Planning Council votes to allow Foxhollow developer to eliminate Stone Wall

At Monday’s planning council meeting, council voted unanimously that a subdivision developer is within its rights to eliminate plans to rebuild a 400-foot stone wall behind three houses in the Foxhollow Road development off Pond Street.

The stone wall was to serve in part as a permanent building barrier (BIP) behind lots 10 to 12 to discourage encroachment into the adjoining forest and buffer zones. However, Engineer Eric Dias of Tunison Dias, representing the claimant, FTC Foxhollow, noted that there is already a rock-covered slope and that there are conservation markers on the trees – satisfying the Conservation Commission. The wall must have protruded a few meters from the bottom of the slope, just in front of the tree line. Adding to the concern there are septic systems at the bottom of the slope as they have been moved from the front of the lots.

The owners have expressed their support for the elimination of the wall plan.

Planning board chairman Gary Trendel said he was more concerned with procedure than anything else.

“I struggle with this a bit because the drawings show that the wall needs to be moved,” Trendel said. “At the same time, I recognize that there are some issues. First, I’m not sure it affects the decision criteria. … Second, the reality was that even if we asked them to build this stone wall, they would build it with new stones which they had to bring by truck, they would build it on a septic tank on three plots of private property which I did not don’t necessarily want the stone wall.

“So I feel like as a board we are in a difficult position here, because although we like to preserve the stone walls, we are also in a position where it doesn’t seem there. have – to me anyway – there doesn’t seem to be a good result.

Senior planner John Gelcich noted that despite the wall shown on the plan, it is not covered by a bylaw.

“There is no requirement in the regulations to provide for stone walls,” he said. “So we really need some kind of regulatory flaw to have a no vote on this. If it was a condition, it is something different, because a condition is something that the applicant essentially would have agreed to do. But there was no condition for requiring the installation of stone walls. It is therefore difficult to apply.

Charles Dauchy of the Hopkinton Area Land Trust said his organization also saw no problem removing the wall from the plan. The woodlands are owned by the Sudbury Valley Trustees, ceded to them as part of the open space preservation development.

Council discusses design standards

Following Foxhollow’s public meeting, the board discussed the possibility of making a proposal to the community preservation committee for affordable housing and considering possible changes to the design standards for the subdivisions.

“I hope everyone’s wheels are spinning a bit here,” Trendel said towards the end of the meeting. “I think we’ve all been frustrated at times by things that we end up approving of that we don’t really feel good about. I think we have opportunities to make updates here and to do some updates that I think will help us. [Member Fran DeYoung’s] the comments also weigh heavily on me, as the developers are usually in the driver’s seat. How can we make updates that help better align what the developers are offering with what we think makes a good community and good development.

This discussion was to continue on January 31.

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