Friday, May 7, 2004
How to approach the BOH
The Board of Health (BOH) meeting last week reinforced the rule that property owners requesting variances need to anticipate all questions. Two cases, one involving the property at the 131 Virginia Farme and one at 272 Concord Street, passed with variances as requested by their respective owners, but one involved almost an hour of heated discussion, while the other took less than 15 minutes.
Virginia Farme: difficult questions
The first case dealt with the repair of a failed system. Ted Doucette from Wind River Environmental represented the owners of 131 Virginia Farme, and explained simply that, "There is not a better location on the site." Unfortunately, the location required two variances: one reducing the minimum 100-feet setback from wetlands to 50 feet, the other reducing the required distance to groundwater from four feet to three.
Chair Martha Bedrosian voiced cautious support for the variances as they involved a repair, and as it appeared that no other suitable location existed. Member Lisa Davis-Lewis showed concern about the proximity to wetlands, as there appeared to be not even one foot of leeway to the wetlands even with the reduction from 100 to 50 feet. The Conservation Commission had already delayed its decision until the BOH ruled. The BOH discussed the issue, and approved the variance but requested careful delineation of the wetland line to verify it during excavation.
Member Michael Holland cautioned on approving the groundwater reduction as it represents "the last of ten variances [we are] supposed to grant. It is not an inconsequential variance." The board understood that the new system, although only three feet above groundwater, would still improve the situation. The current system is at groundwater and seepage of water is occurring in the house. Holland also allowed that the proposed installer had shown that the grading requirement of four feet would be unjust, but searched for an explanation to meet the second part of approving such a variance: improving the system even more than required. This allows for some sort of a buffer.
The decision grew heated with the technical merits of the system under question. Finally, the board concluded that the new system allowed for a garbage disposal, and that the expanded leaching field supported granting a variance.
Concord Street: answers ready
The second variance requested by David Kolstad of 272 Concord Street required a plumbing variance. The owner presented written documentation to clarify misinterpretation about the pump needed at the site. The board quickly understood the issues clearly presented, and endorsed the plumbing code variance.
Shorts from the BOH
• Soil testing date extended. John Finnegan of Metrowest Engineering requested an extension on the soil-testing end date of April 30 for one of the Benfield Land parcels. The recent rains have elevated the high-water levels. In the interests of being fair to all testers, the BOH decided to extend the deadline townwide to mid-May.
• Laurel Hollow. The water management plan for the Laurel Hollow 40B development on Lowell Street was accepted.
• Mercury disposal. The BOH decided to continue to promote safe disposal of mercury without levying fines.
© 2004 The