We voted at our meeting on March 17, 2009 to approve a special use permit for phases IV and V of Claremont on Homestead Road.  Safety concerns about the project were the major focus of discussion at the public hearings for this project. 

The first safety concern dealt with the crossing of Homestead Road.  When these phases of Claremont are complete, these residents will need to go back and forth across Homestead Road to use the community swimming pool (already built in one of the earlier phases).  To alleviate these concerns, the project includes a greenway that will run under a nearby bridge on Homestead Road providing access from one side to the other, although it is a short distance down from the swimming pool.  The most obvious place where people will want to cross the street looks to be near the entrance roads for the Claremont communities off of Homestead Road.  After petitioning for a light of some sort in this area, DOT is allowing a marked pedestrian crossing with a pedestrian refuge island for persons walking across Homestead Road at Claremont Drive.  It seems obvious that at some future point we will petition again for a blinking light, stoplight or pedestrian light as we observe and can better quantify how traffic patterns in this area develop.

A second safety concern was from residents who live near this project.  These residents believe that phase V should not have a connector road leading south through Colfax Road, because this would result in dangerous, high speed traffic in that area and neighboring streets.  These residents preferred only a pedestrian walkway at this connection.  Because of the overwhelming concerns of these citizens, in lieu of a connector road, the Board voted to have the developer instead construct an asphalt path wide enough for fire emergency access south to Colfax Drive, where bollards must be installed.  The Board noted that in the future, when other road connections are built out on this side of Homestead Road, this could become a full-street connection.  Joal Hall Brown was the only Board member voting against the permit, citing overall safety concerns.

This vote drew criticism from at least one member of the Planning Board, and probably confused those in town who are in strong support of the connector road policy.  These persons argue that if a connector road could not be built here (where there is a sidewalk on one side and a neighboring collector street), how is the connector road policy ever justified?  Won’t residents often, if not always, make the argument that more traffic means less safety?  These are good questions.  The Board will be reviewing the connector road policy at some point in the near future, and I am hopeful that the intention and effect of the policy will be discussed and reviewed again at that time.