Proposed subdivision on Bald Hill Road/Route 100, marijuana grow facility on Tobey Road headed for public hearings

| Joanne Cole |

At their April 6 meeting, the planning board approved two straightforward applications and set up public hearings and further review for two more-complex ones: a five-lot subdivision at the corner of Bald Hill Road and Route 100 and a medical marijuana grow facility at 440 Tobey Road.  It was also a final planning board meeting for departing town planner Scott Hastings, and the board took the occasion to thank Hastings warmly and wish him well.

Boundary Brook Estates subdivision.  A proposed five-lot subdivision of single-family homes, Boundary Brook Estates, on 21.5 acres at the corner of Lewiston Road and Bald Hill Road will see a public hearing, tentatively penciled in for April 20.    

The property is located in the Groundwater Protection Zone and is an area with wetlands and a potentially problematic drinking water supply.  The application included a well driller’s letter expressing confidence in adequate water supplies, but the board was more concerned that owner-developer Dan Kibbin consider drinking water quality, among other issues. 

Recalling Upper Village well contamination, chair Don Libby and member Steve Libby discussed the benzene, MTBE, and salts in the area’s groundwater, along with the direction and speed of the various plumes.  Kibbin said that preliminary discussions with the NG Water District suggest that public water might be available for the subdivision if well water proves unusable.   

Water for fire suppression was another item that Kibbin will follow up on.  Board members wondered about fire ponds/dry hydrants within range and possible use of a Water District hydrant nearby.  Back-of-the-envelope calculations about modest gallons per minute available for firefighting led member Erik Hargreaves to joke that the planning board “limit them to small fires.”  Kibbin will follow up with the fire chief and develop a fire suppression plan.   

The board voted to dispense with requiring a high-intensity soil survey and formal hydrological study, given the project’s location and generous lot sizes.  They did, however, urge Kibbin and his surveyor Stuart Davis to revisit before the next meeting their stormwater runoff plans, the wetlands delineation relative to a proposed road, MDOT’s guidance on access from Route 100, and the rerouting of an existing snowmobile trail.

Medical marijuana grow facility on Tobey Road.  The board scheduled a site walk for April 13 at 5:30 pm at 440 Tobey Road, where John Lamparelli proposes a medical marijuana grow facility.  They also agreed to hold a public hearing on the project for April 20.

Planner Scott Hastings noted that the grow facility reflects a change of use.  The original permit was for a residence and detached garage; now the garage is proposed to house a commercial grow facility.  A memo from the town’s code enforcement officer, newly-on-board Kate Matthews, concludes that the use would be considered a “commercial greenhouse” permitted in the Farm and Forest District, Hastings said. 

Work on the 12.3 acre site has already begun in the form of a rough berm intended to shield the 7200 s.f. metal building from abutters’ view, Lamparelli and his consultant Jim Seymour said.  It will be neatened up, they said.  Along with buffering and the berm, Hastings raised questions about parking—7.5 parking spaces would be needed for the garage building—traffic, lighting, odor control, and other operational details.

Mindful of their review of Scott Liberty’s application for a medical marijuana grow facility on Penney Road, board members thought odor control and buffering/screening were likely to be key concerns of abutters.  Abutters will get to share their thoughts directly, at the April 20 hearing.

Gloucester Hill Road swimming pool.  With an expedited review, the board swiftly approved an application from Neil and Susan Wallace for an in-ground pool behind their home at 224 Gloucester Hill Road in the Rural Residential and Historic Overlay District.  The application sailed through without objections or concerns.  As it was approved, Susan Wallace thanked the board, declaring, “Pool party at Wallaces!”

New lot on Targett Road.  An application from Dan Clavet for a new lot at 87 Targett Road in the Rural Residential zone was also quickly approved.  The new lot will be created by splitting an existing lot within the Witham Heights subdivision area.  As abutters had not raised concerns and the board had previously conducted an uneventful site visit, they voted to dispense with a public hearing and proceeded to approve the request.

Thanks for planner Scott Hastings. The meeting concluded with appreciation and farewells for Scott Hastings, whose last day as town planner will be April 15.  Members commented on how easy it has been to work with Hastings and in particular how clear and effective his memos and analysis have been.  Everyone thanked him and wished him well. 

With Hastings’ departure and transition time between planners ahead, chair Don Libby remarked lightly that board members will enjoy an opportunity to become even more familiar with the town’s zoning ordinances, doing direct hands-on analysis themselves.     

Links to the applications, maps, memos, and more discussed at the April 6 meeting can be found here.  Video of the meeting will be posted here once it’s available.