WOBURN - Predicting the design change will trigger a series of new special permit modifications, Ward 7 Alderman Lindsay Higgins refused to immediately endorse a Burlington developer's request to add a basement to a garage at a West Side subdivision.
During a recent meeting in City Hall, 15 Sorelle Place resident Aldo Gallinelli told the City Council that he wants to add the below-grade level to the proposed two-bay structure in order to avoid the expense of trucking in hundreds of cubic yards of gravel.
However, Higgins, referencing previous issues with fill being pushed near conservation land bordering the unusual subdivision — which sits within three separate communities — urged her colleagues to tread carefully regarding the petition.
"I remember when you came here the first time, and I said I didn't want to see you here again. Yet, here we are," said the West Side alderman, referencing the council's initial special permit deliberations about the garage in 2016.
"I've personally sent people out there to look at [possible issues regarding earthworks], so I'm wary to give you any more wiggle room on this," she later said. "I'm not comfortable with this. I think it should go to committee and be vetted more."
Ultimately, the full council deferred to the West Side official's judgement and continued the public hearing until June 18. The matter was further sent to the Special Permits Committee.
In unique circumstances, Gallinelli's 4,896 square foot residence at 15 Sorelle Place has a Burlington address, despite technically being located in the City of Woburn. The 3.36-acre lot, part of a larger 12-lot subdivision that also includes land in Lexington and Burlington, is roughly bordered by a forested area between Ryan Field, Lowell Street, and Burlington's Middlesex Commons site.
Gallinelli's Sorelle Place homestead is tucked away to the rear of the larger subdivision, and the builder intends to use his sprawling front yard area for farming. According to the developer, he will be storing tractors in the garage, as well as a pickup truck with a plow that he uses to clear snow from the larger subdivision.
"I own the whole street," said Gallinelli.
Nearly three years ago, the Burlington developer obtained permission to construct the two-bay garage. However, he didn't begin work until last year, when he realized soils on the site were unsuitable for supporting the structure.
He ultimately had to dig down 12-feet to remove that fill. The builder then had the foundation poured, but when Woburn building department learned the property owner wanted to change the design, he was instructed to return to the City Council.
"The foundation is completely below ground. So instead of filling that hole with 440 yards of gravel, which amounts to $14,000, I decided to build a structural floor with a basement underneath," he explained.
Gallinelli, who did not explain what he plans to do with the basement space, contended the special permit modification does not alter his plans to store snow removal and farming equipment within the barn/garage.
According to Higgins, she was concerned about other aspect's of the special permit change, including apparent references on the design plan to attach 10-foot wide garage doors, dimensions which are forbidden under Woburn's zoning code.
The builder was not pleased with the council's decision to continue the deliberations until next month.
"Sir, the foundation is already finished and inspected. I can fill that foundation with gravel, and I don't have to come here," he remarked, when City Council President Michael Anderson appraised the petitioner that a final vote was not forthcoming.
"Well, if you want to wait for permission to [build a basement], then you'll be hearing from the clerk's office," Anderson responded matter-of-factly.