The A, B, Cs of Subdivisions

The Mattapoisett Planning Board agenda on August 5 contained A, B, and C subdivision filings in various stages of approval and/or completion. Subdivisions can be very complex or very simple and understanding the language and technical elements of each can be, at times, vastly more challenging then learning the a, b, cs. 

            Coming before the Planning Board with a Form A Approval Not Required application was Jane and William Farran for property located at 112 Angelica Avenue. Represented by Douglas Schneider of Schneider, Davignon and Leone, Inc., the applicants planned to divide their 50-acre parcel. Their home is located within the massive tract, most of which is currently in a purchase and sales agreement with the Mattapoisett Land Trust. The goal is to maintain a lot for their private use and convey the balance to the land trust for permanent passive recreational and conservation purposes.

            This type of subdivision filing does not constitute a subdivision within the meaning of the Subdivision Law; therefore, Planning Board approval is not required. However, according to according to Chairman Tom Tucker, a review by the Planning Board of the plans is prudent. As with all land related matters, appropriate documentation, surveys, deeds etc., to support the request are needed. Form A is for the creation of a lot on an approved road with the appropriate frontage and set-backs said Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola.

            Farran’s request was accepted as presented.

            The Form B application is a request for preliminary approval of a proposed subdivision as defined by the Subdivision Law. Engineered drawings, conceptual designs, plot plans, and other supporting documentation will be required in this type of filing.

            Presenting a Form B filing was Schneider who told the Planning Board that Jay and Julie Starr-Duker’s property is a legally non-conforming lot with no frontage along Aucoot Road. To access their property, they use a right-of-way that was executed in the 1940’s. But, Schneider said, the couple wished to secure legal frontage. He said that every time they planned to do anything to their property issues arose due to not having frontage and they sought a remedy to this problem by seeking Planning Board approval.

            The request presented a new set of questions for the Planning Board – was this filing really appropriate under the terms of the subdivision law given they weren’t creating lots, only frontage.

            Board member Janice Robbins questioned, “Why do they want frontage, they have legal easement?”

            “Because they don’t want to go before the board of appeals every time they do something to their land,” Schneider replied.

            But Robbins said the language in the subdivision law did not include such a request.

            Planning Board Administrator Mary Crain interjected, “Town counsel said phrasing this as a subdivision may not be the right language: he suggested an Approval Not Required (Form A).”

            “But they’re not creating a new lot,” Robbins said again, “So an ANR might not work.  Just because they don’t want to go back to the ZBA, we are being asked to try and fit something … this doesn’t come within the subdivision rules. I don’t know if there is any remedy from the Planning Board.”

            Chairman Tom Tucker said, “Well, town counsel said we could do an ANR. What are we paying him for.”

            Robins retorted, “I don’t see it.”

            Tucker asked Schneider, “Would you like to come back after we’ve had time to talk further with town counsel?”  The filing was continued until September 16.

            The last two filings of the evening were Form C Subdivisions.

            The Form C application is a request for approval of a subdivision plan. Again, plan documents and all related materials are required. This type of application also encompasses filings for the addition of land to an existing lot or the creation of a lot that is not buildable per the Zoning Bylaws.  

            Of the three types of applications, the Form C may require surety, a financial encumbrance placed on the project by the municipality to ensure the project will be completed as designed and approved in the plan-of-record. That surety may be in the form of cash, bond, or withholding lots within the subdivision. These measures are designed to protect the town and the future home owners against developers whose plans fail to meet established standards, timelines, and permits issued by the town.

            Terrance Granahan requested the release of a $5,000 surety for a project known as Appaloosa Lane. The small two lot subdivision roadway was now complete, Granahan said, and had been inspected by Highway Superintendent Barry Denham. Tucker confirmed that Denham had submitted a letter certifying the construction had met standards. Release of the surety was approved.

            Scott Snow came before the Planning Board for a final review of his plan-of-record for a Form C subdivision known was Eldridge Estates located at 6 and 8-8R Prospect Road. The Planning Board was satisfied all documents had gone through a month’s long review process. After advising Snow about the next steps which included having the documents executed and providing stamped mylar engineered drawings and notarized signatures, the Planning Board voted to sign their decision for approval of the project. Planning Board member Karen Field abstained from the vote.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for August 19 at 7:00 pm in the town hall conference room.

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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