There are cul-de-sacs and there are “fake” cul-de-sacs, explained Mattapoisett Highway Surveyor Barry Denham on August 6, and the one proposed for Snow Fields Estates is a fake one, Denham said, taking a firm stand against what he perceives as a roadway plan that favors Snow Fields Estates while plowing past regulations.
Denham listed his objections before the Mattapoisett Planning Board and cited the regulations that require specific dimensions for dead-end roads and dimensions for paved turning circles, which, up until that point, was slated for pavement in developer Dennis Arsenault’s plan.
“This turning circle creates lot frontage and does nothing for public safety,” said Denham.
Planning Board Chairman Tom Tucker objectively pointed out, however, that the latest plan provides for a gravel turning circle, mitigation for developing within the wetlands. Still, Denham argued, the reason for a cul-de-sac is for large emergency vehicles to be able to make the turnaround. In this case, he said, the ‘cul-de-sac‘ serves no such purpose.
“Instead of a cul-de-sac, [the road] goes to provide access,” said Denham. “It’s just a circle on a piece of paper to provide frontage…
“So we don’t know how serviceable that cul-de-sac is going to be in all weather,” Denham added, referring mostly to snow plowing, which the board later pointed out would be left to the residents as the road would not be accepted by the Town.
The board’s Planning Assistant Mary Crain asked Denham to review the revised plan with her, pointing out to him various changes to allay his concerns.
Denham acknowledged the plan had changed and noted that the cul-de-sac wouldn’t be built because of the wetlands, but he maintained his position on the revised plan, saying, “To call it a cul-de-sac and use it for frontage for lots – it does not exist; it can’t exist,” he asserted.
Perhaps the cul-de-sac did not perfectly comply with the board’s regulations, commented Tucker, “But sometimes common sense has to come in,” Tucker stated. The new plan may ultimately favor the developer, he added, but nonetheless, it was a compromise to reduce the environmental impact.
“I’m with Barry on this ‘fake cul-de-sacs’,” said Planning Board member Janice Robbins, “but the trade-off is the environmental impact reduction.”
“As long as the trade-off doesn’t end up being a human life,” said Denham. For him, it’s his job to ensure emergency access to those lots, he said. “If you find that it’s not a concern, then I’ve done my job because I said it was. You’ve done your job and you said I don’t think your concern is that important.”
Tucker asked Denham to please understand that the board did not discredit his concerns, and he thanked Denham for his due diligence.
The fire chief and the police chief both signed off on the relocation of the cul-de-sac, accepting it without concern.
In order to accommodate for a peer review study of the project, the developer’s engineer, David Davignon, said he would file for a 60-day extension to the application timeline in order to extend the deadline out to November 5 for the board to take a vote.
The public hearing was continued until September 16.
Also during the meeting, residents of Brandt Point Village left disappointed after Tucker informed them that there would not be a hearing as a result of a technicality on behalf of the developer – no green cards.
Abutters must be duly notified of a public hearing, Tucker explained, and the proof of that notification via certified mail are the green cards that the post office returns to the sender after the letters are signed for and received.
“Because you weren’t notified officially with the green cards … we can’t hold the hearing,” said Tucker.
Abutters had questions and concerns they wanted aired, but Tucker was overly cautious that evening about discussing the case outside of the continued hearing, fearing possible Open Meeting Law violations. Furthermore, some of those questions concerned septic system concerns, which Tucker was reticent to talk about at all.
“I’m really treading some thin ice here,” Tucker told them. “What you’re discussing is not what the public hearing is this evening.” He advised those concerned to seek advice from the Board of Health, the entity with jurisdiction over septic matters.
That hearing was continued until August 20.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for August 20 at 7:00 pm at the Mattapoisett Town Hall.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Jean Perry