Historical Commission considers CPA fund uses

Weighs in against Long Ridge Road conservation cluster

by Karina Coombs

The Historical Commission met on December 19 to discuss the approaching Community Preservation Act (CPA) application deadline and the Conservation Cluster proposal for 100 Long Ridge Road. The group will continue discussions at their next meeting regarding two potential sites that could benefit from CPA funding: the Town Common and the Central Burial Ground. With a unanimous decision, the group also determined that the proposed conservation cluster would negatively impact the historical significance of its surrounding neighborhood and will submit its recommendation to the Planning Board.

Mindful of the January 25 CPA application deadline, the four members present discussed potential historical sites in Carlisle that could be covered by its funding. The group noted some concern regarding the overall health and design of the trees on the Town Common and the need to bring in an arborist and a landscape architect. They also discussed including the Central Burial Ground in the application, suggesting that the area needed some attention in terms of tree pruning and general landscaping. Member Geoffrey Freeman “thinks it would be wonderful to look at the area historically to see what the native vegetation is.” The group will continue discussions at its next meeting.

Conservation cluster

Asked by the Planning Board for input on the proposed Conservation Cluster at 100 Long Ridge Road, the commission discussed the development at length and after a site visit by each member. Chair Nathan Brown explained that the group was asked to look at the proposal and see “how it protects the rural nature of the town or protects a specific point of interest” given that the applicant, Jeffrey Brem, stated the cluster would not alter the historic appearance or nature of the neighborhood. Stating that the role of the commission was to consider the historical nature of both buildings and landscape throughout town, Brown then asked the group, “When does history start and stop? Do we think that if [it is] not colonial [it is] not significant? Is the town growing, and are there significant historical time periods in the town that incorporate ’50s and ’60s architecture?”

Freeman described his visit to the area and explained that the neighborhood had an “integrity” that he had not seen before. Says Freeman, “There is a sense of place that you don’t usually see.” Member Ken Grady agreed and, while acknowledging that the group could not restrict architectural styles for new homes ,stated, “unless the new homes were built in the same deck house style it would not be keeping in historic nature of the neighborhood.” The group also expressed concern that the neighborhood would be negatively affected with a change in density. Says Freeman, “Even if you built to similar style and materials, could you do that with the density of these? It is more of an impact on the site with the number of dwellings, driveways and setbacks.”

Recognizing that no other commission or committee in Carlisle could speak to the historical significance of a given area, the group agreed unanimously that the neighborhood was an important part of the town’s history and allowing an additional lot for development with the Conservation Cluster would detract from the history of the town and not add to it. The committee will submit its recommendation to the Planning Board for review.

[Ed note: According to Planning Administrator George Mansfield, Brem has since submitted a request to withdraw the conservation cluster application. It will be discussed by the Planning Board on January 14.]