Mauro Farm plan changes presented to commission
Marlborough – In a meeting June 21, Marlborough's Conservation Commission heard about changes to a development at 150 Cook Lane that the developers are making to ease concerns voiced by neighbors.
The development at the Mauro Farm site has been criticized for a dense housing plan that would put 27 houses on 16 acres. The siting of detention ponds and the building of a wall to support a new road have also drawn criticism from neighbors.
After a walk-through of the site by city officials June 20, the plans were altered and the amendments presented to the commission at its meeting the following day.
One of the civil engineers on the project, Benjamin Smith, of Tunison Smith of Easton, told the commission that the two detention ponds would be moved. That would allow more space between a pond and one of the nearby houses, owned by Fred Ebert. The revised plan would also result in 11,000 square feet of trees to be cut rather than 17,500 square feet of trees in the original plan.
The revised plan also lowers a wall to be built near Ebert's house, which would be needed to support a new cul-de-sac in the planned development. Most of the wall would now be eight feet tall rather than 10 feet for most, with one section previously rising to 16 feet.
Ebert said he is glad to see the changes to the pond and the wall.
"I appreciate the fact that they've moved the detention pond," he said. "They are working with us as far as I can see."
But residents said they are unhappy with other aspects of the plan. Several abutters said they were concerned by a possible increase in water runoff from the site.
"We are concerned about possible runoff from the lawns," resident Mary O'Malley said. "We know people use pesticides now."
Smith replied the runoff would be directed away from nearby houses and into the two detention ponds to be built on the site.
Neighbors also said they would like to see more space between their houses and the ones in the plan. And they criticized the plan for a new playground to be built in the middle of the development.
"Why do we need a playground?" O'Malley asked. "What is the purpose?"
She said it could cause extra traffic into the neighborhood.
Local resident Jim Breen agreed.
"The playground area … it just doesn't make sense in this development," he said.
Smith explained that the developer was acting on the stated wishes of the city and the neighbors.
"The reason for the playground is not due to the desire of the developer," Smith said. "This was a demand of the Planning Board and many of the abutters."
The playground sits on a level spot of land in the middle of the development. The plan calls for a stonecovered parking lot for four cars to be built for users of the playground.
Neighbors said they would like to see a 25-foot-wide walking path around the development built instead of the playground. That would increase the separation between the new construction and existing houses. It would also, they said, allow more trees to be left on the site.
Smith said it would be difficult to compress the proposed houses farther into the center of the development because people want space when they buy plots of land.
"You have to sell the houses," Smith said.
He added that the developer, Capital Group Properties, was willing to spend $5,000 on landscaping for each abutting lot to shield the houses from the development.
Breen said that plan was not as good as a walkway.
"It seems giving people $5,000 for landscaping when there already existing trees doesn't make much fiscal sense," Breen said.
He added that leaving more trees would also benefit wildlife, such as deer, because animals walk through the area regularly and use the existing vegetation for cover.
The commission asked the civil engineer to redraw the plans to better show the proposed changes and illustrate the existing boundaries of vegetation. It continued the hearing to the next meeting of the commission Thursday July 5.
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