The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 2004


ConsCom approves Benfield Parcels B and C driveways
Wetland boundaries on Concord Street property accepted

The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) wrapped up anticipated approvals on three significant filings at a relatively brief session December 2. The ongoing hearings covered access plans for Benfield Parcels B and C and an agreement on delineation of wetland resource boundaries on a 20-acre Concord Street site slated for build-out by Bruce Wheeler of Habitech Development Corporation, LLC.

Benfield Parcels B and C

ConsCom acceptance of two common drives off West Street, one for Parcel B and one for Parcel C, completed a banner week for Northwest Residential Corporation President Frank Stewart and engineer Rob Gemma who had won a heavily negotiated special permit for "Apple Grove Lane" and "Hobblebush Lane" from the Planning Board on November 30. The three-month process had included not only the Planning Board and ConsCom but also the Board of Health, Fire Chief David Flannery and Police Chief Dave Galvin.

At a previous meeting on November 14, the commission had moved toward a favorable decision, but final action had been contingent on mutual acceptance of a list of "special conditions" to be documented by Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard.

Pursuant to these added work requirements, Stewart had agreed to the following:

• Install 12-inch above-ground monument markers sunk two and a half feet into the ground to indicate lot-line boundaries of the open-space strips surrounding each of the eight lots.

• Hydro-seed disturbed wetland areas immediately, using native seed mix to discourage dangerous invasive vegetation.

• Hold a pre-construction meeting to make sure all contractors realize the importance of standard and special conditions listed on the work plans.

• Give the ConsCom office 72-hour notice before the start of work which would disturb the wetland or initiate construction of a replication area (an area which replaces destroyed wetland).

• Have a wetland specialist on hand during construction of said replication area.

Stewart also indicated he planned to build both access roads concurrently and would work on the replication areas only during the spring and fall growing seasons. Asked about the agreement reached with the fire chief concerning access to water from the Benfield Pond, Stewart reported that a proposed turn-around at the source had been dropped in favor of a widened section of the Parcel B drive, which will accommodate the tank truck. A pipe will run from the center of the pond through a wooded area to the vehicle. "We have promised Flannery that he can test the hydrologistics of this pond access as soon as it's installed," he concluded.

Under the original accord negotiated between the Benfield family and the non-profit Carlisle Conservation Foundation, the acreage of Parcels B and C allow for four lots in each parcel plus the existing Benfield residence on West Street. All new structures will be set back 300 feet from the road, and each lot will be bounded by a non-buildable protective strip.

These two parcels, the 45-acre Parcel A, which the town voted to purchase at the Annual Town Meeting, plus Parcels D and E, contain 122 acres of protected open space in addition to the building envelopes.

22 acres on Concord Street

Definitely not so happy with the commission's next action were the six or seven neighbors and abutters to the 22-acre Concord Street property who attended the continued public hearing in the faint hope that board members would not accept the opinions of Habitech's wetland consultant Dave Crossman and the commission's choice for peer reviewer John Rockwood. At stake was the status of a tributary to Pages Brook that the experts had declared to be "intermittent" rather than permanent and thus not subject to the added protection afforded under the state Rivers Act. Thus the commission's jurisdiction is limited to the normal 100-foot buffer zones.

At an earlier meeting, the abutter's representatives had disagreed with the consultants, asserting that since the stream never dries up, it should be considered permanent whether or not it drains a large enough area, as determined by the consultants. The delegation did not speak further at this session, and chair Roy Watson proceeded to read the board's findings.

The commission's Order of Resource Area Delineation (ORAD) accepted the boundaries of Bordering Vegetated Wetland (BVD) and associated buffer zones as shown on the recently revised plans. Since the stream had been declared intermittent, no River Front Area (subject to the more stringent regulations of the Rivers act) was found to exist within the site. Two isolated wet areas were found to hold insufficient water to be subject to ConsCom jurisdiction under the state Wetland Protection Act. However the commission requested that "the applicant seek a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers relative to possible federal jurisdiction."

Finally, the owner was also asked to evaluate several "ponding areas" within both the BVD and wet areas in the spring to determine if they would qualify as "Vernal Pools," and thus be subject to some protection.

A vote to issue the ORAD passed with commissioner Tom Brownrigg abstaining due to HIS absence FROM an earlier part of the public hearing.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito