Last Update for this page:  11/14/2006 09:16:09 AM

 Planning Board meeting

Toll Brothers blasted by homeowners

"Toll Brothers should be ashamed" ~ Mark Abate, Chairman, Planning Board

July 10, 2006 The Planning Board this evening considered two major issues. First, the expansion of the property next to the Golden Pond Healthcare facility on West Main Street.

       Joe Marquedant presented plans for a day care, educational and religious uses of a proposed 19,700 sq. ft. building next to the existing one at 50 Main Street. Without stating who the owner is, he said it was not the same as the Golden Pond facility.

       The Board brought up many issues that they felt should be addressed at the next meeting, including parking, traffic, lighting, building size, screening and landscaping to name a few.

Toll Brothers

       Toll Brothers, Inc., often called the largest luxury home builder in the nation, came before the Board to request an extension of time to complete their work at Hopkinton Highlands II, and several homeowners came to the meeting to express their frustrations over individual and group issues.

       Showing his earnestness to complete the work, Toll Brothers representative Bryan Weiner said, "We don't want to own the roads anymore." When the project is complete, Town Meeting will vote to accept the roads. The Planning Board and some homeowners were treated to a site-walk by Toll Brothers on Friday. Toll Brothers submitted a list and timeline for completion of issues raised by the group.

     Member RJ Dourney said, "There's a lack of confidence whether you all are going to do this expeditiously.

     "It is as if we gave you two years, you would let it go for 1 year and 11 months," he said.

     "You should be ashamed," said Chairman, Mark Abate. "You should be responding to your customers, not us."

     Several people in the audience said that they had lost water pressure last night. That is apparently outside of the purview of the Planning Board.

     The other issue Toll Brothers also wanted addressed a reduction in the performance bond to the tune of around $60,000, which most members, of those who commented, suggested increasing.

      Toll Brothers Attorney, Mark Kaplack, opened his dialogue saying, "I must have attended a different site walk."

      "This hearing does not regard issues related to homeowner satisfaction," Mr. Kaplack said, drawing a roomful of laughter from those very homeowners. "It is not the responsibility of this Board," he said.

      He went on to say that surface water issues should  not be addressed by the Planning Board, but member RJ Dourney disagreed.

       "The Town experienced an expensive and painful event five years ago when water ran between two houses and cost $400,000. It is linked," he said, comparing it to a complaint expressed this evening.

        Selectman Vice-Chair Mary Pratt said that people had to rip up their swimming pools. She said that people had no water system last year and they got no return calls.

       "If I was Toll Brothers, I'd be ashamed of themselves," she said.

       Mr. Kaplack asked for an extension to the end of fall, which he defined as the middle of December.

       A homeowner who spoke out said, "I have been waiting for a new septic for three years. I have been told 'the end of fall' every year. We got a date to close, but we haven't got a date for our septic," she said.

       "They have built 230 houses in this area and they haven't done my septic," she said.

       The frustrated homeowners vented over several issues, but the Planning Board limited their purview to the roads, sidewalks and other issues germane to their decisions.

        Former Director of Municipal Inspections, Selectman Michael Shepard, complained that Toll Brothers leaves their buyers out of the loop.

        "The feeling I had was that Toll Brothers wasn't interested," he said.

        There have been an unusually large number of septic failures in those subdivisions, which some attribute to the existence of ledge and lack of top soil in that part of town, but that is a Board of Health issue.

        "They don't do a real good job of taking care of their customers," Mr. Shepard said.

        After the meeting, he said that he inspected every house Toll Brothers has built.

        "They are safe," he said.

        The Board voted to extend the deadline for completion to October 1, 2006 and to review the performance bond at that time.     

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