Once again the developers for the Brandt Point Village subdivision failed to appear for a hearing scheduled with the Mattapoisett Planning Board. This time, however, they requested a continuation to hear a request for a modification to a definitive subdivision plan at noon on August 20, the same day as the hearing.
Chairman Tom Tucker read a letter submitted by Alan Loomis of McKenzie Engineering, representative for Armand Cotelleso, the developer, and Marc Marcus of Omega Financial, the owner and investor of the project. The letter simply asked for a continuance to September 17, the next scheduled meeting of the Planning Board. The Planning Board previously rescheduled an August 6 hearing when Loomis advised the board that abutters had not been properly notified as required by law. The new hearing date will be September 17 as the request was approved by the board.
Later in the meeting when Tucker was asked how he could be sure representatives for the subdivision would be present at the September meeting, he said, “They had to have everything complete (on Phase One) by August 1. They have 30 days after that date to comply. With the holiday in September they’ll actually have closer to 45 days.” When asked what would happen if they weren’t in compliance by then, Tucker indicated the developer would be in default, “They can’t do anything further.”
Planning Board Assistant Mary Cairn confirmed there are funds in escrow. Tucker said after the meeting that escrow funds could be used by the town to finish Phase One if the developer defaulted. It was unclear what would become of structures already constructed in Phase Two.
Tucker expressed confidence that the developer’s attorney, John McGreen, would be present for the September hearing. Crain had noted that the town’s legal representative would also be in attendance at the next public hearing in this matter.
The board members also discussed a draft of a bylaw change submitted by Paul Madden of G.A.F. Engineering. The discussion focused on the implications the bylaw changes would have on the use of Form A lot inclusion for yield plans in cluster subdivisions. Tucker said that the board already had control to include Form A lots in subdivision yield planning, and, in his opinion, to accept only Form A lots in subdivisions planning, as the draft suggested, would be surrendering the control and flexibility the board currently holds when reviewing multi-unit projects.
Resident Paul Osenkowski spoke on behalf of a project that had been proposed by Madden for his client David Nicolosi during a June meeting of the Planning Board – the impetus for Madden’s bylaw change. At that meeting, informal discussions put a parcel located off Chapel Road front and center with several abutters expressing concern about its possible development.
The conceptual project would have included at least one Form A lot in the yield plan. It became unclear to the Planning Board members that they could mix Form A lots with Form C lots for yield plan consideration. Madden, while not presenting fully fleshed out engineering plans, said that the concept would allow for a creative use of the parcel with no negative impact to the wetlands and, in his opinion, the board had the power to accept such a plan.
On this night, Planning Board member Janice Robbins once again referred to what she called “ambiguity” in the current subdivision bylaw. She was weary of town counsel’s opinion that the Planning Board had the control, returning to her concern that the language was unclear.
Osenkowski urged the board members to act on behalf of the community and not get hung up on the technical language in the bylaw.
Tucker stated, “Town counsel said we could decide on a case-by-case basis.” But Robbins held to a concern that that was only town counsel’s opinion and that subdivision bylaw language, as it is currently written, was not clear enough. He said, “Even with town counsel’s opinion, we should get rid of the ambiguity.”
In the end, the board unanimously moved not to support Madden’s bylaw change with no further action on the existing subdivision bylaws.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for September 17 at 7 pm in the town hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell