Friday, April 29, 2005
State supports ConsCom on denial of house building project
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has backed the Carlisle Conservation Commission's decision denying a Notice of Intent to clear and build on Lot 3 Koning Farm Road. The applicant Lemonias Development had appealed the denial to the DEP on February 28 and submitted a request for a Superseding Order of Conditions to allow them to proceed with the project.
In a March 24 cover letter to Lemonias and its consultants Stamski and McNary, the Department stated in part: "Following an in-depth reviewthe department concurs with the Commission's actionThe applicant is advised to file a new Notice of Intent, which includes the appropriate information, with the Carlisle Conservation Commission." Explaining reasons for the denial, the Superseding Order declares: "The information submitted by the applicant is not sufficient to describe the site, the work , or the effect of the work on the interests identified in the Wetland Protection Act." It further specifies that work on the project cannot proceed until a new NOI is submitted which provides sufficient information and includes "measures adequate to protect the Act's interests." Those interests as enumerated in the "Findings" section include public, private and ground water supplies; damage and pollution prevention; protection of wildlife habitat, and flood control.
Reached by telephone, ConsCom Chair Roy Watson commented, "Although we were disappointed that Lemonias didn't choose to work with us prior to the denial, we are very, very happy with the DEP's decision and relieved that the state followed its rules."
The denial dates back to two ConsCom public hearings earlier in the year, which covered an ambitious project that originally included 22,000 square feet of work in the buffer zone of a Bordering Vegetated Wetland (BVW) and double that footage of tree removal on the lot as a whole. The grading specifications brought the limit of work to within 25 feet of the wetland itself. Disturbed by what they saw as an unusually destructive plan that intruded deeply into the buffer zone, and finding that such extensive grading and removal of trees could pose a threat to water resources in the area, they asked the applicant to come in with substantial modifications that would "site the structures to fit the lot rather than altering the lot to fit the structures."
In a second hearing on February 10, Peter Lemonias and his engineer returned with a plan that reduced the area of work within the buffer zone to 15,000 square feet and replaced a two-to-one-slope with a terraced stone wall and steps. When commissioners pointed out that the revised plans did not call for relocation of the structures and still specified a large cleared space close to the wetland, the engineer replied that his client found the basic plan to be "optimal" and that he himself "believed" the plan met the WPA regulation and was therefore "approvable."
At several points in the following discussion, commissioners made the point that all they were hearing was the engineer's "opinion" that the plan as presented would not pose a threat to the wetland resource. To break the impasse Chair Roy Watson suggested that Lemonias agree to a peer review by a disinterested wetland expert and if that reviewer found the application to be approvable, he for one "would vote to approve it, in a heartbeat." Other members seconded the recommendation for a peer review, but the applicant refused to consider it and, with a final offer to mark the limit of work with boulders, departed.
The commission took no further action that night, but at its next regular meeting February 24 accepted a statement of denial as drafted by Commissioner Tricia Smith. It read in part: "The applicant provided no analysis or documentation [to prove] that extensive clearing and leveling within the buffer zone would not adversely impact the adjacent BVW."
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