The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 21, 2001


Work in the wetland border zone:
some site improvements are exempt

Homeowners with property located within 100 feet of a wetland or 200 feet of a river or stream can save themselves time, money and worry by talking to the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) in the early stages of any landscape project.

At the commission's December 13 meeting administrator Sylvia Willard reviewed department of environmental protection (DEP) policies which exempt certain activities within a bordering vegetated wetland (BVW) or riverfront from "formal review" (meaning the filing of official Notices of Intent, Requests for Applicability or distribution of notices to abutters). The administrator noted that a call to the office would give her an opportunity to visit the site, prescribe erosion control measures and allow the work to proceed free of professional specifications and appearances before the conservation commission.

The state's list of exempt activities includes the following:

1. Unpaved pedestrian walkways for private use

2. Fencing, if it doesn't prevent wildlife movement, plus stone walls and stacks of cordwood

3. Vista pruning of non-landscaped areas

4. Planting of native trees, shrubs or groundcover, but not lawns

5. Conversion of impervious to vegetated surfaces if erosion and sedimentation controls are used during construction

6. Conversion of lawn area to uses accessory to single family houses. These include decks and sheds if the house existed on August 7, 1996 and erosion and sedimentation controls are used

7. Activities necessary for planning and design that are temporary and have negligible impact, e.g. borings, sampling, monitoring wells.

Under exemption 4, Willard proposed that the commission add a section on removal of trees within the outer 50 feet from a BVW and within the developed yard of an existing home, with certain conditions to be specified by the commission. The commissioners took the recom-mendation under advisement pending a report on policies in effect in surrounding towns.

Saving relics

One local landowner with a proposal that doesn't fit into any neat conservation category is Dick Shohet of Mill Iron Farm, the cattleman whose animals browse in the fields behind Kimball's ice cream stand (formerly Bates Farm). Shohet told the board he has two large culverts that had collapsed and were pulled up some time ago. Since they are relics of the original Bates Farm, he would like to use them in an appropriate manner as part of Carlisle's heritage.

Shohet's plan called for using the two culverts, which are each 29 feet in diameter, to provide bridges over a brook on his property and connect old trails that could then be used by hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter. He admitted to hoping that the bridges might keep his animals out of the brook, but warned that he couldn't guarantee how the cows would view the structure.

When asked if the project might be allowed under the state's agricultural exemptions, Shohet replied, "I don't want to do anything that the commission felt was not good. Using my exemption would be dirty pool."

Commissioner Jonathan Bleakley commented that placing the culvert in the waterway would in no way impede the flow of the water or change its course. His colleagues agreed, but to make sure they were on firm ground, asked Willard to check with the DEP as to what paperwork might be required.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito