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Planning Board Minutes 11/20/2014

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


DATE:           November 20, 2013

TIME:                   7:10 PM

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex

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

MINUTES:                As referred in the November 6, 2013 Meeting Agenda
                        October 16, 2013        m/s/c   3/0/0
                        November 6, 2013        m/s/c   3/0/0



Mr. Stephenson referred the Board to the agenda, noting that their first appointment was running late. The Board Secretary informed the Board that Ms. Flynn had re-scheduled her appointment until December 4, 2013.   

Mr. Stephenson asked the Board if they were prepared to vote on the minutes. All present replied in the affirmative, and Mr. Thompson moved to accept the minutes of 16 October 2013 and 06 November 2013. Said motion was seconded by Mr. Seidman.

The Board members reviewed and signed their bills.  Mr. Peak joined the Board at 7:18 PM

1.      Section 04.05.04, R3A District
2.      Section 07.03.04, Wedges and Irregular Shaped Lots
3.      Section 07.04, Deep Lot
4.      Section 07.01, Multi-Union Dwellings

The hearing duly opened at 7:22 PM. Mr. Peak read the hearing notice in its entirety into the minutes, and the board members introduced themselves at the Planning Board Co-Chairman’s request.

Mr. Peak began the discussions with a brief explanation of the statutory requirements governing the submittal, review and adoption of zoning bylaw amendments, and the public hearing process. He explained that they bylaw amendments in this particular case were submitted by the Planning Board.

Mr. Peak recommended explaining the intent for each of the proposed amendments before opening the discussions to the board and public, and began with:

A) Residential District R3A:
Revise the second paragraph in Section 04.05.04 which reads “One (1) non-habitation detached subsidiary structure (e.g. garage, greenhouse, barn, etc.) with a total floor area not to exceed one-half (1/2) the total floor area of the principal structure” to state “One (1) non-residential detached accessory use (e.g. pool, tennis court, etc.) or structure (e.g. garage, greenhouse, barn, etc.) with a total area not to exceed one-half (1/2) the total floor area of the principal structure”

Mr. Peak noted that the R3A was within the Groundwater Protection District which was created to protect the aquifer. The restrictions adopted for the R3A District severely limited the number of buildings on the properties to decrease the amount of waste water being discharged into the ground and to prevent overdevelopment , which would inhibit the recharge of the aquifer through the open land area.  

He noted that the subsidiary structures referred to in the bylaw have always been interpreted to include swimming pools, and tennis courts, in addition to the garages, sheds and similar non-habitable, subsidiary structures, because they all covered a similar amount of land in an impervious way .  

Given that the regulation was recently challenged to state differently, they were asked to revise the bylaw to clarify the intent and the application of this particular limitation.

B) General Regulations:
·       Revise Section 07.03.04 (Wedges and Irregular Shaped Lots) by adding a second paragraph to read “Said regulation does not apply to the further division of lots created in an original subdivision.

The regulation allowed people to utilize their properties in a way that would be difficult in a single roadway with a turnaround at the end. It permitted developers to adjust the property lines of the lots to create irregularly shaped parcels under certain criteria.

In recent history, applicants have submitted applications to the Planning Board with proposals to re-subdivide single lots in odd ways that exceeded the ANR statute to create more lots that may not be advantageous in terms of overall zoning in the area.

In an attempt to clarify the intent of the bylaw and to prevent further abuse of the regulation, the Planning Board added language specifying that the allowance was restricted to the original subdivision of land.  

Mr. Peak also recommended revising the language to include ANRs, because of a recent application.  He suggested adding “… original subdivision or in a division of land not requiring a subdivision approval”. Mr. Peak thought they could also state ” Where two (2) or more lots are created by a Form C Subdivision, no more than one (1) irregular shaped lot, with respect to hereinafter fifty feet….” He thought it interesting that the language did not refer to Form C divisions specifically, as opposed to an ANR, when they language implies that the allowance can be applied in applications with the creation of a road.

Mr. Seidman thought the restriction should apply to both Form C and ANR applications, to prevent future abuses of the regulation.  Mr. Peak thought his recommendation would clearly limit the allowance to Form C applications as originally intended. Mr. Seidman preferred Mr. Peak’s recommendation.

·       Revise Section 07.04 (Deep Lot Provisions) by striking the underlined text.

Where a lot fronting on a public way has sufficient frontage to meet Schedule A (section 13.00) requirements and sufficient additional frontage to provide for an access way to the rear and sufficient area in the rear for one (1) or two (2) additional lots, the Planning Board may endorse* or approve* a plan creating such rear lots and accesses, provided:

- the lot fronting on the public way has    sufficient frontage to meet the district
- requirements set forth in Schedule A (section 13.00) and additionally has sufficient frontage for an access way of thirty (30) foot width in the R10, R20, and R25 Districts and forty (40) foot width in all other Districts;
- the access way is laid out along one of the depth boundary lines such that an existing or proposed structure meets the Schedule A (section 13.00) side setbacks;
- the access way is continuous to the rearmost lot in full width, forty (40) or thirty (30) feet as applicable;
- the intervening lot, if any, between the front and rear lots, fronts on the access way for at least the frontage required by Schedule A (section 13.00);
- the access way , from the public way to the rear lot, is or becomes a part of the rear lot;
- the layout of the proposed access way would not conflict with any existent or proposed public way patterns or existing subdivision ways; and,
- in the R3A District, application of this section shall be under ‘subdivision’ (Chapter 41, MGL meaning of ‘subdivision’) processing rules only.

*re:  Chapter 41, sections 81K through 81GG, MGL (a/k/a The Subdivision Control Law); to ‘endorse’ means to endorse that approval under the subdivision control law is not required; to ‘approve’ means to approve as a subdivision.  There are specific requirements relating to a division of land, whether or not a subdivision, set forth in Chapter 41, MGL.

Mr. Peak explained that the proposal was to eliminate all language pertaining to the creation of the middle lot, because it allowed applicants to create a lot off a right-of way, instead of a road, as required by state statute. It was an amendment; the Board attempted a few years back, after consulting with Town Counsel, but failed to pass at town meeting.
It expanded the qualifications for a Form A, normally allowed by statute. Town residents however would still have the ability to utilize the Deep Lot provision to create one (1) additional lot.

·       Revise Section 07.11 (Multi-Unit Dwellings – Special Permit Determination) by adding the language in bold print, and striking the underlined text

The Planning Board shall, in accordance with Special Permit procedures, make a determination of the need and consistency with public policy of any plan or development proposing Multi-Unit Dwelling structures in residential districts in all zoning districts. No permits endorsing or approving plans or authorizing facility or structure construction shall be issued in conflict with, or in excess of said determination. These provisions are applicable to single lots, multiple lots, developments and subdivisions; they are not applicable to the uses permitted in Section 04.00 (Residential Districts)

The board secretary noted that she had accidentally omitted a number from the referenced bylaw and intended “Section 07.11” otherwise the title and language was correct.

The proposed bylaw amendment expanded the Planning Board’s purview within the special permitting procedures, so that they could comment on any plan or development proposing multi-unit dwelling structures in all zoning districts. It would allow them to comment on housing developments within the business and commercial districts.

The discussions were open to the Board and members of the public. There being none, Mr. Peak asked the Board if they were prepared to close the public hearing and to enter into deliberations.  Mr. Seidman replied in the affirmative, and entered a motion to close the public hearing so that they could open the deliberations. Mr. Stephenson seconded the motion, which motion carried:  4/0/0

1.      Section 04.05.04, R3A District
2.      Section 07.03.04, Wedges and Irregular Shaped Lots
3.      Section 07.04, Deep Lot
4.      Section 07.11, Multi-Union Dwellings

Mr. Peak reminded the board that the bylaw amendment of S. 04.05.04 was intended to clarify the original intent to limit development in the district to protect the aquifer.

Mr. Seidman recommended voting on all bylaw amendments en mass, unless the board had any questions or issues with any of the proposals.  Mr. Peak deferred to the Board, and they agreed.

Mr. Peak entertained a motion to endorse and recommend the bylaw amendments. Mr. Seidman moved to endorse and recommend the bylaw amendments as presented, with the exception of the amendment to section 07.03.04, which was to be revised to include “by a Form C Subdivision”.   Mr. Thompson seconded the motion, and the motion carried. 4/0/0

There being no further discussion, Mr. Peak entertained another motion to close the deliberations.  Mr. Stephenson so moved, and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion. Said motion carried. 4/0/0   The deliberations were duly closed at 7:52 PM.

8:00 PM JAY GRANDE RE: 14 PINE STREET, AP 24A24 (4.19 acres)

Board members were advised that the Board of Selectmen had placed an article to acquire 14 Pine Street on the Special Town Meeting warrant, and wanted to solicit the Planning Board’s position on the proposal. The Selectmen were particularly interested in hearing any recommendations about the parcel’s potential use(s) in advance of Special Town Meeting on 10 December 2013.

Mr. Grande indicated that in his discussions with the Finance & Advisory Committee, he explained that the property was in close proximity to the downtown area, adjacent to municipal property (ESF building), and backed up to existing leaching fields, which will be decommissioned sometime in the future.  The Board of Selectmen were of the impression that the property had the potential for a variety of uses, such as the future site of a new town hall, police station, athletic fields or a combination of several uses. He clarified for the record that the Selectmen were not looking for specific ideas, but general possibilities (single use vs. multiple uses).

The property in question is currently under a PNS agreement, but the town has made positive steps to try to acquire it outright before going into agreement. They believe it is “a good piece of land”, and have researched its purchase for wick type infrastructure because of the property’s potential.

Mr. Israel indicated that the Board of Selectmen have been looking at the parcel well over a year, and have approached the Superintendent about the property, since he was looking to larger quarters in which to expand.  The Selectmen were not entertaining any plans to demolish the existing house, because they were of the opinion that the structure could be renovated to suit their needs.  Mr. Israel that the property presented an opportunity they could not miss.

Mr. Peak inquired if the house was presently occupied.  Mr. Israel replied that house had been vacant for quite a while and on the market for a very long period of time. He wanted to clarify for the record, that the town had been working with the owners for some time and was not dispossessing anyone. The Selectmen have matched the active buyer’s offer, and could not offer additional information on the matter, except to say that it was being presented to the town at special town meeting.   

Mr. Stephenson inquired about the availability of the corner lot currently occupied by the superintendent’s office. If the Board of Selectmen were contemplating the construction of a new town hall at that relocation they were going to need the corner lot.

Mr. Grande reiterated that the Selectmen would be interested in their comments, recommendations and support, and hoped to continue the discussions, once the Board had time to walk the property at their next meeting on December 4, 2013.

Mr. Lee inquired if they were aware of any structural limitations they’d have to consider, relative to the proposed use(s). Mr. Peak explained that the subject was simply being raised to give the board the opportunity to think about the Selectmen’s proposal.  If he was interested in an in-depth discussion, he was welcomed to join them at their meeting on December 4, 2013.


Mr. Grande learned that the town had voted to acquire Cromwell Lane over a decade ago, but failed to complete the directive. He has been directed by the Board of Selectmen to follow through on the task to create a public access along that roadway.
Mr. Seidman inquired about the warrant article’s particulars and asked Mr. Grande if he a copy of the warrant article .  Mr. Grande indicated that the town voted to raise four thousand dollars and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to acquire any interest in Cromwell Lane aka Norton Lane as necessary from other persons, including fee interest, absolute interest, by purchase, eminent domain or otherwise. Mr. Grande and the Board noted that the language was vague about what town meeting actually intended.

Given that the article was unclear about the purpose for acquiring Cromwell Lane, Mr. Grande noted that the Planning Board had referenced the lane in several of their reports. He wanted the Planning Board to delineate their idea(s) for the particular type of access (pathway, public way, etc.) they envisioned for the road. The information would determine the type and amount of land they had to acquire by purchase, easement, fee interest or eminent domain.  He needed clarity from the Planning Board on the actual width, and its use. Mr. Grande wanted to revisit the topic with the Planning Board in advance of the Annual Town Meeting.

Mr. Israel recalled that there were issues getting the ambulances and emergency vehicles through the municipal parking lot. It may have been what precipitated the warrant article. Mr. Peak remembered that the police and ambulance did occasionally use the road.

Mr. Stephenson noted that they had to be cognizant of the fact that the lane has been used as an access by a multitude of users, and viewed as a vital linkage in the Island-wide Multi-use Shared Pathway to the Steamship Authority from different points in town. He’s also noted that they have successfully converted pedestrian walkways into streets, and vice-versa as needed in Europe. A concept they could try here. They needed the layout of the road to determine what they could do.

Mr. Grande explained that the road layout depended on the use(s) and the intensity of use. They had to identify a series of ideas, their impact, feasibility, and the limitations in balancing all of the various interests. Once this is clarified, they will know what the layout of the road needs to be to pursue the title searches and acquisitions.

Mr. Peak thought they needed a larger scale copy of the immediate area to illustrate specifically the parcels of land they will need to accomplish the end purpose. Mr. Grande offered to provide the Board a plan.  

Mr. Israel commented that NStar had promised to remove the one pole on Beach Road near Cromwell Lane. Stop-N-Shop’s plans to have a loading dock on Cromwell Lane concerned him, because it would impact their plans for the road.

Mr. Hodson inquired if the town had a plan of the road layout or easement. He had been trying to locate one.  Mr. Grande replied that he had a certified copy.  Mr. Hodson inquired if they had funds to pursue any potential purchases of land or easements.  Mr. Israel replied that they had the four thousand dollars the town voted in 1995/1996.  Mr. Grande reiterated that the intent for the purpose of the article was not clear, and decided to revisit the article with the town and inquire what they wanted for the present time.

Mr. Hodson inquired if the warrant article had an expiration date. Mr. Grande replied in the negative. Mr. Hodson inquired if the topic would return to town for another vote. Mr. Grande replied that they would have to go back to town if there was a specific right-of-way that had to be defined.

Catherine Scott inquired if the town is obligated to inform the property owners, and abutters of any of their proposals.  Mr. Israel replied in the affirmative, and clarified that the process is still in the preliminary phase. Mr. Stephenson agreed that a public process was mandatory.

Mr. Lee noted that he was almost struck twice by a car on exiting the Mansion House’s parking lot in the back of the building off Cromwell Lane. On both occasions the cars were speeding down the road, which presented a dangerous situation for all pedestrians.

Mr. Peak advised Mr. Lee that the town in their discussions will have to control the traffic to accommodate the pedestrians and cyclists, yet still allow the property owners to gain access to their residences and businesses. It was a topic for future board meetings.

Mr. Grande also recommended reviewing the Special Town Meeting Warrant at their next meeting because the Board of Selectmen was proposing the sale of a parcel that constituted 25% of 1/8 of a lot the MV Land Bank wanted to purchase.  They were interested in the Planning Board’s comments and support.  Mr. Peak agreed and noted that they will discuss the warrant articles at their meeting on December 4, 2013.


1. Zoning Bylaw Amendments
A. Medical Marijuana Centers
B. Site Plan Review Board/Committee
C. Multi-Units in Residential Districts
D. Section 05.12.01

2. Stop & Shop
RE: Proposal for a new store
Attendance: Hyuan S Lee,  Dana Hodson, Catherine Scott, Cheryl ??

Board members were advised that the MV Commission had continued the applicant’s hearing to discuss the proposal’s impact on traffic, and that the Land Use Planning Committee’s meeting on November 18, 2013 was also limited to the one topic.

Mr. Stephenson attended the meeting and reported that the discussions left everyone with more questions, because it was uncertain whether the report was definitive. Ms. Catherine Scott indicated that there were two conflicting reports.  Mr. Lee concurred noting that Carrie Pike, a member of the Traffic Study Peer Review quietly challenged the applicant’s traffic consultant’s (Randy Hart) statistics.

Mr. Lee continued to state that the discussions on traffic impact were limited to Five Corners, Water Street and the areas outside the parking lot.  

Ms. Scott, a town resident noted that Mr. Hart’s handouts were very difficult to understand, whereas Ms. Pike’s one page handout clarified some of the issues, and highlighted some of the discrepancies that were being discussed. The one statistic that leaped out at her was the number of cars that had to pass through Five Corners at peak time. They forecasted 1842 cars had to go through Five Corners at the rate of one vehicle every two seconds. The figure did not include or allow for pedestrian or bike movement.

Mr. Stephenson noted that Stop & Shop made the assumption that 80% of the people coming down State Road would make a left hand turn onto Main Street to get to Norton Lane.  Cheryl, a town resident questioned the logic in the applicant’s proposal, when they were proposing to close Norton Lane. Mr. Stephenson noted that most people instinctively go through Five Corners.

Mr. Lee expressed a concern about the timing of the proposal to re-design the parking lot, and the Board of Selectmen’s interest in acquiring Norton Lane, and thought they were inter-related to the applicant’s proposal for a loading dock where Midnight Farm use to operate. The best location for the loading dock was Water Street, and he suspected that the proposals to re-design the parking lot may be part of a larger strategy to solicit support for their expansion into the municipal parking lot.

Mr. Lee agreed that the majority of customers heading to the store and the SSA would probably drive down Main Street to Norton Lane, adding to the congestions. Mr. Peak did not agree with the assumption. Mr. Lee and Mr. Hodson had driven the area several times, and based on their observation, the only way they could move the traffic was with a traffic light.

Ms. Scott found it remarkable that Stop & Shop has been “sitting very tightly” on their plan and has made very few revisions from the original proposal. She questioned whether the applicant ever consulted the Fire Chief, Police Chief or Emergency personnel, when they came with a proposal to close down Norton Lane. It indicated a lack of due diligence on their part in developing the site. She felt they were being quite stubborn in their demands of the town and have not demonstrated any interest in reciprocating their generosity. She was concerned that there were people in town that seem to want to facilitate the applicant’s project at any cost.   It was her impression that the applicant should have brought the town a few plans to look at. Ms. Scott was concerned about the proposal for a parking garage, the structure’s mass, and the location of the loading dock. She hoped the town would insist on a better design and solutions for the traffic they had to accommodate. She did not want to see the improvements to the municipal parking lot facilitate the applicant’s proposal.

Mr. Stephenson understood, and clarified that the MV Commission was the only agency with the power to review the proposal, and ask the applicant to revise their plans.  Mr. Lee noted that the MV Commission was looking at the town to resolve the issues with the municipal parking lot. Discussions ensued with regards to the dangers in having both pedestrian and vehicular traffic on Cromwell Lane. Mr. Lee thought it has been primarily used for vehicular access, with some pedestrian movement. Mrs. Doble believed they could design the road to discourage vehicular traffic. Mr. Lee spoke of spy cameras and their use to deter speeding.  He also thought the Board had to determine how they wanted to use the road. If they were interested in utilizing the road for pedestrians and cyclists, the road surface and landscape or streetscape should make this obvious.  Ms. Scott thought they could also use a sign restricting traffic to residents.

Ms. Scott noted that the applicant, Stop-N-Shop is unable to meet the parking demand of their clientele without the use of the municipal parking lot. A larger store with additional an additional parking demand would leave less parking spaces for the surrounding businesses. Ms. Scott in addition also questioned the applicant’s participation in the design committee, and believed it was a conflict of interest.

Additional discussions ensued, and Mr. Lee voice his concern about the Selectmen’s comments about dissolving the Parking Lot Design Committee, and asked the Planning Board for assistance.  The Planning Board understood Mr. Lee’s frustrations and sympathized with him. They explained that it was simply part of town politics.

3. Henry Stephenson
RE: Connector Road – Upper State Road (Draft Power Point presentation for special town meeting on 12/10/2013)

Prior to the power point presentation, Mr. Israel indicated that the layout had several safety issues.  He believed the left hand turns to gain access to State Road presented would have a negative impact on traffic and create a safety hazard.  He could not support the article, because there were other issues with the layout. Mr. Israel left the meeting at 9:14 PM.

Mr. Stephenson informed the Board that he had created a power point presentation about the connector road for the DPW’s warrant article at special town meeting. He wanted to present his work to the Planning Board to solicit their opinions about the format,  content, and improvements.

The presentation illustrated the existing road system,  its inadequacies and resulting traffic congestion. He offered an alternate layout that would reduce the traffic congestion and remedy the traffic hazards currently experienced at certain intersections. Mr. Stephenson included the results of traffic studies, which dispelled the belief that the congestion we experienced was generated by island visitors.  He clearly demonstrated that the issue was no longer seasonal, and generated by islanders heading towards work, home or the business district.

The proposed layout filtered traffic into the three branches that led to State Road. Motorists were dispersed towards the downtown area, the BII District  and up-island .
 It gave the up-island residents alternate routes to the SSA, Business District I and other destinations.  Mr. Stephenson reinforced the point that the road was just the start of a long term project, which involved the area’s overall development.

At the conclusion of the twelve minute presentation, Mr. Stephenson asked the board for their comments. Mr. Peak did not think Mr. Stephenson should rush through the presentation, and felt he could simplify the presentation by deleting the charts depicting the standards on the level of service, because the majority of the people at the meeting were familiar with the topic. The additional details were not necessary.

Mrs. Doble thought the colors on the chart were too busy and distracting. Mr. Seidman agreed. Mr. Grande recommended separating the slides so that it would be easy for Mr. Stephenson to go back and forth on the different graphs during the discussion of the presentation.

Mrs. Doble noted that it was important to illustrate the existing infrastructure. Mr. Grande recommended having an overlay over an aerial to distinguish the proposed from the existing sections of the connector road.

Mr. Lee did not understand what Mr. Stephenson was trying to convey in his presentation until the end, when he illustrated the connector road’s layout. He agreed with Mr. Grande’s recommendation to correlate each of the segments of the road with their corresponding images.  He thought a cover page at the start of the presentation should be added.   Mr. Lee also suggested incorporating overlays illustrating various stages of development ( at 10 years, 20 years, etc.) over the area to give people an idea about the types of development that could occur.

Additional discussions ensued, and Mr. Stephenson thanked everyone for their recommendations.  Mr. Seidman departed at 9:45 PM.

4. Downtown and the Waterfront Planning Alternatives
RE:  Needs updating

5. Planning Board Meeting Schedule for January 2014

Mr. Peak recommended revising their meeting schedule for the month of January, due to the holidays. He suggested meeting on January 8 and January 22, 2014. Board members agreed.


1.      M V Commission
A.      11/15/13 Extended Meeting Schedule
B.      21 November 2013 Meeting Agenda
C.      Martha’s Vineyard Housing Needs Assessment/Summary Findings 2103

2.      DEP
RE: Comcast & NStar Submarine Cable (Final License)

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 10:20 P.M.  
                        (m/s/c  4/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________          _________________________
Date                    L. Anthony Peak