By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — While plans for a new proposed subdivision off of Lowell Street subdivision are still being finalized and reviewed, several abutters have concerns about the project’s impact on the area’s natural landscape.
Lowell Street resident Linda Vallis has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with developer Paul Caggiano for 109 Lowell St. The plan calls for Vallis retaining lots one and two, while Caggiano will be developing the remaining five lots for a new subdivision called Vallis Way.
The 109 Lowell St. property encompasses seven lots on 11.5 acres. Five of the lots are located in a Single Residence C Zoning District while the remaining two are located in a Single Residence D Zoning District. A preliminary plan was submitted to the Planning Board for feedback last fall, but it was withdrawn because the development team preferred proceeding with a definitive plan.
The development team submitted the definitive plan to the Planning Board this spring, and Linden Engineering Senior Partner Bill Jones is currently undertaking a peer review for the subdivision. Town Engineer Charlie Richter is also reviewing the subdivision’s plans.
Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori said in an interview with the Villager that the peer review being undertaken seeks to make sure that the five-lot subdivision is in compliance with the town’s regulations, zoning compliance and the Stormwater Management Bylaw.
“All subdivisions in Lynnfield go through a peer review,” said Cademartori.
Atty. Jay Kimball asked the Planning Board during a recent meeting if the board was open to granting a waiver that would eliminate the 500-foot roadway requirement. He also asked if the board supported Caggiano’s request to eliminate the stub that would be located at the end of the proposed subdivision’s cul-de-sac. Stubs allow roads to be extended into adjacent land.
In response to a question from Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville, Cademartori said the road’s total length has yet to be determined.
Planning Board member Ed Champy said eliminating the stub and shortening the road improves the project. He said Lot 5 could be improved because that proposed lot currently has a pork chop-shaped configuration due to a wooded hill being located on the parcel of land. Building Inspector Joseph O’Callaghan noted in a memo sent to the Planning Board that Lot 5 “does meet zoning compliance.”
“Without drilling, the developer won’t know what is under the hill on Lot 5,” said Champy. “There are neighbors to the south and east, and there are fairly large berms between those properties. It’s not an elongated hill, and it’s more like a hump. I think perching a house on it would be a mistake. From a developer’s perspective, I think there is an opportunity to make it a better lot and appease the neighbors.”
Charville recalled that he and the other Planning Board members recently went on a site visit of the property. He said the site visit revealed that most of the land is flat while Lot 5 is “the outlier.”
Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Kate Flaws said she would be in favor of granting the road length waiver if the development team scrapped plans for developing Lot 5. She said the wooded hill should be protected.
“I think a conservation restriction should be placed on that hill,” said Flaws.
Kimball was not in favor of Flaws’ proposal.
“I think that is asking a lot of the developer,” said Kimball. “I know that Lot 5 is not an attractive lot. But with the intersection with Lowell Street and the layout of the road, I have been told it is pretty much unavoidable.”
In response to a question from Planning Board member Page Wilkins, Caggiano said a home is not going to be built on top of the hill.
“Eliminating Lot 5 changes the economics of the deal,” said Caggiano. “There is a buildable lot there and the plan is to make it more attractive and more palatable for the customer.”
Flaws said removing the hill will be a “dramatic change” for the proposed subdivision’s abutters.
Planning Board member Amy MacNulty said 109 Lowell St. contains a wide variety of trees that should be protected.
“It would be a shame for those trees to be clear-cut,” said MacNulty.
If October Town Meeting approves the revised Tree Preservation Bylaw, Cademartori said the general bylaw would apply to the Vallis Way subdivision once Caggiano applies for a building permit.
“The Tree Bylaw would apply if it passes,” said Cademartori.
Abutters air concerns
After the Planning Board provided the development team feedback about the proposed subdivision, several abutters weighed in on the project.
Mohawk Lane resident Jeff Stelman said a portion of his driveway is located just over the proposed subdivision’s property line.
“In a perfect world, I would love an easement for that so I don’t have to cut it back,” said Stelman.
Caggiano was open to Stelman’s proposal.
Lowell Street resident Gail Marcus noted that her home abuts Lot 5. She is concerned that blasting might have to take place in order to remove the hill.
“If there is ledge, there is going to be blasting,” said Marcus. “It’s right near my house and my neighbor’s house. I don’t have a problem with the development going in, but I am really concerned that leveling the hill means blasting. I would like to see that hill to be protected.”
If blasting is needed in order to remove the hill, Kimball said the company that detonates the land will be required to have liability insurance in the event any abutting properties get damaged. Caggiano added that soil-boring tests have yet to be undertaken in order to determine if there is ledge.
“If we are going to take the hill down, which we plan on doing, we are going to do some borings in order to get an idea of what it will take to reduce it,” said Caggiano.
Lowell Street resident Christina Itzkowitz noted that her family’s home is located directly across the proposed Vallis Way subdivision. She said the south side of Lowell Street doesn’t have a sidewalk.
“I think a sidewalk on our side of the street would keep little kids safe,” she said.
Charville said he would reach out to Town Engineer Charlie Richter about the request.
Matt Itzkowitz said he is concerned about the proposed entrance for the Vallis Way subdivision. He asked if a shared driveway could be developed instead of building a new road.
“It’s going to be incredibly disruptive to Lowell Street,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult for us to get in and out during construction.”
Kimball said Vallis’ current driveway “is not nearly as wide as the road layout.”
“The road has to be 40-feet wide,” said Kimball.
Matt Itzkowitz also expressed concerns about tree-cutting taking place.
“Where that street is proposed, there are 15 100-foot trees that are going to have to come down,” said Matt Itzkowitz. “Keeping the trees along the front of Lowell Street would hide the street more. I know there has been a lot of talk of preserving trees in town, and this is 100 yards into town. The aesthetic of the whole area is going to be drastically changed.”
Charville said the proposed Tree Bylaw would require Caggiano to either replace the trees or contribute to a Tree Fund that would be used to plant trees in other parts of town if October Town Meeting approves the general bylaw.
“We are not able to do that without that bylaw,” said Charville.
Mowhawk Lane resident Paula Carley urged the development team and the Planning Board to preserve as many trees as possible.
“I would love to see the road moved a little bit if possible if it can save those beautiful trees,” said Carley.
Vallis said a number of trees will be preserved as part of the development.
After the discussion, the Planning Board to continue the Vallis Way subdivision discussion to its next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 4.