Park Central: Access point used as carrot and stick

Above: A deal with the town to allow use variance at Park Central includes a concession that looks awfully close to original plans.

Capital Group Properties was back in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals last night. The developer’s attorney continued to pitch proposed developments at Park Central.

Last night’s discussion focused on a Use Variance Permit for a townhouse development. The deal is linked directly to the 40B proposed at the site.

One of the biggest concessions offered was routing residential traffic directly to Flagg Road.

Since plans for a large 40B project at Park Central were first shared, area residents objected. Neighbors voiced concerns about increased traffic proposed to acccess the development via Flagg Road (a winding and often narrow residential street without sidewalks.)

In June 2013, Capital Group Properties filed a changed traffic plan with what they claimed to be a concession to concerns. In it, all residential traffic was routed through a cul de sac on Bantry Road and onto Tara Road and Blackthorne Drive. (The alleged improvement was routing of any future commercial traffic to Route 9 via Park Central Drive, rather than Flagg Road.)

With abutters up in arms at a Board of Selectmen meeting, member Bill Boland commented to developer Bill Depietri:

To be blunt, I think this proposal almost looks like, ‘Well no one will buy this, so this is a better chance to get what we had in the first place.

Since then, developer Depietri added back in a right turn only onto Flagg Road. But he publicly dug his heels in on keeping the quiet neighborhoods as another point of access. And two months ago, he called it “a showstopper”.

Last night, his lawyer used the road access as both a carrot and stick.

Attorney Angelo Catanzaro told the board that their plans for Use Variance would eliminate entry to the abutting neighborhood, except for emergency vehicle via Blackthorn.  Instead, residential traffice would use an access road to Flagg Road, turning in both directions. Any future commercial traffic from the site would still be routed to Route 9.

He clarified the concession would extend to the 40B project, but was contingent on approval of the Use Variance for townhouses. Otherwise, the developer would revert to 40B access through Bantry Road.

Another concession in the deal includes granting ZBA Chair Leo Bartolini’s request to change 40B units to rentals. In exchange, Depietri is looking for the board to not only approve the Use Variance, but waive some of the town’s requirements for Major Residential Development.

Catanzaro acknowledged that his client had to show hardship in order to receive a Use Variance. He said that the poor conditions of the land met that criteria.

The attorney claimed that poor soil conditions, wetlands, a pond and severe sloping prevent Depietri from building large commercial buildings. He also said that there is no market for smaller commercial buildings. Without the variance, his client can’t get the full value of the property.

In previous meetings, Depietri said he planned to develop 400 additional 40B condo units on the site. The alternative townhouse project is already a purported concession in itself. And Bartolini has been openly fearful of the future 40B projects that could be forced on the town if the board doesn’t approve the deal.

Attorney Dan Hill, representing 20-30 neighbors, urged the ZBA hold off on approving the permit. He argued that granting approval would take away the town’s leverage for an ideal plan.

The board stated that plan approval belonged to the Planning Board.

Hill rebutted that by waiving Major Residential Development requirements, they would be limiting the Planning Board’s authority. He claimed that Site Plan Review doesn’t give them enough leverage to reject plans if they fall within bylaws but aren’t ideal for the community. The board disagreed.

The neighbor’s representative then pushed for meetings with the developer and the Town Planner to help mediate differences.

Bartolini claimed that the Planner is legally restricted from discussing the 40B project outside of public meetings. He said that they could only discuss the Use Variance.

Hill disagreed and plans to file a letter to the effect. Bartolini will forward the letter to Town Counsel for opinion.

Towards the end of the discussion, with tempers flaring, Hill repeatedly waved the neighbors’s stick – their right to appeal. Bartolini claimed that an appeal would result in loss of all concessions and approval of the 40B.

Urging the applicant’s and neighbors to meet and further discuss issues on the Use Variance, the board agreed to continue the hearing to November 19th at 6:00 pm (room TBD).

Subsequently, the 40B development permit was continued to their December 3 meeting at 7:00 pm.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Very Interesting
9 years ago

I find it somewhat interesting that Mr. Kevin Giblin’s name has never surfaced in connection with this project yet he has told some people in town that he is “involved” with this project. I just shake my head when I think of all the difficulties the town faced with his Barn Hollow project and the open space disaster.

I hope that a fair solution to this issue can be found.

  • © 2024 — All rights reserved.