Planning Board Sticks With Decisions On Proposed Development Across From Roudenbush

On Monday night, the Westford Planning Board decided to stick with a set of decisions they made in November regarding a proposed housing development that would be located almost directly across from the Roudenbush Community Center.

Attorney Douglas Deschenes and developer David Guthrie came before the board requesting reconsideration of several waivers relating to a three new homes on a street that would be called Kinloch Drive.

The proposed street would begin across from Roudenbush as part of an easement on the western portion of 66 Main St., running parallel to the existing Wheeler Lane, and moving into a parcel of land behind 66 Main St without access to any other roads.

In 2014, the Board of Selectmen decided not to exercise their right of first refusal on a restriction attached to the land after a buffer was agreed upon between the proposed houses and the nearby Tom Paul Trail.

Part of the slide showing the intersections of Main Street, Wheeler Lane and where Kinloch Drive would be, just above (north) Wheeler Lane.

Part of the slide showing the intersections of Main Street, Wheeler Lane and where Kinloch Drive would be, just above (north) Wheeler Lane.

Deschenes presented a new site plan to the board that would remove sidewalks on the first 375 feet of the proposed road and would adjust the paved roadway width to 18 feet, a diameter Deschenes indicated was acceptable by the Westford Fire Department.

He also proposed additional evergreen trees within rights of way along the proposed street within the first 375 feet to limit traffic impacts to 66 Main St. residents Regina and John Conway as well as residents of Wheeler Lane.

Additionally, Deschenes said that Guthrie would agree to pay for sidewalks elsewhere in town where they might be needed more as a condition of approval for the waivers.

Several Wheeler Lane and other nearby residents voiced their concerns with the proposal and urged the Planning Board to stick to their initial decisions in November.

The Conways also urged that the Planning Board stick to their decision, with Regina noting the historical significance of the part of her property that would be impacted by the new street.

“We love this property, we love our neighbors, we want to keep the nature of the center of Westford,” she said.

Both the Conways also were opposed to the trees, with John indicating that the proposal was designed without his consultation.

The Board initially wanted to decide whether to reconsider denying a waiver that would reduce the right-of-way requirement for the street from 50 to 30 feet, but it was decided that waiver would be moot if the Board did not approve reconsidering the need for sidewalks on both sides of the proposed road.

A vote on the right-of-way was tabled, with a vote on reconsidering the sidewalk requirement failing 3-2, with Kate Hollister and Darren Wiszt voting in favor of reconsideration.

The Board also moved to a waiver is not required for 20-foot wide temporary construction easement outside the right of way along the proposed street. This motion passed 4-1, with Mike Green voting in opposition.

Lastly, the Board voted 4-1 to require a minimum of at least seven trees along the entrance of the proposed roadway, up from four, with Hollister voting in opposition to the motion. However, Planning Board Member Matt Lewin noted that Guthrie already proposed far more trees as part of the new layout of the development earlier in the meeting.

Later in the meeting, the Planning Board also unanimously voted to recommend three proposed warrant articles, also unanimously voting to recommend removing the definition of “heavy manufacturing” from one of the warrant articles.

A full video of the meeting will be available on WestfordCAT later this week.

Disclosure: Guthrie’s development company, Wescon, directly abuts WestfordCAT’s office, which is currently expanding into Wescon’s former location.