Pine Lake Condominiums - Ashland, MA

The Facts

The Facts
Planning Board's Fails
Lay of the Land
Wetlands vs Condo Property
Wetlands vs Set-back... The Smoking Barbecue
Wetlands vs Grade


To All Concerned
There is a LEGAL process of notifying abutters to property, on which construction is planned, so that the abutters are provided DUE PROCESS for airing their concerns and protecting their property.
While condominiums and condominium associations are formed under law, these laws DO NOT abrogate the rights of the individual owners.  For examples: Individual owners have equal rights to vote in Ashland elections; run for public office; have their children attend school; take advantage of Town support services; and enjoy civic functions and pride.
During the Planning Board meeting on April 14, 2005, INDIVIDUALS residing in Pine Lake Condominiums were denied their DUE PROCESS as TAXPAYERS & ABUTTERS... And worse, they were ridiculed by some on the Planning Board while their rights were denied. The Board’s actions were illegal and intolerable... and frankly incomprehensible.
First, let’s set the facts straight...
There are 88 condominium units at Pine Lake. They are owned by individuals, many of whom have been Ashland Residents at Pine Lake for 20 or more years.  If each unit were an Ashland home with 100’ frontage, Pine Lake would consume, 4,400 lineal feet of a block on both sides... that 85% of a mile.  Collectively, Pine Lake Condo owners  pay over $375,000 in individual unit taxes... and do not even get  streets plowed by the Town of Ashland.
Against these 88 individual owner interests are the interest of one party whose building will have a significant impact the entire condo property and value. 
There are numerous issues regarding this property which affect wetlands, storm-water run-off, definition of height above the ground, sealing natural ground drainage with blacktop, and others. 
Since their inception, the building plans have grown in dimensions about which some are now being justified through false statements such as the need for a third floor for a hydraulic elevator, which customarily has the machine room in the basement.
Today, FROM THE 50% ABUTTER’S VIEWPOINT, the proposed building is four (4) VISABLE stories high (basement, 2 floors, upper level with dormers -- with a hidden 5th upper level (approx 24’x 68’) created by a pitched roof which creates it.  That’s 5 STORIES at least 55’ ABOVE GROUND AS WE SEE IT from Pine Lake.
Do we as individual taxpaying owners, have an important interest in this building? 
You Bet.  We will be heard.  And, we will see the architectural elevations which we sought and were denied. And, we will see the wetlands and storm-water run-off plans... And, we will monitor the construction to assure strict adherence to the plans and codes.
For make no mistake, the Pine Lake Condominium Association -- and each individual owner who has an undivisibleble interest in common space -- owns the culvert and property adjacent the property of topic ... And we, in the sense as individual owners,  will be affected by everything that is done on the land at issue, including the rainwater collected off the roof.



There Are Issues
There are several issues regarding the property
currently under plans for the corner of
Route 135 and Voyagers.
The issues are...  
1.  Whether the land is build-able at all as a commercial property.  (This is resolved and deeded, though Village Commercial seems a more reasonable zoning than Commercial A.)
2.  If it is build-able, what will be the controlling wetland issues, if there is strict adherence to the ALL WETLANDS provisions... and prudence
3.  If it is build-able, what will be the wetlands issues downstream, as the impact will be felt downstream as well as at the site after SEALING 90% of the land with blacktop or building.  Where will it drain?  (Currently the lower sections of the Presidential Condos/Apartments appear to be below or equal to wetlands grade.)
4.  If it is build-able, what will be the useable building size, and placement on the property.   Currently, the building will be placed close to Voyagers Lane (off-sets) which will "tunnel" the entrance... especially if the lot on the opposite site of the road eventually does the same.  (Despite assurances by the current owner that he will not sell... everyone owner has a price at which the offer it too good to be denied.)
Currently, there are two sets of ribbons in use... pink and orange.  While color may represent any particular use, it appears that orange is the rough outline of wetlands as SOME ONE determined... and pink appear to be trees that are slated to be cut or saved, though the proximity of the tree near the fireplace seems to indicate CUT which apprears to be in violation of the Wetlands Act.
Currently,  the plans call for covering approximately XXXXXXXX square feet of land which currently is providing NATURAL DRAINAGE, except for a house with  a modest footprint of approximately 40'x24'.
The wetland water flow runs down to Presidential Condos... then beyond onto Metrpolitan.  All of these "downstream" people could be affected by the parking lot that is proposed.  Though technically, they are not physical abutters, but they are water abutters.  They have not be notified.  Yet they should have been for the same reason that smoking was banned in public places:  The inability of the  smoker (in this case the building owner) to control the smoke ( in this case the water) once it has left its person (in this case property).   Further, it appears that the back-lot Presidential condos/apartments appear to be BELOW the flowing water level.

In hindsight, it is infortunate that the Pine Lake Condominium Association did not buy the property at issue.  Had it, the land would have remained opened, the wetlands would have remained protected, the stormater run-off would not be affected, and the traffic intersection -- now controlled by lights only a quarter mile from yet a busier, becoming impossible, intersection -- would remain less conjested.  (Ashland now has four intersections, controlled by traffic lights, within a mile.)
However, due to the Town's allowing Commercial A zoning, the Association, by not acquiring the property, was in essence faced with a resulting Hobson's Choice... Accept this build... or accept this building, for there are always the darker spectre of a fast food establishment fronting and cornering the entrance into the condos.
This leads to the more disturbing notion that, if the Town is not going to protect the taxpayers of over $375,000 per year,  Pine Lake Condo Association should acquire the residence across from the proposed building to preserve resale value of the condo owners.  Also, with the Town having approved the placement of the building at issue so close to the wetland and borders, then the Association should also contemplate the value of adding more units, or a recreation center, on the land that it has.  By the standards which were established on the corner, it would be difficult for the Town to oppose the action based on availabe space.

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