Housing development plan stalled

AMHERST – Resident David Fraser’s goal of building a planned residential development in the town’s northern rural zone made little progress at Tuesday night’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting.

Fraser wants to build 42 homes on 127 acres he owns off Brook Road.

One obstacle is that Joe English Brook cuts through his property, isolating most of the land to the western side of the brook. Fraser cannot access the land without the bridge and road he wants to build.

His request to do so was recently denied by Director of Development Charlie Tiedemann, who also rejected the development plan itself due to town codes covering building on lots containing wetlands, severe soils and flood plains.

The zoning board upheld both of Tiedemann’s decisions Tuesday night.

“He made the correct decisions under the clear reading of the zoning ordinance,” said board member Rob Rowe.

Fraser then asked the board to grant variances that would allow him to build the development and the bridge.

“We turned down his request (for the development variance) mainly because he had numerous other options that could achieve the same results” without violating town codes, Rowe said.

Fraser can now revise his development plan or he can appeal the zoning board’s decision within 30 days.

Tiedemann originally rejected the bridge and road construction because the area falls within the Watershed Protection District, which controls land usage within 100 feet of the brook.

Fraser believed he only needed to adhere to the town’s wetlands ordinance, which requires a less restrictive 25-foot buffer, Tiedemann said.

“I would support him crossing the brook,” Tiedemann said. “I don’t agree with his method.”

Fraser, who owns Horizon Land Development of Milford, asked the board to grant a variance to allow fill associated with the road and bridge construction within the flood plain.

Although Fraser filed an extensive engineering study, the board had little time to review the information and tabled that discussion for its Sept. 21 meeting.

Last year, the board granted Fraser a variance that gave him the right to expand a 750-square-foot cottage located between Brook Road and Joe English Brook into a house more than three times its size.

The home also sits within the 100-foot watershed protection area.

A group of abutters took the zoning board to court over that decision, Tiedemann said, but there has been no decision yet.

Fraser’s property completely encloses about 22 acres of town-owned conservation land that can be accessed by trails built years ago, Tiedemann said.