After about 14 months of public hearings, the Hamilton Planning Board agreed Tuesday night that it may close the public's input in two weeks on the proposed 43-unit senior housing project planned for property.
The board plans to begin its own deliberations a week later - five days before Christmas.
But it is doubtful if closing the public hearing will end the public scrutiny of the controversial project.
John Hamilton, who is an attorney for some of the neighbors, said the project may well come under the review of other boards and agencies after the Planning Board issues a special permit for its construction.
Among those boards could be the Hamilton Zoning Board of Appeals, because it may exceed the allowed amount of impervious surface allowed on the site.
The amount of impervious surface on the site is important because it dictates how much water runoff there is in a storm. , who live in what the town's engineering consultant described as a neighborhood that is “notoriously prone to flooding.”
The proposed Canter Brook development is a condominium project reserved for residents who are at least 55 years old.
The project developers, who include Jerry Dawson, want to avoid having to go to the ZBA for approval. So they have proposed to use 50,000 square feet of pavers in hopes of reducing the amount of pavement on the site to below 15 percent. It had been 21 percent.
Robert Puff, the engineer who was hired by the Planning Board to review the development plans, questioned whether using pavers on a sand and gravel base would qualify as an impervious surface.
The board took no action on the issue Tuesday night.
Puff presented his review of the site plans in a nine-page letter to the board. He characterized many of the issues in the letter as merely “housekeeping” and could be resolved easily.
One issue is whether the proposed site meets the standard set by the board of reducing the water runoff from the site by 60 percent.
Puff pointed out that the proposed devlopment does reduce water runoff by more than 60 percent in what was described as a two-year storm. That is a storm that generates about 4 inches of rain. In those storms, which happen once every 250 storms or once in two years, the water runoff would be reduced by as much as 78 percent.
But in larger storms, which occur about once every 10 years, the site would reduce about 55 percent of the water that currently runs off the site. That would be slightly below the 60 percent standard.
For even larger storms, such as one that occurs once in a 100 years or 1 percent of the time, the site would reduce water runoff by about 37 percent.
The board admitted it had not clarified what the 60 percent reduction meant.
Robert Forbes with Prime Engineering, which is helping design the site, said the proposed reduction in water runoff is “the biggest he has ever worked on out of hundreds of projects.” He said the site could not meet the 60 percent standard for 100-year storm and was unlikely to reduce it that much in even a 10-year storm.
Puff agreed that the proposed plans would reduce the amount of storm water runoff from the site. He questioned whether the developers had met the standards for water runoff and water quality to qualify for a permit to build additional units on the site.
The neighbors, about a dozen of whom attended the hearing Tuesday, have complained that the site, which is currently used as a riding stable, .
The reason the site causes flooding, Forbes told the neighbors, is that it has a lot of impervious surfaces that do not allow the water to seep into the ground. Under the new plan, he said, the water would be absorbed into the ground, where it would move much more slowly off the site.
At the meeting on Dec. 13, the board will hear from the engineers again on any issues that have not been resolved between them. It will also devote 90 minutes to listening to the neighbors raise any objections or problems they see with the site.
Then the board plans to meet on Dec. 20 to begin deciding on the conditions it will impose on the developers. Planning Board Chairman Peter Clark predicted there could be onehundred conditions.