14-lot cluster development planned off Jeanne Drive in Athol

  • The map of the proposed Benwoods development off Jeanne Drive and Petersham Road was presented to the Board of Planning and Community Development and the plan's abutters last night by land surveyor Edward Berry and property owner Peter K. Lyman.

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2019 9:55:26 PM
Modified: 5/3/2019 10:21:10 AM

ATHOL – In a public hearing with the Board of Planning and Community Development Wednesday, abutters to the proposed creation of 14 residential building lots off Jeanne Drive and Petersham Road were provided information about the plan, which sets on approximately 10 of 70 acres of property owned by Peter K. Lyman.

Land surveyor Edward Berry said that 35.6 acres of the property, called Benwoods, would remain as permanent open space and that the mostly half-acre lots will have about 100 feet in frontage. Berry said they are proposing under the flag lot zoning bylaw a 20-acre flag lot on the northerly part with reduced frontage. The 35.6 acres fall under the Open Space Residential Design (OSRD) zoning bylaw provisions which requires permits. Berry said the reason for the flag lot is because they thought it was best for that particular parcel.

The proposed property was previously mined as a gravel pit which Berry said has been removed, with loam and seed to be put in place next.

Berry told the abutters that there won’t be any roads going through that would affect their property and that it will not abut any of the existing properties. The nearest distance to a lot line is 250 feet and the nearest distance to a Petersham Road house is close to 500 feet.

He said the lots are “nice-sized” and are placed “in the spirit of the open space bylaw.” Berry and Lyman had also requested from the planning board relief from the subdivision regulation to allow a 900-foot cul-de-sac instead of the 500 feet stated in the bylaw.

The project is considered a cluster development which consists of smaller lots and less infrastructure for the town to maintain, according to Berry. He said Benwoods is the first of this kind to be developed under the town’s bylaw.

Berry has received positive feedback from the town and said the open space won’t be developed, and it will be privately owned by the lot owners who would be responsible for its stewardship.

The plans have been shared with the Conservation Commission which did a site visit and a full delineation of the wetlands, which was approved. Berry is still working with the commission and the Board of Health, which approved the septic systems. Most of the homes are going to be ranch style with two to three bedrooms for “mostly empty-nesters,” and will use town water.

Berry said they would like to see the road be accepted by the town as a public way and will be working with the Department of Public Works, Conservation Commission and Department of Environmental Protection on a drainage system that would be easily maintained by the town without straining the town budget.

Board chair David Small said there are three fire hydrants planned for the cul-de-sac area, to the satisfaction of the Athol Fire Department. He said the next hearing will be more definitive, with more ideas to solidify and more conversations to be had for the open space acreage.

The hearing was continued until June 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Liberty Hall at Town Hall.

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