TOWN OF SHARON
Minutes of a Meeting of the Planning Board held on June 29, 2005, at 7:30 pm., in the Sharon Town Offices.
PRESENT: Regina Maniscalco, Chair
Wayne Bradley, Clerk and Recorder
Peter O’Cain Asst Town Engineer
I. Meeting called to order.
Ms. Maniscalco gave an update on the Delapa property, saying that the principals were making strides toward meeting the stipulated conditions. At present they were waiting for the waste water plan.
FORM A PLANS
Peter O’Cain presented revised plans for 77 Norwood St. The revised plan showed two lots instead of three, but with the front portions more evenly divided. It was noted by Mr. Bradley that none of the back land had been designated for conservation. A check of the minutes from the previous meeting noted that Mr. Newman had stated his willingness to do this. It was recognized that as a Board, we cannot require such a stipulation on a Form A proposal, but that such a move certainly can be encouraged. Mr. Bradley expressed the concern that without the conservation designation we were perhaps creating the possibility with opportunity for assemblage for additional future development. Mr. O’Cain advised the Board that the applicants actually had sufficient frontage to have submitted three buildable lots.
Minutes of Meeting Page Two June 29, 2005
It was moved, seconded and voted unanimously that the Plan of Land on Norwood St., submitted by Marjorie Newman “doesn’t require approval according to the Subdivision Control Laws of the Town of Sharon.” It was also decided that as a separate action Mr. O’Cain would remind the applicant of his intention to designate conservation land and inquire as to whether he still was inclined to do this.
II. MORSE STREET EXTENSION
The Board approved the draft of the Morse St. Extension Plan - Definitive Plan dated June 17, 2005. (The actual plan was approved unanimously at its previous meeting on June 15, 2005.)
II. Ms. Maniscalco announced a change in the agenda to discuss Inclusionary Zoning and In-law Apartments rather than CSD Modifications. It was later noted the change was due to the absence of Eli Hauser and postponement of the CSD discussion until Mr. Hauser could be there.
Ms. Maniscalco thanked Alice Cheyer for putting the Inclusionary Zoning Plan together. Ms. Cheyer gave a summary of the plan which she said had been modeled after the Town of Marion. Key elements under discussion were:
---the potential to offer a donation of land in lieu of building actual units;
---lack of a monetary alternative;
---the question of maintaining a 15% ratio;
---the establishment of a minimum threshold of 6 units before the requirement took effect.
Both Ms. Maniscalco and Ms. Cheyer urged against monetary buyouts, citing several reports that indicate the majority of developers will opt for the cash payment with towns generally ill-equipped to manage a housing fund. One negative of this is that for smaller projects (less than 6) there is no way to enforce participation.
Minutes of Meeting Page Three June 29, 2005
Some concern was expressed that 15% may be overkill and the more onerous the tax, the more likely a legal challenge may be. The problem was, however, that the primary purpose of the proposed regulations being a means of maintaining the state-mandated affordable housing index, but if under six unit projects are exempt, we will fall back below the threshold over time.
One issue with respect to donating land was the question of measuring the commensurate worth of the contribution to ensure equal or greater than value. Mr. Bradley suggested language to deal with this issue and Mr. O’Cain suggested avoiding the question altogether with simplification.
Also a question of oversight and administration arose. Mr. O’Cain questioned whether a special permit was really necessary. Ms. Maniscalco indicated the housing authority needed to be empowered. ZBA should be invited to the public hearing and brought into the discussion.
Mr. Cohen presented draft language which had been provided to him by the Council on Aging. After some discussion, it was decided that using this by-law to create permanent affordable units was not a realistic objective. Peter O’Cain indicated that less restrictive language already exists in our by-laws and the most significant impediment to creating ancillary apartments was Title V, which would not be effected by a new by-law.
IV. OTHER BUSINESS
There was general discussion of town-wide initiatives to address 40B developments. Mr. O’Cain made the comment that the he thought the best solution was to build one large high-rise and be done with it. Mr. Bradley and Mr. Lauenstein echoed these sentiments. Ms. Maniscalco voiced concern over possibly creating a “housing slum”. Discussion ensued regarding how to avoid such pitfalls.
Minutes of Meeting Page Four June 29, 2005
Mr. Lauenstein expressed consternation about the process by which the Housing Production Plan was approved. He pointed out that the Selectmen voted to endorse the HPP in concept before it was completed, but neither the Board of Selectmen nor the Planning Board ever voted to ratify the final copy that was submitted to the State. He also pointed out that some members of the Planning Board made last-minute alterations to the HPP and sent it in to the State without notifying other Planning Board members. He said he did not approve of this decision-making process.
Ms. Maniscalco mentioned that she had made some last minute changes to the HPP before sending it in, including deletion of one of the properties on a list of Town land. She said as a practical matter it was necessary to have some discretionary authority to make minor changes in order to get the job done on time.
Mr. Bradley added that the HPP represented a major policy initiative and, perhaps should have been submitted under the previous Board. Passing on to the new Board as it did created an awkward situation that had no clear resolution. The benefit of a year of relief from possible new 40B’s perhaps made implementation imperative, but the approval process was flawed for so significant a document.
V. Meeting was adjourned.