Ashford Hill developers aim to move ahead on building.Byline: Ellie Oleson
OXFORD - Despite the downturn in the economy since Old Oxford Realty Partners first submitted preliminary subdivision plans in 2003, the developer is moving forward with plans to develop 320 town houses
in Oxford and 30 single-family homes in Auburn.
"It's been a long process," said Jennie L. Caissie, board chairwoman, at the selectmen's meeting last night, when a hearing on an earth removal permit was continued again, this time to Dec. 16.
In April, Edward L. Pesce, a principal in Old Oxford Realty Partners of Oxford, proposed a two-year plan that included "flattening the hill," by removing 1.1 million yards of fill from a 26-acre site adjacent to a proposed 157-acre condominium site, and then building an access road directly onto Route 20 to gain access to both properties. A retail plaza would be developed on the 26-acre site.
On Aug. 12, selectmen received a request for an earth removal permit. A hearing was set for Oct. 7, but at that hearing, Framingham real estate lawyer Stephen E. Meltzer, representing Old Oxford Realty Partners, requested a postponement until Oct. 28. Selectmen voted to continue the hearing to Nov. 18.
At last night's hearing, selectmen discussed concerns about the impact of truck traffic, blasting, dust and site drainage on nearby property and wetlands.
Franklin builder Robert McKie, a principal in the development, and Mark A. Kitner, owner of C&M Construction Co. of Salem, N.H., represented Old Oxford Realty Partners at the hearing.
Mr. Kitner said he was a "third-generation road builder" and that times have changed in recent years. "The best land is gone. Building the road is the easy part; earth removal is the hard part."
Mr. McKie said they were no longer asking for a permit to remove 1.1 million yards of fill for the roadway and "retail pad," but just for a permit to remove 250,000 yards of material for the roadway, explaining that permits will be sought in phases.
Mr. Kitner said material from the site would be sold to "a national developer" and would be "safely loaded onto trucks."
Dennis E. Lamarche of 74 Old Webster Road said he would be opposed to trucks driving on Route 56.
Selectman Henry J. LaMountain said he would not vote for a plan that called for loaded trucks from the site to travel south on Route 56.
David M. Manugian, town planner and engineer, said one plan would send trucks west on Route 20, then north on Route 56 to a jug-handle turnaround to be built on the developer's property. Trucks could then go back south on Route 56 and take a left at the Route 20 light, then travel east on Route 20.
Mr. Manugian said the proposed drainage from the site would be 80 percent to 90 percent what now leaves the site, due to a series of detention ponds.
He said dust from the site would be eased with the application of water or calcium chloride.
Mr. Kitner said, "We do not use perchlorate" in blasting, after Selectman Daniel P. Coonan said he was concerned about well contamination.
According to records in the Oxford Planning Office, Old Oxford Realty Partners first submitted preliminary subdivision plans in May 2003 for 320 two-bedroom town houses to be built at The Reserve at Ashworth Hill in Oxford. This preliminary plan was approved by the Planning Board on Sept. 22 of that year.
In January 2004, a definitive subdivision plan was submitted to the Oxford Planning Board. The plan was approved that September with conditions, including three access roads to the site: one from Ashworth Drive in Oxford, one from Blaker Street in Auburn, and one from Route 20 in Oxford.
A subdivision plan for 30 single-family homes off Ashworth Street in Auburn was submitted to the Planning Board in that town on Jan. 6, 2004. A missed deadline led to definitive approval of the plan.
The total project of about 350 homes would be built on 157 acres in North Oxford and West Auburn.
A modification to the plan submitted to the Oxford Planning Board in August 2007 has yet to be approved.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff
CUTLINE: Oxford - Town houses on 157 acres; Auburn - Single-family homes on 72 acres