Friday, October 22, 1999
ConsCom takes firm stance denying a Buttrick Woods revision
Carlisle Conservation Commission members displayed uncharacteristic impatience at their October 14 meeting as they chided a representative from the engineering firm of Stamski and McNary. That firm is providing specifications for the Buttrick Woods development. On the hot seat was engineer Beth Schultz, who was presenting an application from the buyer of Lot 11, Kevin Balboni, who wished to amend a previously approved Notice of Intent (NOI) or lot plan. The amendment, as depicted on Schultz's specifications map, called for substantial changes to the original NOI, proposing that a portion of the house be moved into the buffer zone of a nearby wetland. The driveway was to be partially relocated, with the level of the garage elevated to eliminate a need for stairs.
Commissioner Tricia Smith first questioned the amount of fill required to accomplish the modification, and upon further inspection of the plan, also expressed concern that the revisions might lead a future owner to move the landscaped area closer to the wetland. Members recalled that when they had originally approved this and other houses on lots that abutted the wetland, they had been consistent in trying to keep construction out of the buffer zone and reducing future temptation to extend lawns or other cultivated vegetation toward the resource area.
Smith further pointed out that by digging another test pit, the engineers might find it possible to move the septic system, thus allowing the house to be located outside the zone. When Schultz appeared reluctant to start digging more test holes at this juncture, Smith reminded her that the original plan had shown a house completely outside the zone. "We're being asked to be slack on wetland protection to avoid the cost of a new test pit," she suggested.
Using the map, chair Jo Rita Jordan indicated that relocating the septic system only 20 feet would get all construction out of the buffer zone. At this point commissioner John Lee introduced a harder line, declaring, "This plan has almost no resemblance to what you showed us originally. Therefore, I would expect a new application process." Smith added momentum to the turn toward denial, indicating that she resented the whole approach and subsequently called for the hearing to be closed. The vote to end the session and deny the request was unanimous.
To all appearances unruffled by the setback, Schultz returned to the table, this time representing applicant John Willett of Altair Associates, who is proposing construction on the buildable portion of the Wang-Coombs land off Curve Street. Accompanying the developer was Wayne Davis, a driving force in the Carlisle Conservation Trust's plans to develop a part of the south parcel in order to reduce the cost of the total purchase for the town.
Three lots are involved, with a fourth going to Curve Street abutter John Swanson. Davis indicated that in juggling lot lines to preserve as much of the land as possible for agriculture and to accommodate Swanson, the lot in question would require some work within the buffer zone. This would include the well, a portion of the house and grading associated with the sewage disposal system.
Most of the commission's concerns were reserved for the access road, which is not located within their zone of jurisdiction. Lee in particular was dubious about the future stability of a road built on sandy soils in an area with very high groundwater. He feared a collapse, particularly when heavy construction trucks traveled back and forth. Assuring Willett that he knew he had "a very good reputation," Lee observed that the commission had seen roads collapse in places like that before. Willett reassured the commissioner, saying that he had never had a road give way although he has been forced, on occasion, to go down six feet to assure stability.
Jordan noted that the park service has recently been using an organic binder with stone dust to permit roads in problematic soils to bear the weight of heavy trucks. Willett said he would be glad to look into the new product.
In the meantime, final action on the NOI must await commentary from the state's Natural Heritage Program, because of the presence of rare species dependent on the wetlands and nearby upland habitat. The hearing was continued to October 28.
Tall Pines lot
A third, more complex application came from John Swanson and concerned a lot in the Tall Pines development that abuts two restricted conservation areas dating back to the original Tall Pines negotiations. The restrictions protect the habitat of rare species, namely, the spotted salamander and spotted turtle. Conservation administrator Katrina Proctor summarized the history and provisions of the easements for the new commission members, explaining that no work is allowed in Area A and is restricted in Area B where structures are forbidden but grading for septic systems is allowed. Whether grading for a structure is permitted is unclear. In any event, the commission has tried to minimize activity in Area B and prohibit the use of fertilizers and pesticides which can damage sensitive habitats.
With the enumerated restrictions in mind, commissioners raised a number of issues that applied to the Swanson application. First was the size of the generic shape shown, which indicated a house of up to five bedrooms. For the house to remain outside the prohibited area, it would need to be square, not rectangular. Jordan, Smith and Lee were all determined that the area of no disturbance be "permanently" marked or alternatively permanently conditioned. Commissioner Carolyn Kiely remarked, "This is not just another wetland; it involves an endangered species." Therefore, she indicated her hesitancy to approve any proposal that did not include specifications for "a real house." Smith made it clear she wanted to see a plan that did not involve grading for the house inside the B area. "You might even have to use a retaining wall," she told Schultz.
In this case also, ConsCom was awaiting a response from the Natural Heritage Program. A continuation was scheduled for October 28.
Concord Street driveway
A Request for Determination as to whether an official NOI was required was decided in the negative. Therefore applicant Cora Sonnen of Concord Street got the green light for paving an existing driveway. The sole condition was that Proctor inspect the placement of hay bales before the work begins.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito