TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Planning Board met for a virtual meeting via WebEx on Feb. 22, 2021.
The board observed a moment of silence in recognition of over 500,000 coronavirus related deaths as of that day.
The board also discussed the governor’s changes to zoning best practices and housing through his recent Housing Choice legislation, lowering the requirement for a vote from a supermajority to a simple majority.
Town Planner Anna McGinty said that the state planned to distribute more information about the rollout in the coming weeks.
The board reviewed a special permit extension request for 937 North St. Attorney Dick Cuoco explained that the project was the subject of litigation, and the land court recently found in favor of the applicant. Cuoco asked for a three-year extension on the project permit, citing COVID-19 and financing as current barriers to project completion.
The board approved the extension, making the permit valid into 2024.
The board conducted a concept plan review for 920 & 978 Livingston St. Consultant Jim Hanley, on behalf of developer Arnie Martel, explained that the project will have three single-family homes and a private drive. The project sought several waivers, including a sidewalk construction waiver.
Members shared concerns over the location of the driveway and asked if Martel would be amenable to contributing to the town sidewalk fund in place of constructing sidewalks.
Martel planned to come back to the board’s March 8 meeting to discuss the project further.
The board reviewed an approval not required plan for 37 Marston St. Member Vinny Fratalia recused himself from the discussion. Representative Cuoco explained that the proponent is seeking to relocate a lot line to create four lots.
Three lots will have single family homes, and one 5.8 acre parcel will be maintained for the future possibility that it might be annexed to Rogers Park for open space.
The board endorsed the ANR plan.
The board reviewed an approval not required plan for 927-937 North St. Proponent Cuoco explained that the proponent is seeking to consolidate several lots.
The board endorsed the ANR plan.
The board reviewed a definitive subdivision/open space residential design plan for 1009 Livingston St., “Grammy’s Way.” Proponent John Sullivan and consultant Jim Hanley explained that the proposed project will have three single-family homes. The project sought several waivers from the board.
Members highlighted stormwater concerns and requested approval for the plan from the fire department. Pending further information, the board continued the discussion to March 22.
The board discussed a definitive subdivision/open space residential design plan for 181 Pine St. Representative David Plunkett updated the board about abutter agreements, including plans for a land swap. The proponent is going to submit plans to the town in advance of the board’s March 22 meeting.
“We’ve had a lot of delays for this,” said chairman Bob Fowler. “We don’t want people to turn on their TV and not have anyone here.”
The board continued the issue to March 22.
The board returned to a discussion about a site plan special permit, special permit, and land disturbance permit for 935 Main St., the site of the former police station.
Proponent Mike Saccone, consultant Andy Street, and attorney Plunkett explained that the land was purchased through a request for proposal from the town. The project proposes 18 residential units and one mixed-use building.
As part of the land purchase agreement, Saccone will be providing 20 parking spaces to the Tewksbury Housing Authority on Carnation Drive.
Street said that the team had met with housing authority staff to discuss minimizing impact of the parking lot to residents. Plunkett asserted that the town’s affordable housing requirement does not apply to the development due to the zoning.
Members discussed a four foot vegetative buffer between the parking lot and Carnation Drive and reviewed a letter from THA executive director Melissa Maniscalco.
Member Jay Delaney raised concerns over light and noise, stating that he was “trying to protect the people who live in elderly housing.”
Plunkett and Street introduced a guard shack at the parking lot as part of the parcel’s commercial component, which member Eric Ryder called “an embarrassment.”
He also stated that “the board can require affordable housing if we so choose as a board. If you choose not to do it, you do not have to build the project... we are the appointing authority here... this has turned into a way for the applicant to get his development in and use a guard shack as a commercial component to circumvent the rules of the town center overlay district... I can’t believe, as a member who sat on this board and tried to do good for the town, [Plunkett] brings that in front of us. I think that is ridiculous.”
Plunkett said that his team had not been “anything other than professional and courteous... I did have the interest of the town in mind over 20 years… I don’t appreciate that kind of attitude.”
Chairman Fowler attempted to quell the heated discussion. Johnson reminded his colleagues that the board had previously expressed concerns over the security of the spaces.
Saccone said that he had been working in conjunction with the town for four years to accommodate the board’s requests. Housing authority director Maniscalco called in to the meeting to share a concern over the property’s setback requirement and to discuss a vegetation plan to secure residents’ privacy.
Fowler asked Masicalco and Street to meet to come up with a plan. The board continued the discussion to the March 8 meeting.
The board continued a site plan special permit discussion for 913 East St. to the March 8 meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 8, 2021. Residents wishing to comment may find the call-in number on their screen and on the meeting agenda on the town website. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33.