Revised plan to subdivide Tuller School site still controversial
Updated 11:21 am, Thursday, March 14, 2013
A developer's revised plan to build seven houses on Tuller Road is getting mixed reviews from neighborhood residents.
Clare Liberis, who has lived on Tuller Road for 32 years, said Wednesday that she does not have a problem with the revised plan, which calls for seven houses to be built on about five acres next to her property and for a cul-de-sac to be created off Tuller Road to provide access to the seven homes.
The earlier plan, which was rejected by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission in February 2012, called for eight houses to be built and for a road to be built off Little Brook Road to provide access to the homes.
Liberis said the seven houses would be on nearly half-acre lots that conform to town zoning regulations and would prevent a denser development from being built instead. "Seven homes is a lot better than 25 condominiums or 25 other housing units. It's in accordance with the zone -- half-acre lots," she said. "I'm happy to see something like this going in."
"I think this is the best possible solution for that property," Liberis added. "The neighborhood could use something positive. We've been waiting a long time for something to happen."
Arlene Black, also of Tuller Road, said, "It's fine with us. It's only going to raise our real estate [value] because these houses are going to be big and beautiful."
Liberis said she thinks the revised plan is better, even though the access road would be off Tuller Road instead of Little Brook Road. "I don't know why they didn't do that in the first place," she said.
But Sue Olsen of Little Brook Road said she and her neighbors are concerned about the potential for more stormwater runoff onto their properties once the five acres of water-absorbing ground is replaced by houses, driveways and the cul-de-sac. She said the stormwater management system planned with the development "doesn't leave a good margin of error" and that seven houses is not much of a density reduction from the earlier plan.
"People are still concerned about drainage, with clearing all that space. We have historically had issues with water drainage," Olsen said of homeowners on Little Brook Road, which is on the other side of the property from Tuller Road.
Susan Civitano, who's lived on Little Brook Road about nine years, said seven homes would be an "over-development" of the property due, in part, to her neighborhood's drainage problems and the wetlands on the property. She said her property is probably the only one on her block that doesn't routinely experience flooding during storms and she is concerned that construction of seven homes would change that. "Now, with the lifting up of the land, turning it, moving it and creating homes, it will disturb it and cause flooding issues for us," she said. "We're still very concerned about the water. It's a major concern."
Civitano, who lives next to the site of the proposed development, said she and neighbors also are concerned about traffic. She said nearby Fairfield Woods Road can be "hellish" to enter in the morning as well as about 5 p.m., and that she often turns right onto Fairfield Woods Road, even though she wants to turn left, just so she can get onto the road and then later turns around and goes in the opposite direction. "I can't imagine seven more homes making it better," she said.
Olsen and Civitano said they're also concerned with how construction of the homes will affect their neighborhood.
Olsen said a clear majority of homeowners on Little Brook Road and Marian Road have concerns with the revised plan, and Civitano said opponents of the earlier plan haven't changed their minds. "We're still against the overdevelopment of the property," she said. "We have not given up. We'll definitely be fighting it."
Civitano said her family moved from New York to escape congestion and overcrowding and to live in an area with trees and some open space. "Slowly but surely, it's all being taken away," she said.
Liberis said it isn't realistic to expect the owners of the property to do nothing with it, but Civitano said two or three homes would be much better. "When you're putting seven houses on it and trying to create a road as well, it's really not a lot of land," she said.
Civitano disputed that the proposed homes would raise area property values, saying if flooding problems become worse in her neighborhood, no one will want to buy a home there.
The revised plan also calls for the former Tuller School to be torn down because the cul-de-sac would be built off Tuller Road instead of Little Brook Road. Liberis and Olsen don't have a problem with demolition of the mid-18th century school, which resembles a house. Liberis said it's "horrible" and "looks like a haunted house."
The proposed cul-de-sac would be called "Tuller School Road," according to the zoning application.
Applicants for the proposed development are Christopher Cocco and Malgorzata Piekarski, who bought the 144 Tuller Road property that includes the former school for $990,000 in October 2009, and Jack R. and Mary Lou Kasper, who own property at 120 Tuller Road.
On Tuesday night, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission decided to hold a public hearing on the proposed development, but a date for the hearing hadn't been set as of Wednesday afternoon.
The town's Inland Wetlands Commission has already approved the proposed development.