The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 3, 2004


ConsCom, abutters concerned about Brook Street horse stable

Following mounting pressure from abutters, the Carlisle Board of Health (BOH), and the Conservation Commission (ConsCom), Ted Van Dusen of Brook Street appeared before the ConsCom on August 26 to ask for ex post facto approval for a "temporary" plan to maintain electric fencing around a tennis court and other adjacent territory near his barn to serve as a paddock for two horses, one his own and the other a "companion."

Van Dusen explained that when he had first introduced the horses in the fall of 2003, he had composted the manure in an area previously used for composting grass clippings, "thinking it would be perfect for the winter." However, at present he is trucking it out on a regular basis as ordered by the BOH pending the filing before the Conservation Commission. Therefore he was also seeking approval of a plan for containment and/or composting of the manure.

Representing himself, Van Dusen submitted a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) to the Commission at their August 26 meeting. An RDA, which is much less encompassing than a Notice of Intent (NOI), asks the commissioners to decide first whether they have jurisdiction and second whether or not the applicant would need to file an NOI. The Commission voted unanimously to give a positive answer to both those questions. In other words, Van Dusen will be required to file the more detailed and costly documentation.

Abutters object to odors, overflow

The Commission had been in receipt of letters from three abutters as soon as Van Dusen's public hearing was announced. The first, from the Noftle family on Brook Street, detailed four primary issues: 1) manure storage and its impact on ground water quality, 2)"foul odor" from the manure which affected quality of life and property values, 3) boarding of horses in a residential area, and 4) the need for future monitoring of the project to ensure compliance.

The communication from Brook Street resident Mitchell Weiss summarized his opposition as: 1) historically inadequate manure management [as cited by the BOH], 2) a proposed paddock location within the 100-foot wetland buffer zone, uphill from Pages Brook, and within a flood hazard district, and 3) inadequacy of the proposed area for absorption of animal waste.

Finally, Michael Malcos of East Street listed his concerns as threefold: 1) odor, 2) solids pollution when heavy spring rains cause the brook to overflow into the proposed paddock area, and 3) the inadequacy of the area under consideration for absorbing the quantity of liquid waste produced.

ConsCom worries about wetlands

Explaining to Van Dusen that it is the commission's job to "assess impact" on the resource areas,namely the wetlands and two brooks, Commissioner Tom Schultz declared, "To do that we need more information." As an example, he asked, "Do you know the exact location of your neighbor's wells?" The question remaining open, Commissioner Brownrigg reinforced the opinion that critical details were missing. He expressed serious concern about a tributary to Pages Brook that is shown as a perennial stream on the U.S. Geological Survey and is thus subject to the state's Rivers Act, but does not appear on Van Dusen's plans.

Member Tricia Smith added her assessment that there just wasn't sufficient detail for the commission to consider a management plan or thereafter to impose conditions. Stressing that the current activity is in violation of the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act, she said she was anxious to inspect the site "to see how the lot has stood up to 18 months of horses being present," and "to make sure there's no runoff the way you're now doing your stockpiling of manure."

Following a summary from Commissioner Peter Burn that concluded that the applicant needed to provide a detailed map of the lot , with the resource areas clearly delineated, and an equally detailed management plan, all of which meant that the commission would require a full fledged application ( Notice of Intent ), Van Dusen inquired what his chances were of having such a plan accepted, since an NOI would involve considerable work and expense.

Because the commissioners' comments indicated a clear consensus that no decision of any sort could be made without further data, Chair Roy Watson again stated the legal fact that the commission's job is to protect the wetlands and that the facts presented could not assure that result. Therefore, he called for a motion on Van Dusen's request to have his preliminary plans accepted and thus to avoid filing a full NOI. The request was turned down unanimously.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito