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Planning Board Grants EIDR Approval for Trailhead Parking on High Street

The parking lot will be located at the entrance of a system of trails at 1255 High St.

The Westwood Planning Board last week unanimously voted to grant Environmental Impact and Design Review (EIDR) approval for a at 1255 High St.

The parking area was proposed by Westwood residents Mr. and Mrs. Duncan McFarland at a meeting in January. The McFarlands explained during that meeting that the lot would be small and made of gravel, and would hold approximately 15 cars.

The lot would be located where the old driveway from a former residence at the address stood; curbing from the driveway would be used in creation of the lot.

The proposed area would be equipped with a bench, area for a bike rack and a small informational kiosk. The McFarlands have been working with Hale Reservation and the abutters of the land to have an easement across the property to create a nice, family friendly trail system.

Planning and Land Use Specialist Janice Barba explained that there was very little controversy over the plan, and that the Board was pleased with the application.

Town Planner Nora Loughnane agreed with Barba, calling the application “straightforward.” Loughnane noted that the Planning Board did have a few questions about delineating parking spaces on a gravel lot.

She explained that the plans were modified to move a handicapped parking space to a dedicated area near the top of the parking lot. This is being done to prevent people from accidentally parking their cars within the loading area needed for the handicapped space.

The Planning Board also considered requiring curb stops in the project. This would be to determine regular parking spaces. However, Eric Arnold of Hale Reservation noted that he had maintenance issues with curb stops in gravel lots.

“He suggested they start out without the curb stops, and then add them in if inefficient use of the parking lot becomes an issue,” said Loughnane. “That suggestion was accepted by the board.”

Loughnane said that the only other question that came up pertained to landscaping screening of the lot area. Westwood Police Sgt. Paul Sicard had concerns with the possibility of security issues related to an obstructed view of the parking area from High Street.

The Board looked to ease the concerns with the bylaw requirements for screening of parked cars from adjacent residential property. Plantings will have to be maintained at close to the minimum 24 inch height requirement listed in the bylaw.

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