A proposal to create a subdivision with 26 new home lots on Perry Hill Road, near Walnut Avenue, is expected to come before the zoning board after getting approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC).

The IWC unanimously backed the Perry Hill Estates plan. Three main wetland areas totaling about 1.5 acres, including a watercourse, are located on the project’s 13.5 acres.

The land now is zoned for one-acre houses and the address is 88 Perry Hill Road. The developer, Ben Perry of Long Hill Avenue, wants to create a Planned Development District (PDD) to allow for more intense use on the land.

The project involves creating two detention ponds to store water after major storms. Wetland crossings would be needed for a road and sanitary sewer line extension.

The IWC approval is based on the developer satisfying concerns expressed by the city engineer and providing detailed information on a tree-planting plan.

City engineer raises concerns

City Engineer Robert Kulacz did not support the project due to “deficiencies and concerns,” raising six specific issues in a letter, a few of them more technical in nature.

Kulacz noted a brook downstream has “restricted capacity,” so adequate stormwater detention on the site is imperative.

“The density of this development is greater than currently permitted by the zoning regulations and will create more runoff than usual,” Kulacz wrote.

He said a rip-rap (broken stones) overflow channel from one detention pond needs to be extended so water will flow into the main watercourse rather than onto an abutting property.

James Swift, the project’s engineer and landscape architect, thinks the city engineer’s concerns can be satisfied. “I don’t see anything in [Kulacz’s] letter that substantially changes or impacts the design,” said Swift, according to the IWC minutes.

Small homes, and small lots

Swift said the 26 houses would be “empty-nester type units” with two bedrooms on small lots. Most lots would be less than one-sixth of an acre, and some houses would be as close as 15 feet from each other.

An association (common interest community} would be formed to create rules and oversee common areas, including the roads and detention ponds.

The roads would be privately built and maintained. The developer plans to include restrictions to prohibit playground equipment and pools on the individual lots. “It’s all private roads — there’s no burden on the city for this,” Swift told the IWC. “We won’t impact the school system.”

One or two access roads?

The initial plans show roads entering the development from Perry Hill Road and Walnut Avenue, but Swift said the Walnut Avenue connection may end up being for emergency-access only due to concerns by neighbors and other reasons.

Perry, the developer, has been talking to abutting Walnut Avenue neighbors to allay concerns, according to Swift. “Ben’s been working real hard with the neighbors,” Swift said.

A 20-foot strip of land may be deeded to these existing homeowners to create a buffer, and trees added near the property line.

Based on IWC staff comments, fencing such as split rail would be installed to delineate wetland areas that cannot be disturbed.

An application to create a PDD for Perry Hill Estates would go to the Planning and Zoning Commission.