FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance amendment governing dead-end roads and the waivers needed to build on them.

The amendment, recommended by the Planning Board, changes the waiver criteria that the Project Review Board must use to determine if the number of lots allowed on a road and the length of the road can be exceeded.

Previously, no more than 15 lots were allowed on dead-end roads and the roads couldn’t be longer than 2,500 feet. Exceptions were allowed if there were other access roads, the shape of the road made a longer road necessary, or if open space could be preserved by creating a dead end.

The amendment allows up to 19 lots  if there are more than 80 acres of undeveloped land on the parcel where the road is located, or if the road has access to public trails and parking is provided.

The road is also now allowed to extend up to 3,500 feet, if the shape preserves open space. It would also have to have a pavement width of 20 feet and four-foot shoulders.

Although council Chairwoman Melanie Sachs voted in favor of the amendment, she expressed some reservations. Sachs said the revised lot limit and road length seem too specific.

Town Planner Donna Larson on Tuesday said the numbers were chosen because they allow more flexibility, while still instituting a cap.

Sachs also asked why the Planning Board and Project Review Board felt it necessary to change the waiver criteria and why so many waivers are being sought.

Larson said developers often want to build on dead-end roads and that they want to “maximize space” to allow for more lots. She said the Project Review Board has granted many waivers in the past.

“So many waivers have been granted over the years, that it’s become a given,” she said. “The Project Review Board wanted something quantitative.” 

The Traffic and Parking Committee expressed its support for the amendment on July 21, saying the change would reduce the number of waivers requested. The committee also said the increased road width would improve access for emergency vehicles.

Although Tuesday’s ordinance amendment discussion was a public hearing item, no one from the public spoke. Sachs in July said she expected many residents to come and discuss the issue because they had been contacting her about it; Larson said there had been more input from the public earlier in the process.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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