Planning Board Supports Scenic Road Designation

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Chamberlain Street has the backing of the Planning Board in its quest to become a scenic road. The Board voted 7-1 to support the motion at their April 7 meeting when it goes to the Town Meeting floor in May. Gary Trendel spoke for the residents of Chamberlain Street at the meeting.

The petition asked for Chamberlain Street to become a scenic road from where it meets Angelo Drive to the dead end of the street. In order for a road to become a scenic road, it must meet one of three criteria: bordering trees must be of exceptional quality in terms of age, size, spread, etc., bordering trees must have aesthetic value such as fall colors or spring flowers, or the road must have stone walls bordering it. Chamberlain Street does have stone walls and large trees.

Although Chamberlain Street residents were in favor of the designation, it was noted by Doug Resnick, attorney to developer Paul Mastroianni, that there are no other dead end scenic roads in Hopkinton. Resnick also stated that he felt the designation was “a pretext to prevent Mr. Mastroianni from developing his land in the future, which he has absolutely no plans to do at the present time.”

“I urge strongly that the Board refuse to recommend the designation of the dead end as a scenic road,” said Resnick.

There is no criteria in the bylaw for scenic road designation that a road has to be a through street in order to be accepted. It was also noted that although much of the land on Chamberlain Street belongs to the residents and not to Mastroianni, having a scenic road designation would not prevent Mastroianni or any other person from developing property. Instead, a scenic road designation would mean that any plans made to develop in the scenic road area would have to go to the Planning Board for approval.

Board member Claire Wright stated that, in the past, many plans have been approved that required the removal of stone walls or large trees in scenic areas. The Board also works with property owners to try and reach a solution that preserves some of the scenic elements in the area being developed.

However, Wright also noted that “the time to protect something is ahead of time, not after things like stone walls and… large, ancient trees are gone.”

Residents also stated that although the road is a dead end, the Center Trail connects to the road and many town residents who do not live on Chamberlain Street currently use the area for recreational purposes in all seasons.

Another concern was the assessor’s map submitted with the designation application to the Board. The map did not accurately show where stone walls and trees are located in the area. However, the map submitted is consistent with other maps submitted during the application process and a surveyor’s map will be shown to the Board when a property owner submits a plan to develop in the area.

The Board voted 7-1 to support designating Chamberlain Street as a scenic road during Town Meeting on May 5. In order to pass at Town Meeting, the motion needs a ⅔ vote.