The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 31, 2000


Revised Acton Street building plan bumps into wetlands issues

The Carlisle Conservation Commission spent considerable time studying a new Notice of Intent (NOI) to build on a five-and-a-half acre parcel with a challenging history. On March 23, engineer Erich Nitzsche presented a proposal from Steve Cote of Cote and Foster for construction of a house near the Carlisle-Acton line on land that abuts the Valentine farm on Acton Street. The house would be built toward the back of a 2,000-foot lot and would require a 12-foot-wide driveway with two-foot shoulders crossing wetlands in two places. Because the crossings would require filling 7,800 square feet of resource area, substantial wetland replication would be mandatory.

Conservation administrator Katrina Proctor reminded the commissioners that the proposal is a "limited project" under the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act because the amount of wetland disturbance exceeds the 5,000-square-foot limit. This means that the plan cannot be accepted unless the applicant can prove that he has no other way to access his upland site. This is where the history becomes crucial to a decision.

Impact of subdividing land

In 1997, Nashoba Trust proposed building according to a similar plan, but at that time, the lot was larger and the board could discern at least one other possible access route, so they sent the applicant away to seek an alternative solution. During the intervening three years, the lot in question has been subdivided, closing off the most likely

alternative. According to Proctor, if the present owner was the one who caused his own "hardship" by subdividing the lot, the commission is not obliged to okay the project.

History aside, the commission was not satisfied with the size of the proposed replication area. Members questioned the specification for crossing what Nitzsche described as an intermittent stream. His designation was immediately challenged by commissioner Sylvia Willard, who displayed a quad map that clearly showed the brook to be perennial.

An abutter on the Acton side of the property, Lauren Rosenzweig, expressed concern about preservation of the wetlands, particularly in view of its proximity to a large tract being considered for purchase by the town of Acton. It was also recalled that when the previous application was presented in 1997, Acton Street resident Jack Valentine had appeared and noted serious qualms about the handling of spring flooding.

Pointing out that the applicant would have to return with plans for an enlarged replication area, commissioner Carolyn Kiely asked for a continuance to April 27. "That will also give us time to look into the limited project status," she added. Cote was agreeable.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito