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PMP Associates Blog

Municipal Consulting – Roadway Construction

The process of converting land into residential house lots along new roads involves months of planning, engineering, permitting and construction. When design plans are first submitted to a Planning Board, they typically are presented in a “preliminary plan” format to allow for initial comments that will guide the project toward the next step. Municipal consulting peer review services at this phase are just not confirming technical compliance with the Planning Board’s Regulations and local Zoning By-law requirements, but should also include suggestions for the Developer and his design professionals to follow in preparing the Definitive Subdivision Plan.

The Definitive Plan phase is where the more detailed engineering plans are presented to the Planning Board. The peer review at this step is to confirm that the plans meet the standards and regulations before they are approved.

Even with the approval of the Definitive Plan, the Developer still needs to obtain other permits associated with the project.  For example, the proposed roadway and lot development plan has to be submitted to the local electric & telephone companies for the design of their utilities. If a site will disturb more than 1 acre, then a Notice needs to be filed with the EPA under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) prepared. Some properties, due to nearby wetlands, are within the jurisdiction of the local Conservation Commission and require permitting approval.

When the Developer decides to actually begin the construction of the roadway, notice is given to the local Planning Board and other local agencies. The Board’s consultant typically works closely with the Developer and the other local agencies to provide construction observation services during critical phases of this process. For the most part, these observation services are performed on an on-call / part-time basis to document the proper construction of the various project components.

Not every project moves quickly from start to finish. As an example, a small two-lot project in Abington Massachusetts required the construction of a short road with a Cul-de-Sac along with a stormwater management system as well as various utilities.

Final Paving in Cul-de-Sac

Final Paving in Cul-de-Sac

The original Developer started the project, constructed the new roadway improvements through the base course of pavement and then abandoned the project.

A new Developer purchases the subdivision after the project is left untouched for several years. Before this Developer begins working, a review is performed by the Planning Board’s engineering consultant to determine the condition of the project and prepares a list of the repairs, etc. that needs to be performed.

Compacting Process for new pavement

Compacting Process for new pavement

These repairs and long overdue maintenance items are performed by the new Developer and confirmed by the Board’s engineering consultant. Close coordination and communication at this phase of work is very important.

Double curb inlet catch basin

Double curb inlet catch basin

For this particular project, the Developer wanted to complete the majority of the required roadway construction before asking the Planning Board for the release of the two lots from the development “covenant”. Pavement activities are observed by the Board’s engineering consultant on a full-time basis since the proper placement and compaction are critical.

Final Roadway Pavement

Final Roadway Pavement

When a Definitive Subdivision in Massachusetts is approved and the plans are recorded at the Registry of Deeds, a signed “covenant” is also recorded. The covenant is a binding legal document (same term as in the Bible) that clearly states that the Developer can not sell the lots or get a building permit until he completes all of the construction improvements as shown on the subdivision plans. There is a provision to get a “release” from the covenant if the Developer is willing to post some form of surety to cover the costs for completing the project. One of the other duties of the Planning Board’s engineering consultant is to establish the list of outstanding construction items to create the “Bond Estimate” for the Board to use in determining the amount of the surety that the Developer must provide before he can get the formal release documents (which are also recorded at the Registry of Deeds).

The more work that is performed and completed by the Developer prior to the creation of the Bond Estimate results in a much lower surety amount.

The Developer of this project decided to install the final paving surface before the two houses are started. The Bond Estimate will include provisions for the repair of the pavement should damages occur.

At the end of the project, the final conditions will have to be observed by the Board’s consultant, necessary corrections and repairs made and confirmed before the Board can decide to release the surety.

(Since 1997,  Michael E. Perrault, P.E. and P.M.P. Associates, LLC has been providing professional consulting services to the Town of Abington Planning Board)

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6 Responses to “Municipal Consulting – Roadway Construction”

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