DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS The Department continued to perform its regular responsibilities which include tree maintenance, the care of the cemetery public grounds and the Transfer Station. This year Fiske Street and Russell Street were resurfaced along with sections of Cross Street, East Street and Lowell Street.
During the year 2011 there were 17 interments.
RECREATION CONSERVATION COMMISSION The Carlisle Conservation Commission is a seven-member town board appointed to by the Board of Selectmen for three-year terms. This year Tom Brown joined the Commission to fill a vacant position. Tom brings with him an interest in wildlife and some expertise in finance. At the end of the year, the commission learned that Debra Kimbrell-Anderson would be resigning due to work commitments. The members of the Conservation Commission are grateful for her very valuable service since 2009. The Commission continues to provide the town with experience in engineering, farming, environmental law and education, wildlife biology and habitat protection.
The Commission regularly meets in the Town Hall at 7:30 pm, year-round, usually on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. In addition to its responsibility for management of Carlisle’s conservation lands, the Commission’s major time commitment involves the administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Ch 131 s 40), the Carlisle Wetlands Protection Bylaw, and their regulations. Property owners proposing projects which will alter land within the 100-foot Buffer Zone of a Bordering Vegetated Wetland or other wetland resource areas including within 200 feet of a perennial stream, must submit an application to the Conservation Commission for review prior the start of work. Alteration includes tree and vegetation removal. Failure to apply to the Commission for a permit can lead to enforcement action, a potentially time-consuming activity for both the property owner and the Commission.
In 2011 the Commission members met 21 times for the purpose of permitting projects and for decisions regarding the management of Conservation lands. As has been the case recently, they continue to receive filings for projects with increasing complexity due to development of land with sensitive areas such as wetlands and rare species. These projects can, and often do, require multiple continuances, peer reviews and site visits to adequately address all relevant conservation, habitat and wetlands issues they present.
In order to help offset the cost to all Carlisle taxpayers for the expense of wetlands permitting activities, the Conservation Commission has used the filing fees from applications submitted under the Carlisle Wetlands Protection Bylaw and under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act to offset their general budget. In 2011, more than $18,000 was used from these sources to support the department. With the encouragement of the Carlisle Finance Committee, the Commission conducted an extensive review of their expenses associated with wetlands filings and revised their fee schedule, keeping in mind that increasing fees too much could discourage filing for permits and lead to increased enforcement actions. New fees went into effect in March, 2011.
In 2011, the Commission had the following permitting activity:
Notice of Intent/Order of Conditions
Amendments to OOC
Request for Determinations
Resource Area Delineation(ANRAD)
Order of Resource Area Delineation
Certificates of Compliance
Extensions to Orders of Conditions
Conservation Restriction Violation
Project denials or appeals
Conservation Land Use Permits
The Cranberry Bog Conservation Land was the focus of much Conservation land management during 2011. Structural repairs of the Cranberry Bog House paid for with CPA funds authorized in the 2010 Spring Town Meeting were undertaken. Preservation of this 106-year-old historic structure is critical to the current and future management needs of the Cranberry Bog. The project was overseen by the Cranberry Bog Preservation Committee, with Land Stewards Warren Lyman and Debbie Geltner, volunteer expertise provided by Larry Sorli and Alan Ankers, and further support provided by Tim Goddard, Town Administrator and Sylvia Willard, Conservation Administrator. By the year end, the project was nearly complete.
A notable addition for trail users was provided by Carlisle long time resident Janet Lovejoy who donated three large granite blocks for use as seats for rest and quiet contemplation along the trails at the bog. These were installed during the fall and are a great asset to the trails. The Conservation Commission is truly grateful for this generous contribution.
In August, the cranberry grower, Mark Duffy was able to replace a long-failing flume in the Upper Dike that was also becoming a trail hazard. During the process the Upper Water Reservoir behind the dike drained and bog walkers were confronted with a scene of dead and dying fish. Later in the fall, during an unseasonable October snow storm, a break occurred in the Lower dike draining the Lower Water Reservoir also required for the Cranberry Bog operation. Although the harvest had already been completed, the wetland habitat faced a long winter without its normal water level.
This year delegates from both the Carlisle Conservation Commission and the Chelmsford Conservation Commission, which owns the Cranberry Bog Reservation abutting Carlisle’s Bog property, began meeting for the purpose of developing better communication concerning our adjacent conservation properties, particularly since wetland ponds and waterways provide water resources for the cranberry operation. At the first meeting it was learned that the Chelmsford Water District will again propose to install water supply wells on their property, which abuts the Cranberry Bog Reservation, located off Barnes Terrace in Chelmsford. This proposal was first advanced and then withdrawn in 1999 and 2000.
Another focus of land management was staking by survey the Mannis Conservation Land property lines, funded through a warrant article during the 2011 Spring Town Meeting. This conservation property given to the town in 1982 is comprised of several parcels of land and is located between North Road and Rutland Streets. Increased development adjacent to this nearly 28-acre conservation property compelled the Commission to have the property lines marked for the purpose of protecting the land from future incursions and to correct some likely existing ones.
During 2011 the Conservation Commission became aware of a proposal by the land trust, Sudbury Valley Trustees, to purchase a 9-acre property. The property is located on the Concord River and would provide protection to 1000 feet of river frontage. It was further proposed that the Town of Carlisle, Conservation Commission purchase a Conservation Restriction on the property that would provide perpetual trail access to the river. A canoe landing is also being proposed. This effort, still underway at year’s end, is also being coordinated through the local land trust, the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF).
In addition to wetlands permitting, the Conservation Commission and its staff addressed a wide variety of activities somewhat out of the ordinary. These included a continuing public records request, an order by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety for an inspection of the Curve Street Dam, a state-wide study at the request of Mass Highways to monitor specific road areas in Carlisle for turtle mortality, and addressing a claim of discrimination at the Foss Farm Community Gardens.
The Commission continues to receive for consideration outstanding reports undertaken by their subcommittee, the Land Stewardship Committee (LSC). Their work is outlined in detail in their own report located elsewhere in this 2011 Town Report.
As noted in the chart above, the Commission issued 10 Conservation Land Use Permits for activities on conservation land. These activities included Pony Club activities including lessons series and a Two-Phase event, Cub Scout rocket launching, rescue dog training, sled dog training, bird watching, moonlight walks, and activities connected with scientific research. In addition, a wetlands permit was issued to two Eagle Scout candidates for installation of new trails, one on Chestnut Open Space parcel located off Rutland Street and one on municipal land linking Spalding Field to Banta Davis.
The Conservation office, through its staff, Sylvia Willard, Administrator and Administrative Assistant, Mary Hopkins, continues to provide support for the members of the Conservation Commission as well as the public. It is also an important communication link between the Commission and project engineers, town boards and committees, and with State and Federal agencies and land trusts which have land or interests in land here in Carlisle. These include the Carlisle Trails Committee, the Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC), MA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Great Brook Farm State Park, the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Carlisle Cranberries, Inc. and, of course its busy subcommittee, the Land Stewardship Committee. The staff also assists the Commission with the town’s Site Plan Review process for non-residential property use. It also reviews proposed regulatory changes by state agencies. The staff also participates in advisory groups such as the Town Advisory Group established to review in concert with other boards development projects when requested by any town department.
In addition to the above support, the office is relied upon on a daily basis for wetlands or conservation restriction information on specific properties by many area realtors and potential home-buyers and for information about conservation lands. Homeowners planning future projects review old files maintained by the office from as far back as 1973 containing helpful information accrued from years of wetland filing activities. During 2011, the office was contacted many times by residents for advice concerning correspondence received relative to the 100-year flood zone mapped on their property.
The Commission conducted its annual interview with the farmers licensed to work on its conservation land under their license agreement. The Commission is grateful for our farmers’ efforts to maintain the land’s agricultural value at no cost to the town. Mark Duffy, George Fraser, Dick Shohet, John Valentine and John Bakewell all helped the commission to continue the town’s desire to maintain its rural character by supporting, encouraging and promoting agriculture in town (a Town Meeting resolution, 1994). In February, 2011, the commission requested, received and approved applications for three-year agricultural license agreements for Foss Farm, Fox Hill, Bisbee, Fiske Meadow and Greenough Conservation Lands. John Valentine, the long-time farmer for the Hutchins and Robbins fields notified the Conservation Commission that he will retire. The Conservation Commission is greatly appreciative of the special care he provided these agricultural lands. For the third year, the sugar maple trees planted many years ago by local Boy Scouts on the Towle Conservation Land were tapped, this year by Gaining Ground, Inc. a Concord based provider of fresh produce to the needy families. Their buckets could be easily seen from Westford Street and added to the scenic rural vista along that roadway in late winter.
Foss Farm Conservation Land still appears to be one of the most frequently used conservation properties by individuals, by groups and for research. The winter of 2011 provided an abundance of snow, allowing for excellent though informal, x-c skiing. The property also continues to be used for dog training by several sled dog teams during cold weather, an activity begun on the property more than twenty years prior to town ownership of the property. This activity is still ably coordinated by Bob Dennison. The Old North Bridge Hounds Club was also given a permit to train at Foss Farm. The North Bridge Pony Club continues their planned youth-oriented equestrian training and events in the pony ring, dressage ring, open and trail areas. Their spring 2-Phase event is impressive to watch and their work to maintain the portion of the property they use is appreciated. Foss again was the site of the annual spring evening Woodcock Walk conducted by Conservation Commission member Tom Brownrigg and his wife D’Ann in order to see and hear the Woodcock’s display. In November Carlisle Cub Scouts held their annual day-long rocket launching event. Again the property was used for bio-surveillance training and monitoring of a resident colony of a non-stinging ground nesting wasps, Cerceris fumipennis, by the U.S. Forest Service. The purpose is for early detection of the invasive insect the Emerald Ash Borer. It is always interesting to note the wide-ranging activities and studies made possible by Carlisle’s conservation lands. New this year, was a use permit issued to the Massachusetts Canine Response Team for search and rescue team training on all Carlisle Conservation Lands.
Towle Conservation Land continues to be a concern the detrimental effects of poison ivy and invasive buckthorn shrubs. Conservation Commission member Tom Brownrigg conducted an extensive mapping of the Towle field area and organized a site inspection of the area by Ted Elliman of the New England Wildflower Society and Mike Sawyers, a plant specialist working for the Landowner Incentive Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Mr. Sawyer’s report provided several proposed methods for consideration to improve the habitat of this special property. This past summer, for the first time in at least 25 years, no breeding pairs of the ground nesting Bobolink were found.
Foss Farm is also the location of approximately 100 community garden plots for use during the growing season by residents and by people in area towns. The management team headed by Jack O’Connor, with able assistance from Ed Humm and Carol Foster is tasked with implementing the 2009 rules, revised in 2011, to which gardeners are still adjusting. Their efforts are commendable. The Conservation Commission and the gardeners are grateful for farmer Mark Duffy who has for many years volunteered to disc the community gardens area in the spring in preparation for the new growing season.
With cooperation from the licensed farmers for Fox Hill, the Carlisle Public Schools cross country team conducted some of their training around the edges of Fox Hill, providing an off-road training opportunity for these young people.
The Commission continued to watch the restoration and recovery of the MacAfee conservation land located beyond the Tall Pine neighborhood following a significant tree removal and grading violation. In addition to work to repair the damage caused by this activity, the person responsible for the damage provided permanent public trail for access from Carlisle through private land to the public trail on the Avery-Holmes property owned by CCF and to the Bruce Freeman Trail in Westford and Chelmsford via Sleigh Road. The Conservation Commission is grateful for the effort made by CCF’s Steve Hinton and others for this important linkage into other towns.
The Commission sponsored public events during the year: the April family vernal pool walk jointly with the Trails Committee and with former Conservation Commissioner and wildlife biologist Christine Kavalauskas, an annual evening Woodcock walk on Foss Farm, and the Riverfest Sunrise Canoe Trip on the Concord River in June. It also co-sponsored with the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, a talk by Douglas Tallamy on the detrimental environmental effects of invasive plants, an increasing problem in the Carlisle landscape. The Commission continues the public Conservation Coffees on the second Tuesday of most months at 7:30 AM in Town Hall. During these coffees, interested residents and invited speakers meet informally to discuss a broad range of local environmental, wildlife and land use subjects. For these coffees we were again able to bring to Carlisle, professionals from state agencies and others to inform residents about their specific areas of expertise. We were fortunate to have this year:Pat Huckery of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on living with wildlife, Libby Herland, Manager of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge complex, members of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation to speak about the campaign to purchase property along the Concord River, Cory Atkins, our representative to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and members of the Land Stewardship Committee to speak about all their latest conservation land activities.
Carlisle has many special wetland habitats called vernal pools and to date 54 vernal pools have been certified, giving these outstanding resources enhanced protection. This year 6 new pools were certified by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) with observational documentation submitted to them by conservation commission member Tom Brownrigg. Most pools were on public land, but some on private land and were certified at the request of the property owner.
On Old Home Day, the Conservation Commission presented the Annual Conservationist of the Year Award to the past president of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, Sally Swift for her dedication and stewardship of open space in Carlisle.
Peter Burn, Chairman
Kelly Guarino, Vice Chair
ADVISORY COMMITTEE The Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC) advises the Town on the acceptance of new conservation restrictions (CRs) and monitors those conservation restrictions held by the Town. The committee strives to educate CR-holders and the general public regarding the benefits of conservation restrictions, namely, preservation of open space, scenic vistas and wildlife habitat.
One new Conservation Restriction was created on Skelton Road. This restriction will maintain a scenic vista and will be adjacent to another Conservation Restriction which will create public access on the Concord River.
Congress renewed the enhanced tax incentive for conservation easements (restrictions). The bill was passed in December of 2010 and the incentive was in effect through December 31, 2011 and is retroactive to January 1, 2010.
The committee sent out its informational letter with Frequently Asked Questions sheet to all owners of properties where the town holds the Conservation Restriction. After several years passing without sending out this package, the committee felt it would be prudent to remind long time CR holders and new residents who have bought properties with a CR on it to be informed of their responsibilities concerning the CR.
Violations of CRs are a continuing concern. Violations found during inspections this year were corrected with letters required to be sent to the CR holders.
Inspections were completed on:
CR46 May 1
CR23 and 24 August 13
John Keating (chair)
Wayne Davis (secretary)
Jenifer Bush(Conservation Commission Member)
Marc Lamere (Trails Committee and Planning Board Member)
Liz Carpenter (Land Stewardship Committee and Open Space and Recreation Committee)
The committee is grateful for the assistance of Sylvia Willard, Conservation Commission Administrator.
LAND STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE The Land Stewardship Committee (LSC) was created as a permanent sub-committee of the Conservation Commission (Cons Com) in December 2005. The charter of the LSC is to support Cons Com in managing Town-owned conservation land. LSC currently has seven members; two appointments were renewed in 2011 and three positions are coming up for three-year renewal in June 2012.
In keeping with the mandate to support Cons Com, the LSC has been involved with presenting to Cons Com comprehensive guidelines for assessing conservation land use, analyzing incursions on conservation land, reviewing agricultural activities, preservation of an historic structure on conservation land, applying for funding to control invasive species, drafting Other Power Driven Mobility Devices regulations, assessing the appropriateness of a new trail at Foss Farm and helping to address various other land management issues.
During 2010, a LSC subgroup developed a draft “Conservation Land: Guidelines for Use” document and a “Conservation Land Matrix” (a spreadsheet documenting relevant characteristics of each conservation parcel). These documents are intended to provide guidance to Cons Com when making decisions on proposed uses of conservation lands. The document was presented to Cons Com in 2011 and approved.
There were incursions and vandalism on several conservation parcels in 2011, including the Greenough Barn, the Greenough Skating Shed, the Mannis Lands and the Cranberry Bog. The matter with the Cranberry Bog has been resolved but the others are still ongoing.
One LSC member helped review the agricultural licenses for 2011. LSC agreed to help Cons Com with a review and revision of the license agreements to be granted in the future.
A major preservation and restoration project for the 106-year-old Cranberry Bog House was essentially completed this year. An ad hoc committee consisting of two LSC members, the Conservation Administrator and three other members prepared bid invitation documents that were published in April 2011. A contractor was selected in June, and work by that contractor was essentially complete by the end of the year. The work included installing, upgrading, repairing, or replacing structural and other components of the building, including support posts, beams, joists, floors, sills, exits, roofing, gutters, windows and shingles. This preservation effort was considered essential to insure that the Bog House continued to provide storage space for agricultural equipment and safe apartments for agricultural workers, for the current (and future) licensee farmer(s).
The SuAsCo CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area) is a partnership of organizations that intend to manage and control invasive species in the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord (SuAsCo) watershed. The LSC participated in a proposal submitted by the SuAsCo CISMA to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for funds to control invasive plant species on several parcels including Foss Farm. The proposed work at Foss Farm includes edge maintenance of the open areas targeting non-native invasive species including buckthorn, multi-flora rose, and oriental bittersweet.
In response to a new federal regulation, a LSC member worked with other committees to prepare rules for Town conservation land regarding Other Power Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs). OPDMDs are any motorized vehicle or device that could provide access on trails for the disabled. The Town can define what kinds of OPDMDs are allowed based on five specific criteria. The overall goal is to provide a wide range of ways for the disabled to enjoy conservation lands while protecting the environment and other trail users. The rules for the Town are near final draft form and anticipated to be adopted by Cons Com in 2012.
A proposal was made by Carlisle residents to add a new trail at Foss Farm to improve access for local area residents, especially those on horseback, and allow safe entry to Foss Farm. One of the LSC members has joined with the Carlisle Trails Committee and the Carlisle Police to assess this proposal. This process is ongoing.
A new effort this year is the Carlisle-Chelmsford Joint Cranberry Bog Committee. The purpose of this new committee is to share common concerns about the adjoining cranberry bog conservation lands in the two towns and to maintain a continuing dialog with our neighboring town’s conservation committee. A LSC member, a Cons Com member and the Conservation Administrator serve on this committee.
In addition to supporting Cons Com, the LSC sponsored a joint conservation committee meeting with the Cons Com, the Trails Committee, the Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC) and CCF to share information and discuss land management issues concerning all the various committees and the local land trust.
Carlisle generated a total of 2,911 tons of solid waste in 2011. There were 1,874 tons of trash taken to the NESWC incinerator for disposal and 1,037 tons were recycled. This was a recycling rate of 35.6%. Approximately 1,800 households purchased dump stickers. That is a total of 3,230 pounds of material per household.
The following is the list of recycled materials for 2011.
Total Revenue ($)*
Wood (Construction Debris)
Milk Jugs (See mixed plastic)
Aluminum and Tin Cans
__ _ 0
* The amounts received and total revenues are the year-end figures.
Historical Summary (Tons)
• The recycling committee participated in the Old Home Day with an information booth. Home composting was one of the main topics of promotion. The booth was shared with Carlisle Grows Green, the Carlisle School organic garden and lunch composting project. It was exciting to share with the residents the great success of the project so far. A big “Thank You” to CHRC member Launa Zimmaro for her hard work in helping to get the project started and training all the student helpers.
• The “Green Disk” collection of electronic media (tapes, disks, CD) for recycling continued at the swap shed.
• A Municipal Outreach Grant of $750 was obtained from the State. At the end of the year an order was placed for a whole new set of signs at the Transfer Station. They will arrive in early 2012.
• A Municipal Assistance Grant was obtained from the State (Dept. of Environmental Protection) for 30 hours of in-kind technical assistance from the Regional Municipal Assistance Coordinator (Carolyn Dann). This was utilized to evaluate changes/options to our trash and recycling processes in town in order to increase the amounts of materials recycled.
• A pilot collection day for Styrofoam was held at the Transfer Station in mid-January utilizing the services of the ReFoamIt Company from Framingham, MA. This trial was quite successful. The ReFoamIt staff was impressed with the amount and quality of the material collected. The committee worked together with the highway dept. to initiate the permanent collection of Styrofoam in May. Since then we have been collecting a large roll-off container full each month. The weight is not substantial but it has diverted a large volume of material from the trash containers which must be hauled to the incinerator for disposal.
• The CHRC endorsed and supported an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) petition that asks the state legislature to enact EPR regulations in Massachusetts. The EPR petition was presented to and approved by the Selectmen. The idea behind EPR is that the manufacturer of a product is responsible for the recycling or disposal of the product at the end of its useful life. That relieves the Town from having to pay for the recycling or disposal.
Robert Peary, Chairman
Gary Davis (DPW)
PLANNING BOARD The Carlisle Planning Board is a seven-member elected board with two positions for appointed Associate Members, supported by a Planning Administrator and a part-time Administrative Assistant. Massachusetts state statutes and the Town’s bylaws establish specific responsibilities and requirements for the Planning Board.
The Board reviews and approves the division of land under the Subdivision Control Law (MGL Ch. 41) and the Board’s Subdivision Rules and Regulations. It also serves as the Special Permit Granting Authority as authorized by the state Zoning Act (MGL Ch. 40A) and the Carlisle Zoning Bylaws for various types of land use and development petitions, including those for common driveways, conservation clusters, senior residential open space community developments, personal wireless service facilities, and accessory apartments. Under MGL Ch. 40, the Planning Board also must give its consent before any alterations are made to trees and stone walls along the Town’s Scenic Roads. Further, the Planning Board serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Selectmen for site plan review of non-residential development, and to the Zoning Board of Appeals for Comprehensive Permits for affordable housing development under MGL Ch. 40B. The Zoning Act also requires the Board to guide the process of Zoning Bylaw amendments through Town Meeting.
Beyond these responsibilities, the Planning Board is also charged by state law (MGL Ch. 41) to “make careful studies and when necessary prepare plans of the resources, possibilities and needs of the town, and…submit to the selectmen a report thereon, with its recommendations.” This charge also includes the Board’s responsibility to prepare, from time to time, a master plan or study plan of the town. Although the most recent study plan was adopted by Town Meeting in 1995, the Planning Board regularly assists other boards in the preparation of more focused and contemporary plans that are required by the Commonwealth. These include a Housing Production Plan approved by the state in 2010 and a comprehensive update of the Open Space and Recreation Plan undertaken this year and expected to be completed in 2013.
Mission The Board’s overall responsibility under state law is to protect the health, safety and welfare of Carlisle’s residents. Guided by the General Laws of the Commonwealth, the Zoning Bylaw, the Study Plan, and citizens’ comments and concerns, the Board strives to preserve and enhance the integrity of Carlisle’s character through the use of its regulatory tools, while also safeguarding property owners’ rights. To achieve these goals, the Board recommends and specifies changes to development proposals through the permitting process. Board members and staff strive to work with project proponents, technical advisors, and citizens to shape development projects so as to preserve resources and minimize negative impacts upon the community.
2011 Developments/Site Plan Review Consistent with the above mission, the Planning Board has long emphasized its attempts to manage residential growth in Carlisle, rather than simply permitting it in response to development applications. Increasingly, tracts proposed for development in Carlisle have been either large parcels that long-term owners have kept out of development for many years or parcels with serious constraints on development such as extensive ledge or wetlands, minimal upland, and/or access issues. The latter category of parcels proposed for development, those with serious constraints, requires increased coordination among the land use boards to address often interrelated issues of stormwater management, water supply, sewage disposal, and surface water and groundwater protection.
From 2006 - 2008, the Planning Board experienced extremely high levels of land development permitting. However, in the past two years, 2010 - 2011, development applications have decreased markedly and only 7 building permits for new homes have been issued each year. Nevertheless, most of the new building lots created since 2006 remain unsold, and there is a potential of at least 70-75 new, as-of-right dwelling units to be built in the future, primarily in the sections of town south and west of the town center.
While in 2011 the Planning Board continued to oversee the buildout of roadways and other infrastructure at Hanover Hill, Greystone Crossing and Chestnut Estates (see table summarizing Carlisle’s development status below), it also approved the development of a significant, 41.5-acre parcel of land at the corner of River and Skelton Roads, with approximately 1,000 feet of frontage on the Concord River. To be known as “Elliott Farms,” recognizing the family that has long lived and raised horses on this land, the development will consist of 6 building lots, 4 to be served by an extended common driveway for which the Board issued an amended special permit. Two of these lots, each containing 7 acres or more, are expected to remain in agricultural use. In addition, the land owners have worked with the Carlisle Conservation Foundation and the Sudbury Valley Trustees to make available for purchase one of the riverfront lots for conservation protection and to establish public access to the river. Shortly after this approval, the owner of an adjacent 18-acre riverfront parcel presented an Approval Not Required (ANR) Plan to the Board for its endorsement, creating four additional new building lots while preserving through a Conservation Restriction (CR) an open field along a public way. It is hoped that the development of all these neighboring parcels will employ conservation restrictions and/or limited impact development (LID) measures to preserve additional rural vistas, treed areas and open fields to the greatest extent feasible.
In its role under the Zoning Bylaws as technical advisor to the Selectmen for Site Plan Review, early in the year the Planning Board reviewed and made its recommendations on a proposed amendment to the Site Plan Approval originally granted in 2008 to expand Ferns Country Store in the town center. This amendment, subsequently approved by the Selectmen, modified use provisions to allow customers to bring their own beer and wine to be consumed within an interior seating area.
Alternative Energy Facilities In 2010, the Carlisle Energy Task Force (CETF) began its efforts to satisfy the criteria for the Town to be designated as a “Green Community” by the state, bringing with it eligibility for state funding of municipal energy conservation improvements. One key to receiving this designation is to offer as-of-right zoning for sustainable energy generation facilities. The CETF asked the Planning Board to assist with developing an amendment to the Zoning Bylaws that would provide a suitable overlay district where photovoltaic solar panels could be installed to produce energy to be used by the Town and/or sold back to the power grid. Several Town-owned sites were evaluated, and the CETF, with guidance from the Planning Board, placed an article on the 2011 Town Meeting warrant that designated a portion of the DPW transfer station where this use would be allowed. In its role as the body that hears the public’s comments on proposed zoning changes and then makes formal recommendations to Town Meeting, the Board held the requisite hearings and recommended approval to Town Meeting. More than 2/3 of Town Meeting voters supported the recommendations of the Planning Board and CETF members with respect to these facilities, thus enabling the Town to be eligible to receive state Green Communities funding.
Affordable Housing The Planning Board has also been active in the Town’s efforts to create affordable housing while protecting the Town’s residents from negative impacts from projects that could be developed under Chapter 40B of the Massachusetts Statutes (“Comprehensive Permits”), which allow a developer to override Town bylaws or regulations. One major Planning Board initiative has been a multi-year process to coordinate development regulations town-wide to achieve the above goals.
In 2009, the Board coordinated the preparation and adoption of a set of development regulations to achieve “horizontal alignment” across the land use boards, as applicable. This initiative involved the creation of (1) a set of common development standards, (2) guidelines for the use of interdisciplinary Town Advisory Groups (TAG’s), and (3) a shared agreement for the reimbursement of project review expenses by all applicants. These three components were integrated into revised Comprehensive Permit regulations adopted by the Board of Appeals, and the Planning Board’s drafts of the second and third components were each adopted by the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission.
In 2010, the Planning Board prepared a similar but more comprehensive set of amendments to its own Subdivision Rules and Regulations. It solicited comments from other boards and from peer review engineers, held a public hearing on the revisions, and adopted revised Subdivision Rules and Regulations in April, 2010. Following that, the Board turned to revisions of its rules and regulations governing special permits under which certain housing developments may also proceed, which include those for Conservation Clusters, Common Driveways and Senior Residential Open Space Communities (SROSC). None of these had been updated and amended since 1995, and so more comprehensive revisions were necessary. The Board adopted revised Conservation Cluster and Common Driveway regulations in July, 2010, and revised SROSC regulations in June, 2011.
In other attempts to facilitate the development of affordable housing, the Board has continued to work this year with the Housing Authority and the Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust to create local regulations for affordable accessory apartments under deed restriction. Although this program in Carlisle was approved by the state near the end of 2008, the form of deed restriction and other details of the program acceptable to both the Planning Board and the Housing Authority have yet to be approved in their final form by the state’s DHCD. To support another local initiative of the Housing Authority, the Planning Board designated one of its members to serve on the Banta-Davis Task Force, formed late in the year. The charge to this group is to study possible uses of this Town property with emphasis on establishing a site of affordable housing units.
Zoning Bylaw Interpretation As described above, the role of the Planning Board is to review proposed Zoning Bylaw amendments and to create site-specific zoning conditions through its special permit granting authority. But it must generally depend upon others, specifically the Building Commissioner and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), to regularly interpret and enforce its special permits and the zoning bylaws. Appeals to actions or decisions of either of these entities are limited to “parties in interest,” generally the abutters to a site subject to a zoning decision who would be directly affected by it. A further provision of state law, however, gives the Planning Board specific “standing” to appeal such decisions when members believe that is necessary to protect the interests of the Town as a whole. After the Building Commissioner granted a building permit this fall to expand a detached “guest house” on a common driveway off River Road in a manner that some believed constituted a second dwelling on the lot in violation of the zoning bylaws, two citizens appealed the permit to the ZBA. Realizing that those citizens might not have legal standing, and that the permit appeared to be also in violation of a condition in the Planning Board’s common driveway special permit, the Board decided to file its own appeal of the Building Commissioner’s decision with the ZBA. With the approval of the Town Administrator, the Board consulted with Town Counsel concerning this appeal.
The ZBA hearing was held in early December and the Planning Board’s appeal to overturn the Building Commissioner’s decision failed as a result of a 2-1 vote. (Two members were in agreement with the Planning Board’s position, but a unanimous 3-0 vote is required to overturn the Building Commissioner’s decision.)
Planning Beyond Town Boundaries The Planning Board was asked to take roles in several regional and state-wide initiatives this year that could be a benefit to the residents of Carlisle. The MAPC, the Boston-area regional planning agency, requested the Board’s formal support for the Comprehensive Land Use Reform and Partnership Act (CLURPA), pending before the state Senate. This legislation would modernize the statutes under which planning and zoning actions at the local level are conducted, as well as provide funding for municipal master planning. After review and discussion, the Board was pleased to endorse CLURPA.
The Board was also happy to support two regional applications for grant support. The first was for a HUD Sustainable Communities grant to carry out the second phase of a Suburban Mobility Transit Study for the MAGIC (subregional) area of 13 towns. The second was a collaborative effort among Westford, Acton and Carlisle for a MassWorks infrastructure grant to extend the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to create and provide access
to interim parking for users of that trail near its current terminus at Routes 225 and 27. Unfortunately, neither of these grant proposals were funded this year, but the Board expects other funding will be sought for both projects.
Construction Management A substantial portion of the Planning Board’s work involves the oversight of land development projects during the construction process until completion to ensure that each development is consistent with the Board’s approval. The amendments adopted in 2010 and 2011 to the Board’s various regulations, as discussed above, included a requirement for a construction management plan (“CMP”) for all projects of four or more lots or units to be developed by the applicant following the Board’s guidelines. The intent of the CMP is to encourage discussion with the developer to reduce the negative impact of large construction projects on the town and the neighborhood, and give the Board another tool to manage such construction.
While several previously-approved projects required the Board’s oversight during 2011, as reported last year, one in particular—Chestnut Estates on Rutland Street—proved more challenging than most. The schedule and the challenges of both the site and the design required substantial oversight by Town staff and the Board’s peer review engineers. Abutters had complained of repetitive, protracted, intrusive noise from the equipment used to remove the extraordinary amount of ledge that was encountered by the developer, and subsequently proposed that the Town adopt a noise control bylaw to address situations like this in the future. With the support of the Selectmen, the Planning Board and the Board of Health worked cooperatively to respond to this request, but concluded that a comprehensive noise bylaw was too general and complex a tool to solve the problem. Instead, the Planning Board proposed and, after public discussion, adopted in November a written Policy for Noise Control to be administered through the CMP provisions that already existed in its various development rules and regulations.
The status of all current and proposed development, as of December 31, 2011, is summarized below: