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Planning Board Minutes 06/19/2013

P.O. BOX 602
(508) 696-4270
Fax (508) 696-7341


DATE:           June 19, 2013
TIME:                   7:00 PM

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex

ATTENDANCE:     Aldrin, Peak, Seidman, Stephenson, and Thompson

BILLS:          Inquirer and Mirror, Inc………………………$69.00

MINUTES:                As referred in the MAY 15, 2013 Meeting Agenda
                        15 May 2013     m/s/c   5/0/0
05 June 2013    m/s/c   5/0/0


7:00 PM House Business

Douglas Dowling’s Form A Application, AP 23A42
Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Seidman were informed that Mr. Dowling had submitted an application for a division of land proposing to incorporate a segment of the road layout into the perimeter deed to increase his front yard setback.

Mr. Peak advised the board members that he had spoken with town counsel about the application earlier in the day, and was asked to send a digital copy of the plan and all other pertinent information for a response.

Mr. Grande mentioned that Mr. Wohler, the Water Department’s Superintendent had requested access to town counsel, without sharing any of the specifics for the request. He asked Mr. Peak if he could explain what the Water Department’s interests were in the application.

Mr. Peak explained Mr. Dowling had initially proposed to modify the property lines of three (3) lots within the subdivision to gain land area he needed to meet the setback requirements for his addition.  The modification substantially reduced the town’s linear frontage to render it nonconforming.  He understood that the Water Commissioners did not have an issue with the proposal, because the lot was purchased by the town for the sole purpose of protecting the public well on West Spring Street.  The site assignment rendered the lot undevelopable, so that the reduction in the frontage did not have any bearing on the intended use of the lot.

The Water Commissioners supported the proposal, but fell short of endorsing the plan, until town counsel verified whether or not the town was liable for the road association fees, if a road association was ever revitalized. The Superintendent questioned Mr. Dowling’s claim, and recommended contacting town counsel.

Mr. Peak informed Mr. Grande that the lots were part of a subdivision that predated the Subdivision Control Law. In this particular case, where he could not find any evidence that the developer reserved a fee in the road, the property owners abutting the road owned to the centerline of the road. The fact they owned the land to the centerline of the road did not give them the right to alter the use of the land in the road layout, other than for its intended use.

Mr. Grande noted that the proposed modification impacted town property, so that they did have an interest to protect.  He felt Mr. Dowling should have enlisted the town as a co-applicant, given that it was part of the proposal. Mr. Seidman agreed.

Mr. Peak believed that any change in a road layout required a signed consent by everyone in the development. He did not think the Planning Board could endorse the plan, because implied that the board had the authority to re-assign a person’s right(s)  to another individual.

Mr. Grande asked the Board about their deadline. Mr. Peak noted that the applicant submitted his application to the Board on June 10, so that they had to make a decision by July 1st.  They had to meet on June 26th to meet the deadline.

Board members and Mr. Grande were also advised that the applicant, Mr. Dowling had revised his initial proposal, so that the current plan limited the modification to the road layout to Mr. Dowling’s linear frontage.

7:15 PM Jay Grande Re: Stop & Shop, Water Street

Mr. Peak verified that Mr. Grande’s invitation to the Planning Board was to help clarify the Board of Selectmen’s position on Stop & Shop’s expansion. The board members in addition wanted to share the same information, so that the town could present themselves positively, even though they may disagree on certain issues.  Tonight’s meeting was therefore structured to initiate the discussion with the Board of Selectmen.

Mr. Grande understood, and reported that the Board of Selectmen had not formally met on the topic to formulate a position on the proposal. They’ve held ad hoc discussions on related topics that ranged from removing the restroom and relocating generators to rat control management. He’s prepared a list of the Board of Selectmen’s topics for the Planning Board’s meeting tonight. He also agreed that it was extremely important for the town to speak with one mind. He wanted to create a voice for the town, but was finding it difficult when the local planning board did not appear to have any regulatory control over the project. It was unusual for him to see that the regional planning agency wielded the control. Mr. Grande, nonetheless was trying to work on a solution, and thought the Board of Selectmen could possibly have the legal instruments to use as leverage with the Stop & Shop.

Mr. Grande noted that he had met with Mr. London and explained that while the Board of Selectmen may have expressed a strong opinion, they’ve not taken a formal position on the project.  He referred to the list of topics and began the discussions with Traffic Circulation to explain that the Board of Selectmen had discussed the possibility of improving Cromwell Street and allowing some level of traffic into Beach Road. They also considered the possibility of converting the street into a pedestrian way.

There was discussion of eliminating the westerly curb cut on Water Street to mitigate the traffic conflicts close to the Five Corner intersection. On the other hand by eliminating the curb cut, and the need for Norton Street, the town could create a public space.  Norton Street could also be clearly delineated with a streetscape and crosswalks. Mr. Grande noted that the striping delineating the crosswalks were substandard based on the type and volume of traffic in the area, and could be easily improved.

Mr. Grande wanted to discuss the concept of possibly negotiating a traffic fund, where the applicant has to contribute  a significant amount up front to open its door for business, or prior to obtaining a building permit. The fund would be used for capital improvements or planning purposes, and include annual payments that could be used to improve or increase parking opportunities or address other issues within the study area.

Mr. Seidman did not understand how the town would be able to get the applicant to contribute to the fund. Mr. Grande replied that it could be part of the negotiations for the use of the easements (the area where the trucks are stationed, the parking lot), but admitted that he had to look into the possibility further. All he knew was that the legal instruments had to be renegotiated. Mr. Stephenson thought subject could be tied to the applicant’s proposal to re-organization the town’s parking lot.

Mr. Seidman advised the Board that he managed to speak with one of the delivery truck drivers at Stop & Shop and learned that the deliveries would in fact double with the expansion. Mr. Peak spoke with the manager at the Stop & Shop store in Edgartown to inquire about their deliveries as well, and learned that they normally scheduled 2 trucks per day in the winter, 2 trucks (up to 4 truck deliveries) per day in the summer. This did not include the independent delivery trucks, which would add an additional 5-6 deliveries per day. If the new store was to be equal in size, the manager did not think the total number of deliveries between the two stores would be significantly different.

Mr. Stephenson thought it important to demonstrate to the community that Stop & Shop’s proposal will have a significant impact on the downtown circulation, Five Corners, the location of crosswalks, the parking spaces and arrangements that raised the need for a more in-depth study.   He did not want the in-depth study postponed to a ‘later’ time, because it would never get done.

Mr. Grande noted that planning studies varied in scope and time, variables that had to be considered with the review process and the applicant’s time schedule. Mr. Stephenson thought they could take an intermediate approach, short of hiring a consultant, and step forward to express their concerns on the more obvious improvements, such as the adequacy of the front sidewalk, the crosswalks, and streetscape. It was important to make the entrance to the island and town much more graceful and inviting for the pedestrians. The recommended improvements did not have to be studied. They simply had to be implemented. Mr. Stephenson also noted that he was very skeptical of closing down Norton Lane, and questioned the logic in doing so, when they’ve been working on improving the pedestrian system in the downtown area. He clarified that he wanted to avoid arguing over some of the design issues, when a professional consultant could study all of the options and make a determination on the best altenative.

Mr. Peak thought the Planning Board should take a different approach to explain their issues with the proposal, and thought Mr. Stephenson could create a conceptual design to illustrate the pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle usage of the entire area. The conceptual design would include their proposal for crosswalks, traveled ways and sidewalks from Five Corners to Union Street, from Union Street to Main Street,  from Five Corners to Cromwell Lane and from Cromwell Lane to Norton Lane - Main Street.   He added that the Board of Selectmen could also improve the area if they considered taking some of the land area by eminent domain.  Mr. Grande informed the Board that they were presently undertaking a title search of Cromwell Lane.  

Mr. Grande inquired asked the Board if they had an opinion with regards to the restrooms.  The Selectmen hoped they could resolve a problem for the police station by relocating the generator. Mr. Stephenson did not think it served the public to have the public restrooms in the rear of the store near the loading dock. An alternative to the proposal would be to convert the old ambulance bay into a public restroom. Mr. Grande thought the restrooms could work if they were accessible from the outside of the store. Mr. Peak did not see an issue with the suggestion, as long as the amenity did not interfere with the other traffic.

Mr. Grande understood, noting that the issues the Planning Board were discussing pertained to site design and design elements, which he assumed the Board of Selectmen would defer to them. He wanted to negotiate long-term benefits for the town when they renegotiated the legal instruments.   Mr. Peak believed the Town had the ability to use its leverage with the MV Commission. The town simply had to organize themselves to demonstrate to the Commission that the detriments of a project outweighed the benefits to the town.

Mr. Peak thought the Planning Board and/or Board of Selectmen should submit a letter to the Editor stating their issues and urging people to attend the hearing if they shared those concerns, i.e. massiveness of the building, aesthetics.  He did not want the site design issues overlooked in the flurry of activity, so that it precluded them from being considered. Mr. Grande understood, and noted that while the Planning Board’s issues were site specific, the Board of Selectmen were looking at the project from a different perspective (financial benefit).

Mr. Stephenson thought it was important for the MV Commission to hear from the town’s administration. Mrs. Loberg inquired if the Planning Board had contacted the Board of Selectmen or discussed any of the issues being presented. Mr. Peak explained tonight’s meeting was schedule for that purpose.

Mr. Peak asked Mr. Grande if there was anything he wanted from the Planning Board. Mr. Grande replied that while a pictorial rendering was a good recommendation, it would facilitate their discussions with the Board of Selectmen if they highlighted the ten most salient or key elements of the design (critique and recommendations) in order of priority, point by point. He understood that the Planning Board felt they had to take a position on the proposal, and wanted to avoid being at cross purpose with the Board of Selectmen.  

Mr. Aldrin understood that the new bridge’s construction was scheduled to start in the late fall. He inquired if anyone knew the applicant’s construction schedule for the store. Members replied that the applicant wanted to start construction in the fall, which could present an issue.  Mrs. Loberg mentioned that while the bridge was slated for construction in the fall, it was postponed until the spring of 2014.

Mr. Stephenson inquired about the timeline. Mr. Peak noted that the applicant’s hearing at the MV Commission was scheduled on July 11, 2013. He understood from Mr. London, that the Commission normally restricted the first session to the proposal’s presentation, so that it offered them additional time. Mr. Grande hoped to have the Planning Board’s material on July 2nd when the Board of Selectmen are scheduled to meet. Mr. Seidman noted that Mr. Stephenson has written several commentaries and letters on the proposal, which could be consolidated and streamlined down to the ten most salient issues.

8:25 PM Douglas O. Dowling Re; Form A Application, AP 23A42

Mr. Peak informed Mr. Dowling, that the Planning Board took the opportunity to discuss his proposal earlier in the evening with the Town Administrator. He had the opportunity to submit Mr. Dowling’s documentation to Town Counsel and waiting to hear from Mr. Doneski, so that he could discuss the issues the Planning Board had expressed at their last meeting. He did not realize that Mr. Dowling had formally submitted a revised plan until this evening. Mr. Peak wanted to send the revised materials to town counsel, before he spoke with him.  

Given that they were allowed 21 days to make a determination, he wanted to speak with the board about revising their meeting schedule to allow for an extra meeting on June 26th to render a determination. Board members did not express an issue with the recommendation for an additional meeting.

Mr. Dowling inquired if the Planning Board intended to discuss the town’s proposal or his application. Mr. Peak replied that town counsel had already received information about his initial inquiry. Mr. Doneski was not aware of Mr. Dowling’s application as of yet.  

Mr. Dowling mentioned that the application he submitted modified the road layout along the linear frontage of his property. He wanted to pursue this avenue, while the town and the abutters came to some agreement. Once endorsed, he would be able to obtain his building permit.

Mr. Peak reiterated that he wanted town counsel to address whether the Planning Board had the authority to transfer the rights of other individuals to the applicant, Mr. Dowling. Mr. Dowling differed of opinion, and believed that he was simply asking the Planning Board to modify his property line.

Mr. Dowling indicated that he had spoken with his neighbors, and they “appeared to be applicable to the idea” since they understood their rights were reserved.

Mr. Dowling asked if they planned to meet next week to render a determination. Mr. Peak replied in the affirmative.  Mr. Dowling requested a copy of counsel’s written determination prior to the meeting.  The Board agreed.  


1. Elections & Appointments for 2014

Board members agreed to defer until their next meeting on June 26, 2013.

2. Douglas O. Dowling
RE: Form A Application, AP 23A42


1.  Tisbury Conservation Commission
A. Public Hearing Notice – Margot Weston, AP 04D08 (Title V Upgrade)
B. Public Hearing Notice – Tisbury Marketplace Condominium Trust, AP 09B19 (removing center island/installing a walkway, landscaping)
C. Public Hearing Notice – Patty & Richard Vanderwarker, AP 02H01 (maintenance of a stair on a coastal bank)

2. Mass. Historical Commission
RE: 15 Cromwell Road House (Stop & Shop)

3. MV Commission
A. 14 June 2013 Extended Meeting Schedule
B. 20 June 2013 Meeting Agenda

4. Federal Emergency Management Agency – US Dept. of Homeland Security
RE: Updated preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps & Updared preliminary Flood Insurance Study

5. Massachusetts’s Municipal Association
RE: TheBeacon, June 2013

6. Thomson Reuters
RE: Zoning Bulletin, 25 May 2013

7. River Action Inc.
RE: Upper Mississippi River Conference in RiverCenter, Davenport IA (09/25-09/28)

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 8:45 P.M.           (m/s/c  5/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________  _________________________
Date                    L. Anthony Peak