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Discussion of development of Baldwin Street property continues

Date: 11/24/2008

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW The residents abutting the property at the end of Baldwin Street owned by Don LoMascolo, who runs D&C Properties, will not allow the proposed Prospect Park business facility to be built without a fight.

LoMascolo originally submitted plans for development for the industrial zoned property to the Planning Board in January 2005 and resubmitted plans this summer. The current plans include four buildings and an area to store the trailers he uses as a part of his business.

The Planning Board and LoMascolo and his team have been tweaking the plans since August in an attempt to appease the demands of abutters.

Debra Gray of Edmund Street has been focusing her attention on the regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The town's Conservation Commission walked the site on Aug. 12 and approved of the project with conditions at their Aug. 27 meeting.

Gray was not pleased with their decision to approve the project, so she filed an appeal with the DEP. Another site walk through was conducted on Oct. 3 and superseding orders were delivered to LoMascolo on Nov. 14.

"We didn't feel they [the Conservation Commission] really reviewed the plan," Gray told Reminder Publications. "There were two big rules they breached. They had to move a building out of a [wetland] buffer zone and deal with stormwater and drainage issues."

"It's not about stopping him [LoMascolo]," Amy Hebert of Glendale Road stated. "It's about being realistic."

Gray agreed, adding, "He is the owner of the land. He should be able to build on it but he should not be exempt from the rules."

George Kingston, chair of the Conservation Commission and clerk of the Planning Board, said anyone has the right to appeal a decision and that the appeal on LoMascolo's property is the first the commission has seen in 15 years.

"The superseding orders mean the Conservation Commission has nothing more to do with the project," Kingston explained. "The orders we issued were 'OK' orders. The DEP took a stricter approach."

He added that he wishes the commission and the abutters had been able to work out their differences locally, but said there are "no hard feelings" on anybody's part concerning the appeal.

"The superseding orders are suggestions from the DEP, but nothing is mandatory," Robyn MacDonald, director of Planning, Zoning and Conservation, said, "and the applicant has made the changes."

The abutters brought up zoning concerns at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Planning Board, including the minimum side yard requirement of 50 feet. Both MacDonald and a representative from Ecotec Environmental Associates measured a side yard in question and found it to be 52 feet from the property line. This was followed by a discussion of where yards should be measured from, property lines or zoning lines.

Planning Board member Don Anderson explained that the definition of a side yard is based on property or street line, not the zone line.

Gray brought up zoning bylaw 3.096, which states, "Not more than one (1) house trailer may be located on a lot. Cannot be used as a dwelling unit on the lot. Must conform to accessory building setback, side yard and rear yard requirement of the zone in which it is located."

LoMascolo is looking to store between 20 and 40 trailers on the property.

Kingston said storage of such things is appropriate on the property, and cited the business that offers house trailer rentals on Maple Street and Coyote's Den Self Storage as examples.

Kevin Kervick of Edmund Street asked the Planning Board why the residents were "doing [their] homework."

"Every time there's an issue, you coach them [the applicant] through it," he said. "It's not fair and balanced."

Anderson assured the abutters present at the meeting that they would go over the points they raised with the Town Counsel, Attorney Jim Donahue.

The public hearing on Prospect Park was continued until the Planning Board meeting on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.