Friday, July 18, 2003
ConsCom hears plans for projects on Ward Land, Greenough Pond
The Conservation Commission considered preliminary paperwork for two significant development projects on June 26 and July 10, respectively. The first consisted of four Abbreviated Notices of Resource Area Delineation (ANRADs) for three lots covering approximately 70 acres of the so-called Ward Land off Cross Street and a modest two-and-a-half acre parcel on South Street, all under the aegis of developer William Costello. The second was a Notice of Intent (NOI) to begin site preparation for later construction of a home above the shore of the 20-acre pond that is considered the jewel of the town's 242-acre Greenough Conser-vation Land.
When a filing indicates the presence of major unflagged wetland resources, the ANRAD process often constitutes the first step in the commission's assessment of the probable wetland impact of the proposed project. In the Costello filing, maps of the three large parcels located on both sides of Cross Street between South Street and Bingham Road, as shown by Stamski and McNary engineer George Dimakarakis and wetland specialist Timothy O'Sullivan of ENSR, Inc. indicated extensive wetland resources within and immediately adjacent to those properties.
The engineers reported the presence of both "bordering vegetated" and "isolated" wetlands on the lot extending to Bingham Road. They indicated that the two parcels east of Cross Street contained intermittent brooks, three wetlands and a pond, while a wetland across the street drained through a culvert into that area. In short, there were plenty of wetland features requiring careful delineation. As chair Tricia Smith explained to an audience of ten or more abutters, the commission could not even begin to consider these lots without an agreed-upon mapping of the wetland boundaries. To accomplish the requisite certitude, Smith indicated that the commission would ask for a peer review of the Stamski and McNary delineations and would recommend John Rockwood of Ecotech out of Worcester to work with O'Sullivan in developing a mutually acceptable delineation. Also because the Carlisle assessor's map showed some "murky" areas on abutting property, those too would need to be explored and flagged, with the permission of their owners. As for the two-and-a-half-acre lot on South Street, abutter George Shepard said he would be glad to give permission for flagging on his property, since water from the lot in question runs through his land. Further consideration of the four Costello filings was continued to August 14.
A Notice of Intent (NOI) from Chris Fielding for site work to include grading, retaining walls and a driveway for a future home overlooking Greenough Pond soon ran into complications at the July 10 meeting . For starters, the lot, which is "protected land within protected land," to quote conservation administrator Sylvia Willard, was put under conservation restriction by former owner Peter Workum. It borders both Pages Brook and a dammed body of water (Greenough Pond) that may technically be a pond or may have "riverine" characteristics. In other words, if the Pages Brook channel runs through the pond to the dam, it may be considered riverine and hence be subject to the provisions of the Massachusetts Rivers Act. Perhaps significantly, an initial commentary received last week from the Department of Environmental Protection raised the question of whether or not this possibility had been considered. All of which led Smith to comment wryly, "Since the condition of the dam itself is a serious concern, this feature could become riverine very suddenly."
Returning to the present, Smith said it was critical for the commission to know the exact nature of the water resources involved before they could properly consider any construction activity. Commissioner Jonathan Beakley suggested, "Function determines how we protect it, and clearly this resource functions as a pond." Smith then proposed that the applicant's delineation expert Dave Crossman of B &C Associates could develop an assessment of the pond's boundaries and technical characteristics. However, depending on the certainty of his results, a peer review might still be requested.
Architect Larry Sorli inquired as to who would pay for the peer review, who would perform it and how long the process would take. The answers were: the applicant, Rockwood and at least a month respectively. When asked if he were willing to continue the hearing and agree to the peer review if it were considered necessary, applicant Fielding said he would consent to continuing the hearing, but would not commit himself on the peer review without knowing the cost.
© 2003 The