board can force creativity on the developers. He understands that the more narrow pieces of property will be difficult to create loops on. Mr. CaraDonna referred to Evergreen Estates off of Route 38 and pointed out that this very long roadway goes right up to the wetlands and ends in a cul de sac. He questioned if this is how the board wants to continue to plan the town.
Mr. Gowan suggested that the board members try to merge specific language to the wording that Mr. Harris has presented and work on it again at the next planning session. Mr. Farris questioned whether the board wants to set this language up so that there are no waivers. They could insert a minimum and maximum figure to avoid the requests for waivers. Mr. Gowan stated that this way, a waiver could still be granted, but only to the maximum figure established. Mr. Harris stated that it must apply only to permanent cul de sacs because the board cannot restrict access to future development. Mr. Farris asked what the point of the restriction is if the board is going to allow cul de sacs of a greater distance. Mr. Harris stated that a developer would be held at 560 ft. if a 50 ft. right of way is not provided to the next parcel.
Mr. Gowan feels that the minimum should be left at 560 ft. with a maximum of 800 ft. Mr. Farris stated that with a permanent cul de sac, a developer could get ten lots.
Mr. Farris suggested that the board create language that will not only protect the town but will also be fair and equitable to the developer. He feels that the onus is on the developer to be creative with the layout of the plan. Mr. Farris expressed concern for protecting way of life in local neighborhoods.
Mr. Gowan stated that the Master Plan calls out for connecting roads. This document will be reviewed this year for updates. Mr. Gowan stressed the importance of the Planning Board conducting lengthy discussions about this issue prior to any rewrites of the Master Plan.
Mr. Farris asked if the proposed language states that a cul de sac cannot be extended unless it interconnects, will it allow the board any flexibility. Mr. Gowan stated that a potential property owner must thoroughly research the lot prior to purchase. Mr. Farris believes that the board must have the option of controlling any connections to surrounding towns. Mr. Gowan stated that the board must research whether or not they can say no to a connecting road.
Mr. Gowan requested that Mr. Harris and Mr. CaraDonna pull this language together and submit it for review and discussion at the next work session.
Mr. Harris explained that he would submit language that provides a minimum length of 560 ft. and a maximum length of 800 ft. for a permanent cul de sac. There will be no further extension beyond 800 ft. unless there is a connecting road. Mr. CaraDonna requested that cascading cul de sacs also be addressed in the language. Mr. Farris stated that with this parameter set, a developer would be forced to be creative.
Mr. CaraDonna requested that side setbacks, minimum water requirements and work within the WCD be discussed at the next work session.
MOTION: (DeLuca/Harris) To adjourn the meeting.
VOTE: 5 – 0 – 0 The motion carries.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm.
Susan J. Tesch