Knob Hill inches closer to town acceptanceBy Jay Turner
After waiting 16 years for their streets to be brought up to town standards, the residents within the Knob Hill subdivision off Walpole Street finally received a bit of good news late last month when the Planning Board voted 3-0 to cease negotiations with the developer and have the town take control of the necessary repairs.
The decision was made at the conclusion of a contentious hearing on Wednesday, June 20, during which the three members in attendance debated what to do with the approximately $111,000 that had been set aside in surety for subdivision improvements, the bulk of which must be completed before the streets in question — Knob Hill Circle, Fern Brook Circle, Warner Way and Skyline Circle — can be accepted as public roadways.
The developer, Al Endriunas, had offered to make a number of the improvements himself in exchange for the full amount of the surety; however, a dispute arose over the value of Endriunas’ proposal and whether or not it was sufficient to bring the roads into compliance.
Specifically, Planning Board consultant Tom Houston said there were several “mandatory items” identified by the town’s engineering and sewer departments that were not included in Endriunas’ offer, including replacement of sewer castings, additional sidewalk improvements to ensure ADA compliance, and the installation of a fence on top of retaining walls within the subdivision.
Houston also estimated the cost of Endriunas’ proposal to be approximately $78,000 — a figure that Endriunas claimed was at least $10,000 too low. Either way, board members felt that the offer as it stood was unconvincing.
“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to the list,” remarked Gary Vinciguerra. “I was hoping to see a list [of proposed repairs] that quite frankly was closer to [$111,000].
Endriunas countered that the town had not clearly articulated its priorities. He also placed some of the blame on the Planning Board, claiming that he appeared before the board “16 years ago trying to do this very same thing and [they] hit a wall.”
Ultimately, the board chose to move forward without the developer, prompting a visibly angered Endriunas to abruptly walk out of the meeting after delivering a final parting shot.
“That’s a brilliant idea,” he said to the board members, “because you’re the smartest guys on earth … Now you can explain to these people why you’re going to do half the work when you put it out to bid for prevailing wages.”
The majority of the neighbors, however, supported the Planning Board’s decision to take over the repairs — even as they expressed their dissatisfaction with the process thus far.
One neighbor who spoke at the hearing publicly challenged the board to “put together a definitive list that will approve the streets, with a timeframe to complete it, sans budget.”
“I think we’re entitled to that,” the neighbor said. “We’ve been waiting and waiting — whatever has to be done, that list should be compiled and we should be told when.”
Chairman Chris Connolly, in response, assured the neighbors that “eyes are all on the prize” and that the board would do everything in its power to get the work completed in time for the next town meeting. Board members also agreed to report back to the neighbors with a final punch list and a timeline at their next meeting on Wednesday, July 18.
In other Planning Board news:
* The board unanimously agreed to comply with a scenic way bylaw request, sent via town engineer Jim Donovan, to allow the removal of trees on Pleasant Street in the vicinity of the Reservoir Pond Dam. The current owner of the pond, the Napleton Company, has agreed to make extensive repairs to the dam and then donate the water rights to the town. However, as part of the repair process, the state Office of Dam Safety has ordered the removal of nearby trees (on the westerly side of the street, opposite the pond) to ensure the structural integrity of the dam.
The Planning Board, as the overseer of Canton’s 12 scenic ways, reluctantly approved the request 3-0. They did ask, however, that the tree removal be limited to only those required by the state order. Board member Jeremy Comeau also requested that selectmen continue the “standard practice” of planting new trees in the general vicinity at some point in the future, assuming that the funding is available for such a purpose.
* The Planning Board reorganized at its previous meeting on May 16, and all three offices were contested by a 3-2 vote — a rare occurrence on any town board and one that resulted in a few tense moments between the two camps.
Connolly, Vinciguerra, and outgoing Chairman Kristen Mirliani all voted in the affirmative after nominating one another for the three available posts — Connolly for chairman, Vinciguerra for vice chairman, and Mirliani for clerk. George Jenkins and Comeau, whom Jenkins had unsuccessfully nominated for chair, opposed all three nominations.
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