Proposed development behind Langsford Pond, known as "Annisquam Woods"

Topographic map
Aerial photograph

A development is proposed for a 30-acre area in the Annisquam woods, between Revere Street and Bennett Street, behind Langsford Pond.
The land used to belong to the Tufts family (that also gave their name to Tufts Lane, off Bennett Street). In 2002/2003 there was a proposed development, four or five big houses off Hutchins Court, that met with problems with access and other things, and was finally cancelled largely because of neighborhood opposition.
This time the plan, proposed by Mike Carrigan of Carrigan Enterprises, is much more ambitious. He proposed thirty houses in three clusters between Hutchins Court and Tufts Lane, with a connecting road which would cut off Langsford Pond from other conservation property: Norton Memorial Forest and beyond that the woodlands of Dogtown.
The ownership has been consolidated as Summerhouse Associates, LLC, and the sole owner is now David Tufts, who lives in Atlanta.

Status (April 17, 2007.)

On April 13, 2007, an
appeal against the Planning Board's decision was filed in Superior Court.

AB Woodlands is not named in this appeal, as it has no standing in the courts ; but we found several Hutchins Court residents ready and willing to sue.


In November 2004 the developer filed for approval of an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation from the City Conservation Commission, and after a lot of negotiations he got his approval in April 2005.

On September 14, 2005, the AB Woodlands Association held a meeting where Carrigan explained his proposal.
On October 27 he presented a concept plan to the City. There was an ABWA meeting on December 7 to discuss it. The development was reported in the Gloucester Daily Times of December 9, by Richard Gaines, who was present at the meeting. AB Woodlands has supplied comments on this article.
In February 2006 he filed a preliminary cluster plan with the Planning Board, and the Planning Board approved it, by a 6-0 vote, on April 10, 2006. There was no public input. See the Planning Board minutes of March 27 and April 10. Also the Board of Health minutes of April 4, 2006.
Since February 2006 the
sewer situation has developed into a major political row in the city. On July 7, the developer obtained provisional permission to hook up to the shaky STEP system, arguing that as he is paying for the installation and maintenance of the sewer, he counts as one user, so he is applying for a sewer connection rather than an extension, so by law the city cannot deny him sewer access; and on condition that he provides an engineering report that the STEP system can handle another thirty homes. However, the last word has not been said on this matter.
See the discussion below about the distinction between a connection and an extension.

Definitive Cluster Plan (and other issues running concurrently.)
From July 2006 to March 2007.

On June 30, 2006, the developer filed the definitive cluster plan with the
Planning Board (after the preliminary plan had been approved by the Board on April 10.)
In the definitive plan, the developer has decreased the size of his enormous dam by requesting a variance for a greater-than-allowed slope (12%) for the entrance from Tufts Lane. He obviously saves a lot of money that way. There will also a bridge, as part of the dam, with a 20-foot span. This is intended to provide a wildlife corridor. The preliminary plan had a 2-foot culvert for this.
The access from Tufts Lane is intended for emergency uses only, so there should be no traffic on Bennett/Dennison/Holly Streets ; instead, all the traffic increase will be on Revere Street.
On July 20, Jackie Hardy, Ward 4 Councilor, organized a neighborhood meeting where Mike Carrigan could once again experience that the neighborhood is united against the project for a large number of reasons : traffic, sewer, environmental damage, and the financial burden on the city (mostly education.) In addition, citizens were upset at the way city government stimulates and facilitates projects like these without public input.
The Planning Board must issue a response to the application in 90 days. For this project, the deadline was September 29, and it has been extended to January 29 by agreement from both sides.
The first public meeting by the Board, on July 24, (see the minutes) was attended by nearly 100 citizens. The Chairman of the Planning Board assured them that their input was valuable and that (contrary to rumors) the decision had not been taken.
Jim Groves spoke for the Annisquam-BayView Woodlands Association. Twenty-four other people spoke against the proposal. Jackie Hardy, our Ward Councilor, was one of them. There were no speakers supporting the proposal.
See the article by Richard Gaines in the GDT. There was also an excellent editorial, very different from the usual pro-development viewpoint shown by GDT editorials.
As expected, the plan was continued until the next meeting, to allow the applicant to supply more information. The meeting ended at 10.45 p.m.
We wish to thank everybody who spoke or attended, and we hope that we have a similar turnout at the next meeting.
AB Woodlands called a neighborhood meeting on August 3, to inform people about of what was going on. Jackie Hardy attended and also Steve Magoon, Mayor Bell's assistant, who did not contribute much, nor was able to provide much to rest people's various concerns.
There was a long discusion about the planned Bennett Street improvements, which the City and everyone except the residents tries to separate from the development issue. The meeting closed early.
The same day, August 3, there was a Board of Health meeting, where Noel Mann spoke for AB Woodlands. The Board found that the developer had not provided enough input, and the meeting was continued until September 7.
The developer asked the Planning Board for a continuance, that is, the matter did not come before the board at the August 14 meeting, but at the August 28 meeting.
For the developer to request a continuance is a normal thing. We assume that he had so many requests for more information, both in the public hearing and in other ways, that he will not be ready by the next meeting. But the clock is ticking, and if he does not manage to satisfy the Board in time, he can either request (and receive) an extension, or the Board can reject his application. This is unlikely to happen, but both sides are aware that there is a time limit.

The August 28 Board meeting, which had a much lower attendance, was short. See the
article in the GDT.
The applicant presented some documents regarding the proposed condominium's responsibility for sewer, road maintenance, and landscaping.
The AB Woodlands Association introduced our lawyer, Diane Tillotson, and our professional engineer, Fred Geisel. This showed the developer that we are serious in our opposition. Both our lawyer and our engineer pointed out legal and engineering problems in the proposal, and promised they would come with more problems later. One outstanding issue is about the sewer
The Board has hired an independent engineering firm to conduct a peer review. This review is paid for by the applicant. This firm's report took some time. For that reason, the next hearing on this issue (skipping one meeting) was on September 25. At that meeting the applicant again managed to postpone the process by asking for a continuation on the dubious grounds that one of the Board members was absent, and this might stop her from voting on the permit. (It has since transpired that the Board member in question will be absent for a long time, so the applicant has agreed to continue without her.) Parties agreed to an extension of the September 29 deadline, to October 23.

The firm's report, dated October 10, was pretty scathing, not really condemning the plan, but identifying 94 points which needed correction or clarification. (Sorry, it is not available online, but like all documents it is available from the Planning Department at Pond Road.)

The next Board meeting, on October 23, was a routine procedure, where the attorney for the applicant held a long speech about how wonderful everything was, followed by speeches by AB Woodlands members and other neighbors with further objections. The engineering firm's report as mentioned above is not yet up for discussion, as the applicant is working on his rebuttal.
About thirty people turned up, and this was a good turn out considering the competition with the special City Council meeting on fire stations, and the fact that the venue had been changed at the last moment.

At the December 11 Board meeting the applicant presented (in concept) a major change to the plan, doing away with the second access via Tufts Lane. See the excellent report by Richard Gaines in the Gloucester Daily Times.
The Board approved the basic idea, and the applicant asked for a continuation to January 22 to be able to present this plan in detail.
The original plan, with the Tufts Lane access, caused problems on all sides: with the Board, the peer-review engineering firm, and with AB Woodlands' professional engineer for engineering problems ; with the neighborhood for traffic issues and environmental problems ; and Mass Audubon and Essex County Greenbelt, acting jointly, at the December 11 meeting protested the plan for the environmental damage.
Mass Audubon and Greenbelt have reviewed the revised plan and maintain their opposition, although it is a major improvement from their point of view.

At the January 22, 2007 Board meeting the applicant presented the fully engineered version of the revised plan, and Annisquam-BayView Woodlands (which, for once, had been given decent notice) explained our problems. Our biggest concern is safety, which can (and should be) a valid reason to reject the plan. See our letter to the Board on this issue. See also Richard Gaines's excellent report on the meeting in the Gloucester Daily Times, and the article in the Boston Globe of January 28 on Gloucester fire safety.

At the February 12, 2007 meeting, both the applicant and AB Woodlands spoke at length. The Board was close to coming to a decision, but when it was clear that the result of the vote would be negative, the applicant asked for the matter to be continued to the next meeting. There was no real reason for a delay, except the applicant hoping that Board members might be persuaded in the meantime to change their mind.

At the February 26, 2007 meeting, following a lengthy and heated discussioin, the Board approved the latest plan, by a vote of 4-0 with one abstention. See the article in the GDT by Richard Gaines.
The vote was 4 yes, 1 abstention, 2 not voting.
Paul Lundberg (chairman)
Mary Black
Marvin Kushner
Henry McCarl
Michael Rubin
Not voting because they had missed multiple meetings:
Jeneth Fahey
Shawn Henry
The Board decision is final. Contrary to otherwise held opinions, there is no appeal process except in the courts.
Links to Planning Board minutes on City website:
July 24, 2006
August 28, 2006
September 25, 2006
October 23, 2006
November 13, 2006
November 27, 2006
after which no further minutes were posted on the city website.

The Board of Health has discussed the matter in public meetings on August 3 and September 7, 2006. At both meetings AB Woodlands spoke up to voice our concerns. At the latter meeting, the Board voted to give a positive recommendation to the Planning Board, but imposed a long list of conditions, some of which were in direct response to our concerns. For instance, they insisted that the water pressure should be up to the norm (AB Woodlands contends that it isn't), and that the development should not have a negative impact on the water pressure for the neighbors.
The Board of Health's recommendations were sent to the Planning Board on September 10. They were based on the "definitive" plan of that date. Although major changes were made to the plan after that date, the Board of Health was never asked to update its opinion.

The Conservation Commission.
The Gloucester Conservation Committee has to give permission to the developer for any work that might influence wetlands. See the discussion on the
ANRAD, in 2004 and 2005, as to how the wetlands were established.
In July 2006, the applicant filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to that purpose. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was asked for comment, and they found many problems.
It took some time for the Conservation Commission to take up the matter, and they also had problems, mostly concerning stormwater runoff.
City employees from Conservation, Planning, Health, and Engineering, led by the city Conservation Agent, worked hard to come up with an alternative solution. This was using a method of stormwater management which they knew would not be acceptable to the DEP. So, the applicant submitted a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA), which asks the Commission to determine whether the project actually influences any wetlands at all, allowing the Commission to vote to allow the applicant to bypass the DEP.
This is a curious process. If the Conservation Commission does not want to get the DEP involved, all they have to do (via the RDA submission) is to determine that the DEP need not be involved.
This trick was protested by AB Woodlands' professional engineer and others, and to their credit the Commission didn't buy it. It was turned down. This caused a delay of about six weeks in the NOI process, and a certain amount of loss of face, especially for the conservation agent.
The NOI was further discussed in Conservation Commission meetings in November to January, and was finally accepted by the Commission in its meeting of January 17, 2007.

Links to Conservation Commission meetings minutes on City website:
(Minutes are draft only because the Commission is way behind getting them approved.)
October 4, 2006
October 18, 2006
November 1, 2006
November 15, 2006
January 17, 2007

The appeal to the Planning Board's decision (April 2007).

Not anyone can appeal a decision by the Planning Board in Superior Court. In order to have "standing", i.e. to be able to file, a person must be aggrieved - in the legal sense, meaning to be able to claim to suffer damage from the proposed project.
AB Woodlands does not have this standing. However, we found three Hutchins Court residents willing to claim that they were aggrieved, and the appeal was filed by AB Woodlands' lawyer in their names.
Once the Court has accepted their grievances as being valid, the plaintiffs can complain about anything else that is relevant, and this is where AB Woodlands has the chance (our only chance) to voice the many legal problems we see.
Other issues that are not legal problems - such as the damage to the neighborhood or the environment, or the financial consequences to the city - are no longer relevant.

(1)The vote issue.
According to MGL 40:9, any decision by a permit-granting board must be made by two-thirds of the members if the board has more than five members. The Gloucester Planning Board has seven members, so a decision-making majority is five votes. The fatal decision was made with four yes-votes, and the permit should accordingly have been denied.
However, the applicant's attorney has found other legal language that indicates that maybe a simple majority is enough in this case, and it is this interpretation that was used by the Planning Board chairman on the advice of the city attorney. Our attorney is fairly hopeful that we will prevail on this issue.

(2) Procedural issues.
According to Gloucester "Rules and Regulations pertaining to Subdivision of Land" 3.4, as referenced in the Zoning Ordinance, various other boards and commissions have to provide their review of the project.
The reviews by the Engineering Department (June 30, 2006) and the Board of Health (September 10, 2006) were provided before major changes were introduced to the so-called definitive plan, invalidating these reviews. No updated review was requested by the Planning Board.
The required review by DPW is absent.
AB Woodlands has pointed out these problems repeatedly, but they were ignored by the Board.
Additionally (this is not in the appeal) the applicant presented some last-minute changes orally at the last Board meeting, just before the vote, and it was these changes, which AB Woodlands had not seen and was not given an opportunity to comment upon, that influenced the Board to approve the permit.

(3) Public safety.
According to R&R 4.3.4, dead-end streets shall not exceed 600 feet in length for reasons of fire safety. For this development, the Board granted a waiver for a dead-end road of 2,600 feet. Waivers can only be granted if they are in the public interest, and this waiver clearly went against the public interest. See
AB Woodlands' position on fire safety.

The full text of the appeal is available on this site.

See also the GDT article by Richard Gaines.
AB Woodlands must protest against one quote from Carrigan in this article (we have no complaint against the article itself). Carrigan is quoted as saying that AB Woodlands "has acted in bad faith." The fact of the matter is that, on Carrigan's initiative, fruitful negotiations are proceeding between him, Noel Mann, and Essex County Greenbelt regarding the protection of the open spaces in the project. Carrigan appears to think that this means that we had resigned ourselves to accepting the project, but this assumption is based on nothing but wishful thinking. We had always intended to appeal, and have never indicated otherwise to him. The majority of the membership is not interested in the open space issue.

Updated June 7, 2007.

Some pictures.

Useful links:
Gloucester Conservation Commission
Essex County Greenbelt Association

Approval of Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) for the Langsford Pond development project

Much of this site is designated wetland (there is a surprising amount of wetland in the woods of Cape Ann) protected by state law or local by-law.
In November 2004 the developer initiated the process by filing for approval of an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation with the City Conservation Commission. The commission several times suggested changes, or requested other information, and after three public hearings they ran out of time - by law, the commission has to reply within 60 days, and the developer did not agree to an extension, so the commission denied the request. The parties were not too far apart, and given more time would have come to an agreement.
The developer filed an appeal with the state Department of Environmental Protection, and someone came over to adjudicate. He proposed a compromise, while pointing out that he had the authority to impose one, and the parties agreed.
As part of the agreement the developer agreed, voluntarily, to stay out of the 100-ft buffer zone around the wetlands. The Conservation Commission has control over the delineated wetlands, but the buffer zone of 100 ft (50 ft for some wetlands) is a matter of negotiation, and experience has shown that it is very difficult, legally, to stop a developer. Given the fragmentation of the wetlands, an extra protection of 100 feet means a great deal. If he sticks to his promise.
Maps of the final wetland mapping can be viewed at the Conservation Department offices in the City Hall annex off Pond Road.

Links to Conservation Commission meetings minutes on City website:
December 1, 2004
December 15, 2004
January 5, 2005
The January 19 meeting was cancelled because of a snowstorm.
February 2, 2005 This was the meeting denying the application.
The remaining meetings were for fixing the legal ramifications of the denial.
February 16, 2005
February 18, 2005

Meeting, Annisquam Village Church, 14 September 2005
about the development proposed between Revere Street and Bennett Street.

The meeting was well attended by about fifty people. About ninety invitations had been sent out which will have reached around 150 people. A number of people attended who had missed the invitation, but heard about the meeting.

Mike Carrigan presented his current ideas. He emphasized that this was a concept plan subject to change. He plans to file with the Planning Board by year end. The idea is to have a cluster development, according to city guidelines, of three clusters of 10 single-family homes each.
He promised 70% of the property would be in conservation (conservation restriction, or actual ownership, held by Essex County Greenbelt Association.) He also promised to stay entirely out of the 100' buffer zone around the wetlands.
He mentioned the following problems:
Access: He hopes to provide access both from Revere St (through Hutchins Court) and from Bennett St (through Tufts Lane), with a road running from one end to the other.
Water pressure: He says he measured the water pressure and it was sufficient.
Sewer: He says he is confident he can get his 30 units hooked up to the STEP system.

In the questions-and-answers he tried to defend these issues against protests from residents, and acknowledged (but did not attempt to solve) problems with traffic and with wildlife preservation. The Q&A session went on for a long time, and he did not really succeed in calming widespread doubts.

After he left there was more discussion of the same issues, and the meeting ended with the election of officers (see slate on main page.)

Comments on issues raised: (These comments are biased, but then so was his presentation.)

- 30 units is close to the maximum possible. The parcel is 30+ acres, and with a cluster development he is allowed 10% more units than the zoning would normally allow.
- About 50% of the site is protected by wetland ordinances, and by the cluster guidelines he has to set aside at least 30% of the remainder as conservation land or "open space" - meaning, not built on, but used for parks or sports fields. So an offer of 70% in conservation is inevitable rather than generous.
The remaining 10 acres would just allow the required minimum 10,000 sq ft per unit.

Access: Both accesses have difficulties. Both Hutchins Court and Tufts Lane are private roads. There is a right of way for any use, but in how far residents can stop road improvements is unclear. Hutchins Court has very narrow sections, and at some spots there is less than 20 ft width between abutting properties, and several residents have vowed to fight any encroachment on their properties (and have told the developer so.) Also, parts are within the 100' buffer zone for wetlands, which he has promised not to touch. So he will have to renege on his promise (or explain that it didn't apply to Hutchins Court), as well as obtain permission from the Conservation Commission. Specifically, there is a stretch where there is a wetland on both sides and a culvert in between, all of which requires protection.
Tufts Lane is new and wide enough. The problem here is at the end of Tufts Lane, where there is a steep dropoff with a protected wetland at the bottom. He will have to engineer the road around it, and obtain variances for exceeding slope and curvature norms.

Water pressure: Protests came from Revere St residents, who claimed that the pressure varied, and right now it is terrible.

Sewer: The sewer situation is complex and ever-changing, but at the moment there are serious capacity problems and he may or may not be able to get his sewer hookups.

Traffic: Thirty units means sixty cars, and Revere Street and especially Bennett Street (even if upgraded) and Dennison Street cannot handle this.

Meeting, Annisquam Village Church, 7 December 2005
about the development proposed between Revere Street and Bennett Street.

The meeting was well attended by about thirty people, despite the cold weather and the late notification of some people.
We were pleased to greet Jackie Hardy, the councillor-elect for Ward 4, and Richard Gaines, reporter for the Gloucester Daily Times.

Jim Groves presented an overview of the
concept plan which the developer presented to the City in late October. He also explained new problems which we have discovered with the sewer - essentially, the STEP system in North Gloucester is not only used to capacity, it also has design problems which may require expensive improvements or even replacement.
Noel Mann discussed the environmental issues. Essex County Greenbelt , which owns Langsford Pond, has provided the developer with a counterproposal that would effectively cut his project in half, do without the Tufts Lane access, and save the environmentally important southern half of the parcel. His reaction was that he saw no merit in their proposal. Greenbelt is still pursuing the matter, but the net result (from our point of view) is that the developer cannot go around saying that his plan is approved by, or even influenced by, Greenbelt.
Gregg Smith, of Saving Cape Ann, gave a brief talk about community activity.

We circulated a petition, which was signed by virtually everyone present. It will be further distributed throughout Ward 4. You can find it at a convenience store near you, or you can download it here and print it. In due course it will be presented to the City Council.

Planning Board - function and procedure.
(Gloucester Code of Ordinances, Sec 5.2; MGL 41:81)

Planning Board consists of seven members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. Its task is to issue permits to developers after checking that their plan complies with all rules and regulations.
It should be emphasized that the Planning Board does not have the option of rejecting a proposed development merely because it is is silly, or is too large for the neighborhood, or is likely to cause a loss to the developer.
Also, once the development has been approved, the City is required to supply the necessary infrastructure, whether it has the money to do so or not.
In the case of Annisquam Woods, the developer has offered to pay a large part of the cost for road improvement and sewer. How much it is going to cost the city, and how much financial benefit will ensue, is debatable, but need not have any bearing on the decision by the Planning Board.

A developer is encouraged to file a Preliminary Plan. (For Annisquam Woods, the Preliminary Plan was filed February 22, 2006, and approved by the Planning Board on April 10, 2006. There was no input from the public requested at the Board meetings where the Plan was discussed.)
After the developer then files his Definitive Plan, the Board has to give a decision within 90 days. The Board is required to hold a public hearing, which may last for several Board meetings, where anyone can speak to the issue. The Board can close the public hearing at any time at its discretion, after which its deliberations are still held in a public meeting, but the public is not allowed to speak.
If the Board rejects the developer's application, he can appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeal (Gloucester Zoning Ordinance, Sec 1.4; MGL40A). This is a body, also appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council, to handle appeals against administrative decisions (including denial of permits.) Only persons personally aggrieved, i.e. the developer, and possibly some abutters, can appeal.
Anyone else can sue in Superior Court, but only if you have a ground to do so - like, you claim that the Planning Board did not keep to the rules, or it would cause substantial hardship to citizens.

The sewer situation (May 2006.)

There is a political struggle going on with the Gloucester sewer, particularly in North Gloucester, north of Goose Cove. You may have been able to follow it through Richard Gaines' excellent reporting in the Gloucester Daily Times, February to April 2006.
There has been an unofficial moratorium on sewer extensions in North Gloucester for over a year. The problem is the capacity and the poor condition of the STEP system.
In October 2004 the mayor created a Sewer Task Force, peopled by city employees, to figure out what to do with the various sewer problems. The committee presented its report to the mayor on August 23, 2005, and the mayor has kept it quiet. One of the report's recommendations is to make the moratorium in North Gloucester permanent until the STEP system gets fixed.
In February 2006 the report was leaked, at least to the press, and at that time the mayor said he would accept this and several other recommendations and present them to the city council.
According to the GDT, the mayor reversed himself in March, and said he would allow a sewer extension specifically for this development.
See at this point the excellent
letter to the editor by Jim Groves, Vice-President, AB Woodlands Association, April 1, 2006.
On April 18, 2006, after a specific order by councilor Bruce Tobey, the mayor finally presented the report to the City Council. He emphasized that this was a draft report and he would not speak as to adopting any of the recommendations.
The report is available online. (Warning: 16 megabytes.)
See the article in the GDT.
Briefly, there are three important recommendations in this report:
1. All future sewers to be paid for by residents (abutters) without financial assistance from the City.
2. An existing moratorium on private sewer extensions to be formally accepted.
3. A moratorium on extensions, public or private, to the STEP system.
The Council has discussed the report in a special Council meeting, Tuesday May 9, where the public was invited to participate. See the article in the GDT of Monday, May 8, announcing the meeting.
At the meeting, most of the protests came from citizens who said that changing the City's policy regarding partial payment of sewer betterments was unfair. This issue does not relate to this development, but the protests tend to discredit the task force report.
Other protests came against the moratorium on private sewer extensions, which leads to unacceptable situations for some existing dwellings. (They have a failing septic system. The city won't supply them with sewer. They are not allowed to do it themselves. They're stuck.) Again, this recommendation will be difficult for the council to accept as proposed. It only applies to this development if that were counted as an extension, which it obviously is - but see below, under Legal issues.
The third item, no extensions to the STEP, got barely a mention.
A report will be commissioned to establish the capacity of the STEP system.
There will be further discussions between the Council and the public on this issue.

June 30, 2006 - a conditional permit.
After the developer and his attorney had put enough pressure on the city government, David Knowles, City Engineer, who had previously stated that there would be no extensions to the STEP nor any private sewer extensions, issued a conditional permit to the developer to hook up thirty homes. One of the conditions was that the developer provide an engineering study to prove that the STEP system has enough capacity, if necessary by means of off-hour pumping and an enormous holding tank. This study is currently (September 1) not yet available.
Another problem (for the developer and his sewer) is that we (AB Woodlands, helped by a professional engineer) are claiming that for various reasons, according to state regulations, this proposed sewer needs a permit from the state Dept of Environmental Protection. See the
article by Richard Gaines about the Planning Board meeting on August 28.

Legal issues about sewer hookups.
Massachusetts state law makes a distinction between a sewer connection and a sewer extension.
A connection simply means hooking up one or more lots to an existing sewer system. State law requires the city to provide a connection to anyone with the proper permit.
An extension is anything beyond that, and the city can refuse that, because of lack of capacity, or simply lack of money. But the city has to have a valid reason, or the developer will sue.
One of the recommendations of the famous Sewer Task Force report is to stop any private sewer extensions (but not connections), of which there are a great many.
In this case, which is obviously an extension, the developer has said he will pay for the construction and maintenance of the sewer himself, thus solving the "not enough money" issue, and because he does the construction himself it should count as a connection rather than an extension. The Engineering Department has accepted this. Obviously, this question has not yet been settled.
Seveal people people are suing the City for being denied a private sewer extension (to an existing dwelling). If the developer had been rejected, he would surely have sued. It is certain that the threat of legal action was the cause of the mayor's about-face. But more legal action is still likely ; apparently the mayor prefers to be sued by the citizens rather than by a developer.

Water pressure.
There is a similar situation with water pressure. The City has acknowledged that the water pressure on Revere and Bennett Street is insufficient, and has plans on how to fix it, but this needs time and money. In the meantime, it would be irresponsible to build thirty houses at a remote location with insufficient water pressure for fire control.
Both the sewer problem and the water pressure problem can be fixed by money, but they are overshadowed, in North Gloucester, by the closing of the Bay View fire station, which also needs money to be reopened, and which has a higher priority for the residents.

Cluster development.
Cluster development is described in the City of Gloucester
Zoning Ordinance, Section 5.9.
It allows the developer, rather than cut up a parcel in minimum-size cookie-cutter lots, to cluster housing units together on much smaller lots (minimum 10,000 sq ft), if he sets aside at least 30% of the parcel for "open space", i.e. space not built on and not used for roads. This is easy to promise, as in practice, when you cluster houses together in a residential area, you can't do anything with the rest of the area anyway. Just about any use, like sports fields with accompanying parking lots, qualifies as "open space".
The maximum size of a cluster is 10 single-family or two-family houses, or 4 multi-family houses.
In a cluster development a developer is allowed 10% more units than normal zoning would allow. Also, if he donates an unspecified amount of space to conservation, he is allowed an additional 25% more units.

The Langsford Pond development is on just over 30 acres. Cluster development therefore gives him 34 units, and donating to conservation brings the number to 42. One unit is a single-family or two-family house ; it is not clear how multi-family houses (condos) get calculated.
The developer has proposed three clusters ; two of 10 units each with the third possibly including multi-family houses.
He has promised that 70% will be set aside for conservation. Much of that is wetland, which is protected anyway, and which is not counted as part of the 30% of "open space" that he has to provide. The remaining 30% is just enough for three clusters at 10,000 sq ft per unit plus connecting roads.


This is the picture at the head of the main page of this site.
The proposed area to be developed viewed fron the west, over Langsford Pond.
At the extreme left, up the hill, you can just see the Tufts house. The proposed clusters of houses are in a line high up on the hill and away from the pond. The entire hillside would be cleared.


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