The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 20, 2000


New ConsCom member brings strong interest in protecting environment

After operating for several months with the help of two seasoned but temporary members, namely Claire Wilcox and Steven Spang, the Carlisle Conservation Commission returned to full strength. A newcomer to Carlisle, Jonathan Beakley, took the seventh seat at the massive Clark Room table October 12. A computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in engineering from Yale University and a master's in computer science from Duke University, he is presently a senior software designer with Cisco Systems.

When Beakley and his wife Allison moved here from Boston just this last summer, he wasted no time in getting to know his new town better. Seeing a notice in the Mosquito about a ConsCom vacancy, he typed out an application and began attending commission meetings to learn what the job entailed.

At his official interview September 28, Beakley told the commission that he sees the two biggest challenges facing us all as global climate change and maintenance of biodiversity. He continued, "To the degree that we can do something about the latter right here, I would like to help." In addition to what he termed this "unselfish" motive for wanting to serve, he explained that his "selfish" reason was related to his choice of Carlisle as a permanent home, since "towns that respect the diversity of nature provide a higher quality of life for their residents." Volunteering on a town board has particular resonance with Beakley, because he feels that where governmental action is called for to help protect the environment, it should remain as much as possible at the local level, and this requires individual responsibility.

As one with no formal environmental training, Beakley is planning to take full advantage of training opportunities offered by the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, starting with their eight-unit basic course. As a computer person, he also foresees heavy use of the Internet to enrich classroom and field experience in areas that interest him most, including biodiversity and problems that may call for a regional approach.

When asked in a telephone interview what guidelines he might apply in making decisions that require the commission to draw a line between the rights of private property owners and the values of the community, Beakley paused before replying that this was a very tough issue with no possibility of an easy answer. "I don't underestimate the difficulty of finding a balanced approach in some instances," he said, "and that can cause real anguish to a commission member. The only way I can see to approach it is on a case by case basis, another good argument, by the way, for action at the local level.

Beakley was born in New Hampshire, brought up in Atlanta, and has lived briefly in cities from New Jersey to San Antonio. His wife graduated from Brown University and received her law degree from Duke. She practices mutual fund law in the Boston office of the Philadelphia-based firm Dechert.

Nowell Farme NOI

The new commissioner got a good overview of what he will be doing on two Thursday evenings a month as the commission considered five Notices of Intent (NOIs) for construction. In the first Jean Buckborough of Nowell Farme Road was finally able to write "finis" to her struggle to explain and make amends for a wetland violation that involved illegal clearing. She presented a new NOI that specified in detail how she planned to remove offending logs and brush, protect the area from further damage, and revegetate a burned area. Commission members studied the maps closely and issued a standard order of conditions after Buckborough proposed to accomplish the cleanup after the first hard frost to avoid "mucking up" the area.

The commission made quick work of the second NOI when it became apparent that the party who had signed it had pulled out of an agreement, and the new owner of record had not signed the paperwork. Chair Carolyn Kiely informed a frustrated environmental engineer that Carlisle's Wetland Bylaw requires signature by the actual owner and suggested a continuance to October 26 at 8:30 p.m.

Sunset Road and Tall Pines

Conservation administrator Sylvia Willard then discovered that the next NOI also lacked a signature. To everyone's relief, owner Nicholas Carr rose from the audience and did his duty. The application, which involved a Title 5 failure on Sunset Road and described a new system 60 feet from the wetland, was duly approved.

Also receiving a nod was an NOI for construction of a new house in the Tall Pines subdivision. Engineer Joseph March of Stamski and McNary submitted specifications to replace those that had defined a "generic" house prior to the Wilkins Lane lot being sold to Ken and Kelly Driscoll.

The final applicant Eric Schurr of Lot 1 Swanson Lane opened his presentation with the admission that, "I've never faced a tribunal before." He wished to change the original NOI, so he could clear a 20-foot space for a soccer area for his young children. The board, which had previously questioned a planned swimming pool, tried to convince him that the play area was not critical. Explaining that he had already promised his kids, he remained adamant. Reluctantly, the commission agreed to a compromise that would allow removal of one big tree and a number of small ones, but with the proviso that the roots be ground down, not removed, and that a line of boulders permanently mark the 30-foot no-disturbance area near the wetland.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito