Planning Board roundup: Plans discussed for historic home at 83 East Main; Frankland Road solar blackout plan approved

The house at 83 Main Street dates back to about 1875. FILE PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

At its meeting Monday night, the Planning Board opened a new public hearing on a mixed-use open space (OSMUD) at 83 East Main Street, noting concerns about how the three proposed age-restricted housing units fit into the historic single-family home that will be replicated on the site and fits in with the character of the neighborhood.

About half of the two-hour meeting was devoted to the proposal for the property by Chubb Road LLC. The site, which is part of the Village Center zoning area, is a small triangular lot at the corner of East Main Street and Legacy Farms Roads North (just west of Weston Nurseries).

Developer Roy MacDowell represented Legacy Farms during the site plan presentation. He referred to the historic landmark as “the old white house with the water-stained shutters.” Because the building and its foundation are in disrepair, he and the historical commission discussed that the developer would demolish the building and erect a replica on the exterior of the property “exactly as it is or was originally.” The historical commission wanted it to be built in the exact location of the current residence.

MacDowell added that the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a special permit to put the new house on the same site about a week ago despite a pre-existing condition that allowed the house to have inadequate frontage.

In addition to the replica house, the proposal included three age-restricted owner-occupied apartments for people aged 55 and over at the rear of the site. Each would have a two-car garage where trash would be stored in addition to vehicles.

Screening trees would line the back of the area. The condos would be a pearl gray with white trim, which would match other buildings in the area.

However, MacDowell said Phil Paradis, the city’s consultant from BETA Group, had “a long list” of concerns, some of which were addressed in the updated plans presented at the hearing. The new plans showed fire access to the site and there will be sprinklers inside the units.

“I think we covered all the points,” MacDowell said.

However, Paradis did not agree that BETA’s concerns were addressed. When he began to outline his problems with the plans, particularly stormwater management and lighting, Planning Board Chairman Gary Trendel stopped him because it appeared the number of questions required “homework for the applicant.”

Trendel suggested a site walk to get a better feel for the project, and board members agreed to attend on Aug. 20.

“It will help visualize how this fits into the larger landscape,” he said.

Board members raised concerns about parking, especially for visitors. While there are two spaces in each garage, McDowell said two cars could park in each driveway.

“It just doesn’t look right,” board member Rob Benson said of the plan

Added Trendel: “I’m struggling to see how some sort of random three-family structure fits in.”

MacDowell explained that the zoning allows for residential as well as commercial or office development. But the home made the most sense.

The board voted to continue the hearing until the Aug. 27 meeting, when the development team will provide updated plans and renderings.

Frankland Road solar blackout plan approved

The board unanimously approved a plan from Agilitas Energy for the shutdown plan for the solar development it recently purchased from Seaboard Solar.

Principal Planner John Gelcich explained that a decommissioning plan had previously been submitted by Seaboard before it sold the property. This plan was put on hold due to the transaction. Agilitas presented a revised decommissioning bond plan that the board had to consider so the city would be the recipient of the bond.

Mustafa Sezgin of Agilitas explained that the size of the bond value was changed from about $104,000 to $227,425, which includes a 10 percent contingency fee. The bond’s term is 25 years. The estimated cost to decommission the project is $476,177.45. There is also a 3 percent adjustment for inflation, which is standard practice.

Board member Fran DeYoung asked who would pick up the costs if the property was sold. Gelcich explained that the city would be the bond recipient. The contingency fee is built in in case the city needs to hire a third party to remove the solar array.

The board also unanimously approved two related project cost adjustments on the landscape and stormwater plans. The landscaping estimate was $149,980, which includes plants, maintenance and water. The work must be completed in three months.

The stormwater management bond would be $16,875 for maintenance. The construction infrastructure cost would be $967,000.

Eversource LNG update OK’d

The board unanimously approved minor changes it determined were insignificant to a stormwater management plan for Eversource’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at 52 Wilson Street. Tim Grace represented the advocate for “a minor change” to landscaping previously proposed. The landscaping would be moved about 20 feet away from the fence “primarily for safety and access.”

“With landscaping so close to the fence, the fear is always that someone can climb that landscaping and use it to gain access to the facility,” Grace said.

Some previously proposed landscaping on the street side of the fence is already protected by arbor vitae and was deemed unnecessary. On the other hand, it is proposed that the landscaping be moved forward to allow for topsoil and seeding. Trees would replace the current scrub growth. This would benefit the project from a stormwater management perspective, Grace noted. The work will mainly be carried out behind the scale house.

Paul resigns his position

Longtime planning board member Dave Paul resigned from the board as he is moving out of town, Trendel announced.

“He’s been one of our oldest members of the board,” Trendel said. “I always appreciate his honesty and his integrity. I’m grateful we had his engagement as long as we did.”

This creates a vacancy on the board, which was posted Tuesday on the city’s website.

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