EAST MARLBOROUGH—A longtime East Marlborough developer was unpleasantly surprised when the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors made him wait at least a month for approval of a new development.
Doug White was before the board at their Monday night monthly meeting hoping to get final approval for Northridge, a 54-unit twin home development on a 22.6-acre tract on Gale Lane, east of North Walnut Road.
Almost as soon as discussion of the proposed development began, Supervisor Robert McKinstry announced that he was not in favor of granting final approval because it did not have a formally agreed-upon landscaping plan.
Discussions on the details of the buffering were still going on between Glackin Thomas Panzak, the township’s landscape planning consultant, and their counterparts on the developer’s side.
White and his attorney Michael Gavin were surprised by this. It is very common for developments to get approval at various stages, including final approval, contingent on relatively minor details being worked out between the municipality and the developer.
McKinstry argued that the township required the landscaping plan to be in place, and he felt as a township official he was responsible for upholding the requirement.
For his part, Gavin argued that holding up the approval until the final details of the landscaping had been worked out could be seen as a new and arbitrary round of approval very late in the process.
Both Gavin and White said there was no basic disagreement about the landscaping, and they were willing to do whatever the township recommended. The buffer of landscaping around the development was mostly set at 40 feet, with 20-foot widths in some places, they said. The main remaining questions were on the type and amount of plantings the ordinance required for their project, they said.
Gavin said this was not a serious problem, and could easily be resolved by discussions between the landscape planners on both sides. “The two of those professionals will work it out,” he said.
White and Gavin said they had to have an approval to begin work on financing if they hoped to get the project started soon. “It’s whether we get in the ground now, or next year,” Gavin said. “That’s why this is critical.”
White pointed out that they had originally been approved for a conditional-use plan that involved clearing a large portion of the wooded areas on the parcel. They had revised it and come back months later with a plan that preserved a large part of those woods, he said.
The developers should be recognized for having preserved those woods, rather than being held up over landscaping, White argued. “I have a record here in the township of doing the right thing,” he said.
“This is a proper time to exercise discretion,” Gavin said, “and give credit where credit is due.”
But the other supervisors backed up McKinstry, and told White and Gavin that other details still to be resolved meant it was no special burden for them to get the landscaping plan set and come back in a month for final approval. White thanked the supervisors for their time and left without a formal vote on his request being taken.
In other business, the supervisors approved an expansion plan for the Longwood Funeral Home. Owner Matthew Genereux said he wanted to create a foyer where funeral attendees could gather before entering the main room of the facility. The supervisors granted him an approval to add 1,300 square feet to the existing building. Ken Hoffman, an architect with Gilmore Associates, said the addition would not exceed the township limit for impervious coverage.