Shawmut Associates received swift approval for amendments made to its site plan for the Cranberry Highway trash and recycling center with little discussion required on April 8 after extensive discussions during prior meetings.
Changes include enlarging the building square-footage from 88,900 to 94,270 after enclosing all waste handling operations, and modifying the pavement limits in the area of the building expansion for traffic to travel around the building.
The board chitchatted a bit about the project status with Greg Wirsen of Green Environmental Engineering. He asked Chairman Arnold Johnson, “So, how’s the view from [Route] 495?”
Wirsen said thousands of yards of concrete have already been poured and some parts of the old structure have not yet been demolished.
Board Member Gary Florindo said he had recently visited the site himself and “it looked like a war zone.”
Needing a super-majority for the motion to pass, Wirsen took a gamble with only five members present, the sixth being the absent Michael Murphy. The motion passed, but not without Board Member Bendrix Bailey first objecting to the motion just to see what Wirsen’s face would look like.
The board also discussed the flood plain by-law amendment headed for the Annual Town Meeting warrant on May 19, but took no action on the matter.
Bailey expressed his disapproval of the FEMA flood maps, saying his own house was erroneously designated as being located within a flood zone. He specified that the FEMA map had his house marked at level with Snipatuit Pond, and he says his house is elevated 23 feet.
“The more I look into this, the more I see there are errors in the map,” said Bailey. “My house that is not in a flood plain is underwater on the FEMA map.”
Bailey said he would not vote to recommend the Town’s by-law to Town Meeting, and he vowed to oppose it on the Town Meeting floor.
“We’re really being bullied by a big government organization,” said Bailey. He said he would no longer be able to build an addition onto his house without a special permit because of the map. “Their map is wrong,” he stated. He said he would not support the by-law until FEMA corrected its maps. He also said his neighbors are affected and, quite possibly, other mistakes were made throughout the state.
After some discussion over the details of the by-law, Johnson suggested the board speak with Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon for more information.
The board continued the hearing for a request to rescind a Form C Subdivision Approval for King’s Highway until May 13 in order to straighten out a discrepancy between the assessor’s information and the plan previously approved by the board back in 2006.
The applicant’s representative said two existing buildings stand on one lot, according to the assessor; however, the chairman said the assessor was wrong and the plan reflects the two buildings each stand on two separate lots.
“We can only go by what we have approved,” said Johnson. “As far as this board is concerned, it’s sitting on two separate lots.”
In other business, the board talked about the Limited Commercial District amendment, although Johnson stated that the matter would not make it in time for either of the May 19 town meetings.
By the end of the discussion, board members agreed that language within the by-law should be changed to reflect the removal of the height restriction for buildings in order to address the plans on a case-by-case basis.
Johnson said it would be best to grant permits based on how the building would harmonize with other buildings in the area and keep with the character of the neighborhood.
The board also received a letter from the attorney general’s office informing the Town that a 2011 by-law passed by Town Meeting was rejected because of a clerical error in the delivery of notification for a hearing. The by-law pertained to the “sunset provision” for building plans.
According to Johnson, a letter requesting further information about the Town’s by-law was sent to Town Clerk and Selectman Naida Parker but was never passed along or followed through.
Johnson said, with the by-law, the Town was just trying to align itself with the new regulations of the State, doing away with the two-year expiration on building plans that were never developed.
“You know what?” said Johnson. “To heck with them.”
The next Rochester Planning Board meeting is scheduled for April 22 at 7:00 pm at Town Hall.
By Jean Perry