Friday, November 15, 2002
ConsCom identifies wetland boundaries on South Street parcel
Following a lively public hearing September 12 and two continuations on October 24 and November 7, the conservation commission accepted wetland boundary delineations for a 14.3-acre property off South Street near its junction with West Street. The original plan, presented by engineer Jeffrey Peterson representing the Larson Trust, aroused considerable opposition from abutters who disputed the applicants' designation of a stream located in the center of the tract as "intermittent." They maintained, and commission maps agreed, that the small tributary to Spencer Brook was clearly shown as perennial on a U.S. Geological Survey map. This seeming technicality would be critical for future development plans, since a perennial stream is protected by a 200-foot buffer zone under the state's Rivers Act.
Peterson had provided photographs of the brook's course that showed portions of the streambed dry over four days in August. To abutter statements that the weather had been unusually dry during the spring and summer of 2002, he had countered that according to the definition of "drought" under Department of Environmental Protection regulations, the period in question did not qualify, and therefore the stream must be considered intermittent.
In addition to a desire to clear up the correct designation of the stream in question, the commission also wanted more information about a second off-site Spencer Brook tributary, plus clarification of the status of a pond upstream of the site and peer verification of all wetland boundaries depicted on the applicant's maps. Therefore, they asked for, and the applicants agreed to, a peer review. An extensive site investigation was performed by consultant John Rockwood of EcoTec, commission administrator Sylvia Willard and Peterson, with Rockwood drafting an item-by-item list of the results.
The "findings" as presented November 7 can be summarized as follows:
• They again observed the stream in the center of the property to be without flow and obtained confirmation that the Northeast Region of Massachusetts was not officially considered to be "in an extended period of drought" during the months covered; therefore, the tributary must be designated as intermittent and does not qualify as riverfront.
• A small arc of riverfront area does exist on the southeastern corner of the tract in association with a segment of an off-site tributary to Spencer Brook.
• Although they did find an impoundment forming a pond upstream of the intermittent tributary, there were no water-control structures, the water in the pond had not over-topped and its inlets were dry.
• There is most probably some buffer zone associated with an off-site Bordering Vegetated Wetland that is not indicated on the plan but must be considered in any future filings.
• In all other respects the referenced plan represents an accurate delineation of the BVWs on the property.
The commission's official Order of Resource Area Delineation issued at the close of the session is merely a necessary first step that defines its jurisdictional areas prior to the time when the applicant files specific development proposals.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito