The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 22, 2000


Berry Corner Lane dispute moves to state DEP

The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) spent the first 45 minutes of its September 14 meeting in an executive session dealing with the seemingly perennial Berry Corner Lane dispute. Members were closeted with town counsel Daniel Deutch, in preparation for a mandatory prehearing conference on September 27 with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administrative judge Kristin M. Palace. As stated in the judge's order, the purpose is "to assist the parties in resolving some or all of the issues without a hearing."

Developer appeal succeeds

The DEP became involved in the heated local controversy when it issued a Superseding Order of Conditions, overturning ConsCom's December 1999 denial of a Notice of Intent (NOI) filed by Michael and David Valchuis. The brothers had been seeking approval of their plan to upgrade the unpaved lane to meet planning board demands and to construct a house on a 13-acre lot at the end of the roadway.

ConsCom had based their refusal on a perceived lack of sufficient detail on the drainage proposal and a lingering question as to the ownership status of the lane itself. Their failure to approve the NOI brought an immediate Valchuis appeal to the DEP. That department's go-ahead order was based on the applicants' subsequent improvements to the original drainage specifications, but it specifically removed the agency from any determination as to contested property rights along the lane.

Residents request hearing

Upset at the DEP's action, four Berry Corner Lane residents filed a request for an adjudicatory hearing, charging inadequacies in the proposed drainage system, failure to address the requirements of the state's Rivers Act, probable damage to trees that line the lane and lack of DEP authority to issue an order on property not owned by the applicants.

At the prehearing conference the judge will explore the possibility of referring the case to a trained mediator, establish a schedule for future proceedings , and identify the issues to be addressed and witnesses to testify at the hearing, if it takes place.

Related lawsuits

It is unclear at this juncture what effect, if any, a resolution of the owners' DEP appeal might have on two related suits against the Carlisle Planning Board and the ConsCom respectively. The two civil actions brought by the Valchuis brothers are pending before the Superior Court.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito