DRB holds hearing on Kwiniaska development

The DRB has voted to classify the Kwiniaska development as a major subdivision. Photo by Boston Neary

Several townspeople attended the Development Review Board meeting on Dec. 7 to hear about the revised plan for the creation of 91 homes on the Kwiniaska property on the west side of Spear Street.

Chris Snyder of Snyder Custom Homes, the developer of the property, presented the revised sketch plan, noting that several changes had been made due to the input from the DRB and the public after a first unsuccessful attempt to gain approval earlier this year.

Notably, the number of houses has been reduced from 100 units to 91. Twenty-six single-family homes are planned for the northern end of the development, thirty-eight carriage homes closer to Spear Street, and 27 town homes grouped in threes on the western section of the property.

Approximately 24 acres will be left undeveloped as open space. Other alterations made in the plan will protect some of the existing tree growth, will have carriage homes face onto Spear Street, and adjust the access from Spear Street into the development.

Gail Albert, the Chair of the Natural Resources and Conservation Committee, expressed appreciation to Snyder for making these changes, but stated that the Committee remains concerned about stormwater and groundwater runoff into the Monroe Brook watershed and adjacent neighborhoods due to the increase in impervious surface, and the potential effect of blasting rock ledges for the foundations of the new homes.

Albert asked that a geologist be engaged to conduct a third-party review of the project to assess the potential effect of this development. Several other residents in the Collamer Circle neighborhood joined Albert in expressing concern about stormwater runoff onto their properties and potential damage to their homes from the blasting.

Snyder, and his engineering consultant Andy Rowe, responded that a stormwater runoff management system designed to handle a 100-year storm event was included in the design, and that release of groundwater caused by the blasting would be handled by the storm drains planned around the foundations of the new homes. Snyder added that the blasting company had insurance that would compensate owners of any homes damaged by the blasting, but added that he thought such damage was unlikely given the distance of the homes from the blasting area.

Tim Burke, the owner of a home in the Collamer Circle neighborhood, pointed out that even with the reduced number of homes now planned, the development would still have a much higher density than all other neighborhoods along Spear Street. Snyder responded that the zoning regulations have changed since those neighborhoods were built and that this development meets all the current zoning requirements.

Kate Fournier, also of the Collamer Circle neighborhood, questioned Tina Scharf, the consulting wildlife biologist retained by Snyder Homes, in a telephone conversation. Scharf reiterated her finding, submitted in a written report, that there are no rare, threatened or endangered species on the property, except perhaps the northern long-eared bat during the summer. The wooded portion of the parcel is highly degraded and does not provide good wildlife habitat for most animals. She stated that the greatest threat to wildlife was dogs, and Snyder Homes has agreed to covenants that would prevent more tree cutting once the homes are built as well as require dogs to be on leashes.

After hearing from the public and asking their own questions, the DRB voted to classify the project as a major subdivision, close the hearing, and make its decision after discussion in a closed deliberative session. A decision is expected to be made public after the next DRB meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

In other business, the DRB approved a Design Review and Conditional Use application for the replacement of a sign for Matthew Taylor Designs at 102 Harbor Road. The new sign will be slightly smaller than the existing one and made of different materials, but posted in the same location.

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