Waivers Should Not Be Granted

The proposed Rice Pond Village project is not in the “public interest” and therefore none of the requested waivers should be granted by the Millbury Planning Board. If you read through some (not all) of the applicable regulations (below), it should be easy to determine there is no “public interest” gained from this proposed project that would necessitate the granting of any of the requested waivers. The only individuals who will benefit from the proposed Rice Pond Village project are the land owners, the McLaughlin Family Living Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian; and the developer, Steven F. Venincasa, doing business as Whitney Street Home Builders, LLC.

The applicant has requested numerous waivers, dated September 7, 2021, as outlined below, for the proposed Rice Pond Village project, located at 17 Rice Road in Millbury, Massachusetts:

  1. Article 1, Section 12.44(a) of the Zoning Bylaw, that site plans be drawn at a scale of 1-inch equals 20 feet;
  2. Article 1, Section 12.44(c) of the Zoning Bylaw for an isometric line drawing showing the entire project;
  3. Article 1, Section 12.44(d) of the Zoning Bylaw, that a locus plan at a scale of 1-inch equals 100 be included in the Site Plans;
  4. Section 5.3 of the Subdivision Regulations that proposed contours at a 1-foot interval be shown on plans;
  5. Section 6.7.4.i of Subdivision Regulations that developments with 20 or more dwelling units have 2 or more points of access;
  6. Section 6.7(6) of Subdivision Regulations that roads serving 21 to 149 dwelling units have a 26-foot-wide traveled way;
  7. Section 6.10 of Subdivision Regulations that curbing shall be vertical granite curbing; and
  8. Section 7.5 of the Subdivision Regulations for a grass strip between the curb and the proposed sidewalk.

According to the Town of Millbury’s regulations, the Millbury Planning Board does have the right to waive requirements only if it is in the “public interest” to do so. None of the waivers requested are in the “public interest”, however, the applicant and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, Steven F. Venincasa, and Whitney Street Home Builders, LLC would derive financial benefits from the granting of these requested waivers for this proposed project in the way of cost-saving and significant net profits.

Millbury Zoning Bylaws

12.44 Contents and Scope of Application. An application for site plan review and approval under this section must be prepared by qualified professionals, including a registered professional engineer and, where required by state law, a registered architect, and/or registered landscape architect, and shall include the following items and information:
(a) A site plan review at a scale of one-inch equals twenty feet (1” = 20’), or such other scales as may be approved by the Planning Board.
(c) An isometric line drawing (projection) at the same scale as the site plan, showing the entire project and its relation to existing areas, building and roads for a distance of one hundred feet from the project boundaries.
(d) A locus plan at a scale of one-inch equals 100 feet (l” = 100′) showing the entire project and its relation to existing areas, buildings and roads for a distance of one hundred (100) feet from the project boundary, or such other distances as may be approved or required by the Planning Board.

12.45 Design Standards. All site plan review applicants shall adhere to the following general principles when designing a site plan for land within the Town of Millbury.
(b) Relation of Building to Environment: Proposed development shall be related harmoniously to the terrain and to use, scale and siting of existing buildings in the vicinity that have functional or visual relationship to the proposed buildings. All building and other structures shall be sited to minimize disruption of the topography. Strict attention shall be given to proper functional, visual and spatial relationship of all structures, landscaped elements and paved areas.
(l) Circulation: With respect to vehicular and pedestrian circulation, including entrances, ramps, walkways, drives and parking, special attention shall be given to location and number of access points to the public streets (especially in relation to existing traffic controls), width of interior drives, and access points, general interior circulation, separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, access to community facilities and arrangement of parking areas that are safe and convenient and, insofar as practicable, do not detract from the use and enjoyment of proposed buildings and structures and the neighboring properties. Insofar as practicable, parking should be located on the side or the rear of buildings.

12.47 Conditions, Limitations and Safeguards: In granting approval of an application, the Planning Board may impose conditions, limitations and safeguards which shall be in writing and shall be a part of such approval. Such conditions may include among other matters and subjects:
(c) Requirements for off-site improvements to improve the capacity and safety or roads, intersections, pedestrian ways, water, sewer, drainage and other public facilities which are likely to be affected by the proposed development.
(e) Requirements for securing the performance of all proposed work, including proposed of-site improvements by either or both of the following methods:
(1) A performance bond, a deposit of money, negotiable securities, or bank passbook in an amount determined by the Planning Board to be sufficient to cover the cost of all or any part of the improvements required as conditions of approval;
(2) A covenant running with the land, executed and duly recorded by the owner of record, whereby the required improvements shall be completed before the property may be conveyed by other than a mortgage deed.

16.1 Other Laws. Where the application of this by-law imposes greater restrictions than those imposed by any other regulations, permits, easements, covenants or agreements, the provisions of this by-law shall control.

Millbury Subdivision Control Law

§2 Access Street: sometimes called a place, lane, drive, court or cul-de-sac, the access street is designed to conduct traffic between dwelling units and higher order streets. As the lowest order street in the hierarchy, the access street usually carries no through traffic.

§2 Sub-Collector: providing passage to access streets that conveys traffic to collectors, the sub-collector provides frontage and access to residential lots but also carries some through traffic to lower-order (access) streets. The sub-collector is a relatively low-volume street.

§3.5 Severability. If any part or portions of these Rules and Regulations be adjudicated as invalid, the adjudication shall apply only to the material so adjudged, and the remaining Rules and Regulations shall be deemed valid and of full force and effect.

§3.6 Waivers. The Board may waive strict compliance with any of these Rules and Regulations if it deems it in the public interest in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 41, S. 81R.

§5.3 Topography at one-foot contour intervals, with graphic drainage analysis; indication of annual high-water mark, location of existing structures, including fences and walls and watershed boundaries.

§6.0 General Sub-Section 2 All standards under this section shall be considered minimum standards and may be varied from or waived where the Board considers that alternative conditions will serve substantially the same objective. All waivers requested and granted by the Board shall be made in writing, with an explanation for the reasons, therefore.

§6.0 General Sub-Section 3 Design and construction shall minimize, to the extent possible, the following:

(c) Areas where existing vegetation will be disturbed, especially if such vegetation is located within two-hundred feet (200’) of a river, wetland, or water body, or in areas having a slope of more than fifteen percent (15%);

§6.13 Sidewalks and Bicycle Paths. Sidewalks shall be placed generally parallel to roadways as follows:

  1. On both sides of streets on a collector or sub-collector.
  2. On one side of the street on an access street.

Sidewalks shall be installed in accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (521 CMR) in effect at the time of application.

Sidewalks shall be at least five feet (5’) wide.

§6.7 The width of street right-of-ways and traveled ways shall not be less than the following:

Right-Of-Way TypeNo. of Dwelling Units Potentially ServedRight-Of-Way WidthTraveled Way Width
Access0 to 2040 Feet22 Feet
Sub-Collector21 to 14950 Feet26 Feet
CollectorOver 15060 Feet32 Feet

Greater width shall be required by the Board when deemed necessary for present and future vehicular travel.

Reductions of width which are a part of an overall drainage plan to reduce the impervious surfaces in the subdivision and runoff from the parcel may be permitted if the Planning Board deems plans for safety, parking, pedestrian circulation, and other factors adequate to accommodate the requested reductions.

Rights-of-Way for pedestrian access adjacent to paved streets shall be obtained where sidewalks, bikeways, or other structures are necessary.

Slopes adjacent to roadways, natural or man-made, may be placed within easements on individual properties rather than acquired as rights-of-way.

§6.7.1 The Board may disapprove a plan where it determines that dangerous traffic conditions may result from inadequacy of the proposed access or of the proposed ways within the subdivision, or of any of the ways adjacent to or providing access to the subdivision.

§6.7.4i Subdivisions containing more than twenty (20) dwelling units shall require not less than two separate means of access with an existing street or streets deemed sufficient per Section 4.2 or shown on an approved subdivision plan for which a performance guarantee has been filed. The Board may require more than two means of access based on the proposed number of dwelling units, proposed commercial/industrial building square footage or anticipated development impacts.

§6.10 Curbing shall be constructed of granite, unless, in the opinion of the Board, other material will be satisfactory. In most locations, the Planning Board requires the use of Type VA4, or equivalent, vertical granite curbing as defined in Section M9.04.1 of the Massachusetts Standard Specifications for Highways and Bridges.

§6.22 Improvements Outside The Subdivision. Existing streets and sidewalks providing access to streets and sidewalks within a proposed subdivision shall be considered to provide adequate access where, prior to construction on any lots, the Applicant ensures that such access will be in compliance with the Rules and Regulations for right-of-way width, pavement width, maximum grade, and sight distance requirements applicable to ways within a subdivision. When existing streets, sidewalks and utilities to service a proposed subdivision are deemed inadequate to handle the impact of the development, the Applicant may be required to complete, at the Applicant’s expense, improvements outside the boundaries of the subdivision to ensure adequate access that is safe and convenient to travel and for securing adequate provisions for drainage and other requirements as may be necessary. Said street, sidewalk and utility improvements outside the boundaries of the subdivision shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the total cost of the street, sidewalk and utility costs within the subdivision.

§7.5 Grass Strip. Grass strips shall be provided on each side of the roadway between the roadway and the sidewalk. Where no sidewalk is to be installed, the grass strip shall extend between the roadway and the right-of-way sideline. The minimum width shall be as follows:

Collector5 feet if with sidewalk
12 feet if no sidewalk
Sub-Collector5 feet if with sidewalk
10 feet if no sidewalk
Access3 feet if with no sidewalk
8 feet if no sidewalk

Note: This memorandum contains direct excerpts from the Millbury Zoning Bylaws and the Millbury Subdivision Control Law in effect at the time of the submission of the proposed Rice Pond Village project.