The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied the release of a $10,000 cash bond to the developer of the Old Farms luxury subdivision located off of Atkins Street. The bond was to ensure that the developer planted two street-side trees on every lot, fulfilling a condition of the orignal subdivision approval in 1988.
This is the developer's second recent request to have the bond released. In January of 2012, the Commission denied his plea that it was too late to plant the trees and it was no longer necessary. The Commission directed the developer to offer to plant two trees on the property of each of the current owners.
Two residents of Old Farms spoke to the Commission about the issue. Jennifer Mahr spoke first as a resident of Old Farms, and said that she had never been offered the trees and objected to the release of the cash bond. She also introduced herself as the Chair of the Westfield Residents Association, and said that the WRA was always concerned that developers keep to all conditions of the subdivision approval. Mark Laucella, President of the Old Farms Homeowner's Association, also asked the Commission to deny the release of the cash bond.
In response to questions from Commissioner Nick Fazzino, Deputy Planner Michiel Wackers said that the city had been negotiating with the developer, but had not yet resolved the issue. No representatives of the developer were present at the meeting.
After the meeting, Wackers told The Eye that it would be difficult for the City to do the work, because of the logistics of dealing with unique situations on each of several dozen private properties. However, by State law, the city cannot give the money to another party (such as the Homeowner's Association) to do that work. If the city cannot convince the original developer to follow through on its commitment, the money may remain in the city's accounts indefinitely.