HANSON — Residents of the Spring Street area had the opportunity to question specifics of a proposed development — including some 40B units — at a zoning hearing last week.
The ZBA held a public hearing Tuesday, July 6 on the application for the Cushing Trails LLC project proposed on Spring Street. The comprehensive permit would allow construction of 40 for sale condominium units in 20 duplex-style buildings on about 9.6 acres, some of which are intended as 40B units.
The plan has been recommended to go through a peer review on the traffic study and the hearing was continued to 7 p.m.. Aug. 31.
Attorney Michael O’Shaughnessy made the presentation as he had done for Selectmen last month. O’Shaughnessy and architect Jamie Kelleher from Axiom Architects and Joseph Webby of Webby Engineering, as well as a representative of the firm that conducted the traffic study updated the board on the plan, before residents spoke and asked questions.
“I understand there’s a lot of anxious people in the room,” said ZBA Vice Chairman Kevin Perkins, who presided over the hearing, asking for those attending to be respectful of others who are speaking. “If it gets out of hand, we’re going to have to adjourn the meeting and continue it.”
Chairman William Cushing, who has involvement with the project, was not present.
Residents attending the hearing focused on water and soil quality, traffic and pedestrian safety, impact on emergency services and school bus routes as well as damage residents claim work on the site has caused to homes in the area.
Christine Cohen of Spring Street, who thanked the ZBA members for volunteering to serve, nonetheless expressed concern over potential conflicts of interest.
“If you guys are making decisions regarding this project, can I ask questions?” she said.
Perkins said she could, but not at that time.
“I believe all the members of the board have submitted documents with the town clerk regarding that, but you can check with [that office] if you’d like,” he said.
Town Counsel Jay Talerman, who attended the hearing, said he is aware of the questions but said it is not his function to vet the ZBA members. He said he has held confidential discussions with Perkins and that ZBA members have the same resources to ethics training as anyone else in the state.
“We’re obviously aware that in small towns there can be conflicts and I think the chair’s been really thoughtful on it,” Talerman said.
Perkins said that, if anyone had reason to recuse themselves from the meeting, they were not present at the meeting.
The meeting was broadcast by Hanson’s community access channel and is available for viewing on the WHCA-TV YouTube channel.
Holmes Street resident Gary Banuk, a retired chemist, asked about the development’s proximity to the Rockland dump, and was told it abuts that facility.
“I have things that worry me about the contaminants that would be at the bottom of that dump,” Banuk said. “In the old days everything was thrown in the dump.”
“We’re going to build a subdivision next to soil that wasn’t good enough for a dump, now we’re going to have people up in there,” said another resident, who noted the original plan to expand the Rockland landfill was denied.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett’s questions included whether there are any one-bedroom units in the development, whether affordable units will be clustered next to one another and whether they would abut the Rockland town line.
Jane Downey, who lives in the house on Spring Street surrounded by the development, said water from a 36-inch drain looks to funnel water from the development into her back yard. She also asked who would pay for foundation cracks and other damage to her home since site work began at the development.
Webby said a foundation survey could be required and the developer could potentially be responsible for repairs.
O’Shaughnessy said no one-bedroom units are proposed and affordables will be dispersed throughout the development.
Perkins had opened the hearing by reading letters from other town boards and then provided the applicant — Chairman William Cushing — or his representative, the opportunity to give an overview of the project.
“We might have time for abutters in the public comments [but] we’re going to try to get through the application process,” Perkins told the meeting in the Selectmen’s meeting room. “If we have time today, we’ll get to the public, if not then we’ll do that next week.”
The Planning Board’s letter indicated they had voted 3-0-2 on June 28 against approval of the project. A second vote by the same margin on June 30 recommended a re-evaluation and resubmittal of a storm water management engineering and apply the same re-evaluation submittal to all septic proposals.
The building inspector’s letter indicated he had no concerns over the proposal, “however, building permits must be issued prior to the start of construction.”
Deputy Fire Chief Robert O’Brien’s June 17 letter on behalf of the Fire Department indicated that using the name Williams Trail for one of the street names in the development is not acceptable as Hanson already has a Williams Way. While hydrant locations appeared to be acceptable, it would require final approval from the Water Department.
Conservation Agent Frank Schellenger wrote on June 17 that Conservation has no comment on the project as it lacks jurisdiction under the Wetlands Protection Act or the Hanson Wetlands Protection By-law, but the Commission would review the septic plans when the Board of Health forwards them.
Webby said the streets and cul-de-sacs are in the same location as when the project was designed as a 20-unit development. Drainage, he said, is still sufficient. Septic service will be installed and all utilities will be underground. O’Shaughnessy said the development will feature condominium-style ownership with the condominium association responsible for maintaining roads and common areas.
The traffic study concluded that the development would add between 30 and 40 vehicle trips during peak morning and evening rush hours, resulting in little vehicle delays over current conditions. Vehicle lines of sight meet or exceed requirements for safe operation, the study concluded.
Perkins asked how the traffic study was conducted.
Road trip counts were obtained on current conditions along Spring Street at the approximate location of the site, adjusting the count for the effects of COVID as well as seasonal averages, with estimates of trip volume from the project impact based on the Institute of Transportation Engineers manual that is the industry standard. Registry of Motor Vehicles accident histories of the area were also studied, the ZBA was told.
Recommendations of road specifications include a roadway of at least 20 feet in width that can accommodate the turning needs of fire apparatus.
The safety of a sidewalk with a Cape Cod berm was raised, with the recommendation that a grass strip separate the roadway and sidewalk for pedestrian safety. No parking along roadways was also recommended, as was a berm or swale to control runoff from the roadway.
“This seems to be a recipe for disaster,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said of the roadway plan and short driveways at some units, who also touched on the sidewalk safety issue. “If somebody has a party or people over … are we thinking about having the proponent to have some kind of a parking lot?”
Perkins said some kind of guest parking area should be included in the plans. He also stressed separation of sidewalks from the roadway were important.
“My biggest concern is the drainage,” said Patrick Brennon of Armory Engineers in Marshfield.
O’Shaughnessy said he met with the Water Commissioners several weeks ago to discuss extending the water line to the town line with Rockland and improving drainage on Spring Street.
Kelleher reviewed the design of the homes. O’Shaughnessy said the 40B units have not been designated yet, but will be indistinguishable from the way market priced units will be designed, although Mass Housing requires a certain number of three-bedroom units for a family blend.
O’Shaughnessy said there are now eight three-bedroom units — originally having proposed only four to Mass Housing — and 22 with two bedrooms.
“Quality wise, structurally, they are identical to the other units,” he said. “No different.”