Friday, June 4, 2004
ConsCom: steep slopes endanger wetlands East Steet owner charged with wetland violation
A disintegrating access road to a construction site off East Street commanded the attention of the Conservation Commission's May 27 meeting. ConsCom Administrator Sylvia Willard reported that she had received no acknowledgment of two letters to owner Ed Hassey expressing concern about perceived instability in the steeply sloping driveway. She added that, following dispatch of the letters, she had observed increasing siltation into the nearby wetland, along with indications that vehicles entering the lot might also be in danger of sliding into the abyss.
Clearly losing patience with the client, commission members voted to send a certified letter informing Hassey that he was now in violation of the Wetland Protection Act and that the observed infringement included, but was not limited to, failure to stabilize the site, with resulting discharge of sand into the resource area. A simultaneous enforcement order requires the owner to advise the board as to steps being taken to prevent further damage to the wetland. If such action does not occur by June 10, said order will be recorded with the Registry of Deeds. Further, he or his representative must appear before the commission at its June 10 session, and failure to do so will cause the board to revoke the Order of Conditions (the original permit) for the entire project.
As of the Memorial Day weekend, considerable heavy equipment activity was seen at the site.
Bedford Road property needs "tricky grading"
The issue of steep slopes near wetlands came up again as the commission considered a Notice of Intent (NOI) filed by Robert Maglone of Miracle Building Company. Engineer George Dimakarakis of Stamski and McNary had unveiled a plan for replacing an existing house at 151 Bedford Road with a new dwelling, well, and portion of the driveway. A large part of the work would take place within the 100-foot buffer zone of a wetland and the rim of a 200-foot riverfront area. Dimakarakis said the proposed dwelling would be located further back from the road, within 54 feet of the wetland, and would require "somewhat tricky grading because of a significant drop-off." The enlarged front lawn and a modest planting of trees would then shelter the house from traffic on Bedford Road and enhance privacy for the owners and for an abutting residence.
Commissioner Roy Watson said he could understand the landowner's aesthetic preferences, but had difficulty accepting a changed location for the replacement dwelling, because it would bring new construction further into the flat area leading to the wetland. He feared that this open space would tempt future owners to develop even closer to the resource area. Seeking to remove that objection, Dimakarakis suggested building a retaining wall and/or planting trees to obviate further disturbance.
When asked to comment on the plan, abutter Fred Lewis said that, although he was conservation-minded, he would clearly benefit from having the house moved further back. A second riverfront abutter, Love Seawright, explained that she was present to allay concerns about possible effect that runoff and drainage changes might bring to her property and to the Shohet farm.
When Commissioner Tom Brownrigg also opposed putting the house so far back that construction would cut into the steep slope, Dimakarakis interjected a compromise between the owner's position and that preferred by the board. Commissioners Tom Schultz and Tricia Smith expressed willingness to consider a compromise that would reduce the setback and include a clear demarcation of an "end-of-usage" zone in the flat land to the rear. Brownrigg reiterated his preference for a plan that would leave the slope undisturbed or, if that were impossible, to see the slope stabilized more effectively.
Asked for a continuance to allow the engineer to "work on" the commission's several concerns, Maglone agreed to return in two weeks with a revised proposal.
© 2004 The