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|A spot with a view|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 28 August 2013 09:00|
The Planning Board voted to continue discussion on a proposed parking lot at 23 Howland’s Landing, formerly the Blairhaven Retreat, on Sept. 23 in order to further develop the plans.
The Board heard a presentation from Pat Brennan, principal at Amory Engineers, P.C., who walked the members through the most current iteration of a plan for a parking lot overlooking the water at the property.
The proposed plan consists of two phases. The first phase will include cutting down three trees measuring between eight and 20 inches, grading and paving an area wide enough for 14 spaces. The proposed area currently has an existing gate and curb cut for a driveway, which will be utilized for the parking area. The gate will be locked at night and the proposed hours for the parking area will be dawn to dusk.
“The area has been deemed a scenic parking lot,” Brennan said. “It’s for people to drive in, enjoy a coffee and the view. Boat trailers will not be allowed to park in that area.”
Brennan worked with Joe Grady, conservation administrator, and the 15-member Blairhaven Committee on several iterations of the plan. One of the main concerns from planning board members was the location of the parking area on the lot. Due to the fact that there are trees and brush growing along the roadside, Brennan said the proposed lot was put farther into the park in order for the parking spaces to have the best view. Also factoring into the equation was the slope of the entire lot, which is fairly steep. After grading, the parking area will still have a six percent grade.
Another concern for planning board vice chair Brian Glennon was the lack of a designated handicap parking space on the current plan. The law requires one handicap space for every 15 parking spaces. Phase one of the plan has 14 spaces.
“If the view is what is important, you’d think that, unless you are handicapped, you could get out of the car, walk over to where the view is and enjoy it in its natural state,” Glennon said. “I’m a little concerned we are having a parking lot out into almost the middle of the space for the purpose of having a view, but those who would have the most need for the lot being so far out don’t have a designated spot.”
Brennan said he could expand the parking area to fit the width requirement for a van accessible handicap space in order to allow for better viewing. One issue Brennan cited was the grading of the parking lot once it has been paved. The cross slope will be steeper than the requirements by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Without really excavating on this hill and digging in and removing more trees, we can’t change the grade all that much,” Brennan said. “The maximum cross slope for handicap accessibility is two percent. With existing conditions, its about a 15 percent slope at the site.”
George Wadsworth, planning board chairman, said he would like to see a revised plan that includes the proposed guardrails along the lot, the handicap accessible parking spot, where the surrounding trees and vegetation exist and what signage will be posted at the lot.
“The committee was adamant about not adding convenience for the voters,” said Joe Jannety, Blairhaven committee member. “The landing was the landing and the conservation land was separate. Parking was for people who would utilize parking, not the boats. But how can you regulate it?”
Jannety said some Blairhaven committee members wanted the parking area closer to Howland’s Landing, but the main point of the parking area was the view. He compared the area to Shipyard Lane and Snug Harbor, where people pull in to sit and have a cup of coffee and look out over the bay. Concerns were also raised over non-residents using the parking area in order to more easily access their dinghies when their boats are moored off the landing.
“It’s a sticky wicket on who is utilizing this,” he said. “We talked about having permit stickers, but we couldn’t figure it out.”
Wadsworth said he could tell the Blairhaven Committee worked through many iterations of the plan and came up with the best possible issue. His view, he said, was from a planning perspective where they were mostly working around the edges, ensuring guard rails were put in and the swail was successful. It was not their intention to rework the designs.
The proposed parking lot will have to go before town meeting in order to appropriate the funds from the town, so work will not begin at the site until at least 2014.