Board schedules hearing about Venincasa's bond


Westborough – The Planning Board's ongoing struggle to get developer Steven Venincasa to complete a long list of work at the Orchard Hill subdivision has led to the board's issuing an ultimatum at its Aug. 13 meeting.

If the work is not completed by the end of August, the board said, it would schedule a public hearing to pull Venincasa's construction bond. On Aug. 27, Town Engineer Carl Balduf said that while some work has been done, it's unclear whether all items would be completed in time to prevent the public hearing.

The board has been trying to get Venincasa to fix crumbling roads and to address a host of other issues at Orchard Hill, an over-55 condo development off Adams Street, since June 2006. In December 2006, the board revoked foundation permits for 10 buildings in the subdivision because Venincasa had not fixed crumbling paving and deteriorating driveways.

In March, Balduf drew up a list of work totaling $672,600 that needed to be done at Orchard Hills, along with a schedule for work completion. According to Balduf and Town Planner James Robbins, Venincasa agreed to do the work within the timeframe proposed by Balduf. That work schedule required most work to be done by June.

At the Aug. 13 meeting, Venincasa told the board that he didn't want to do all of the pavement work on Balduf's list because, in his opinion, some of it should not have been required as it was in a diff erent phase.

"I'm confused that we're moving out of phase," he said. "I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm trying to clarify it."

The board consulted the subdivision's plans, and concluded that the required work was not in a diff erent phase.

Alan Dodd, Venincasa's attorney, told the board that it was time to "bring it to an end," and while pulling the construction bond was not the ideal situation, he didn't know what else could be done.

Lot 17

The Planning Board also discussed with Venincasa the stone wall and plantings he'd installed on lot 17, at the corner of Gilmore Farm Road and Adams. Balduf told the board that the trees should be removed because they were within the sight easement included in the subdivision permit, and would impede a clear view of the intersection.

A stone wall on the property was also built within the sight easement and impeded a clear view of traffic, Balduf said, so Venincasa was instructed to lower it. But, Balduf told the board, "it still impedes the sight line" and "it must go." Balduf noted that the project's site plan approval "does not show a wall."

Venincasa told the board that the trees and wall were "aesthetically pleasing" and were planted to make the lot more attractive. And, he said, his engineer had said it was all right to build the wall. He asked the board to take the attractiveness of the lot into consideration.

Robbins replied that the town would rather "lose landscaping than someone's life in a fatal car crash at that intersection."