Resolution eyed in roads dispute between developer, homeowners
Published: 4/23/2022 10:58:31 AM
Modified: 4/23/2022 10:57:05 AM
AMHERST – Roads in a housing development near the Belchertown line could soon be brought up to town standards, possibly bringing a resolution to a long-running dispute between the developer and homeowners.
At the Planning Board April 20, Ted Parker of Tofino Associates said that he is willing to provide the town up to $50,000, which the town could hold in escrow, until final work is done, including a top coat of pavement on Linden Ridge and Hawthorne roads and Concord Way, and drainage work related to stormwater structures.
Parker said he is committed to getting this work done at the Amherst Hills development as efficiently and quickly as possible, though a timeline is not yet known.
The amount the developer is willing to provide is based on doubling estimates by Town Engineer Jason Skeels for the remaining work.
Should the roads be completed, that would allow release of nine building lots, as well as the eventual acceptance of the streets as town roads. Parker said he has put in requests to both the Amherst Town Council and the Belchertown Select Board, related to a section of Concord Way. for this acceptance.
If the issues are resolved, it would affect the Planning Board’s instructions from 2019, when the building commissioner was advised not to allow development of the building lots until the roads were brought to town standards. At the time, the board had been approached by residents who feared that the roads would continue to deteriorate and that, even though not yet accepted by the town, the Department of Public Works would stop doing winter maintenance.
The Planning Board is also part of a three-party agreement that included a $288,000 security deposit for completing the roadwork.
Since then, Tofino filed a Land Court lawsuit against residents as a way to protect the right to build. Significant work has also been done on the roads.
Planning Director Christine Brestrup explained that town policy is not to accept roads until there is a top coat, but that the town also doesn’t want to see heavy equipment on roads still under development.
“This works for small subdivisions, but not so well for large ones,” Brestrup said.
Though the board made no decision on whether to enter a new agreement with Tofino, Jim Masteralexis, a Linden Ridge Road resident, said he would like to see the roads finished before Tofino resumes any home building.
“I think the simplest solution is to get the work done, and to release the lots,” Masteralexis said.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at email@example.com.