Friday, November 11, 2005
Water concerns dominate Coventry Woods discussion by BOH
As higher-density housing comes to Carlisle, protecting water supplies becomes a growing issue for the Board of Health (BOH). Having recently heard the complaints of a Stearns Street resident who believes irrigation at Malcolm Meadows has reduced flows to his well, on Tuesday, November 8, the BOH discussed how to prevent similar problems for abutters of the 54-unit Coventry Woods 40B to be built on Concord Street. The Zoning Board of Appeals has asked the BOH to provide requests for Coventry Woods requirements by November 21.
According to BOH Chair Martha Bedrosian, "We've heard concerns from the abutters that they want a level of comfort, that if something goes wrong, they have some recourse."
A suggestion that the developer of Coventry Woods post a bond to offset any costs to abutters as a result of water issues met a mixed response. Carlisle Town Counsel did not favor the idea, and the BOH's Mike Holland suggested the bond may be unneeded if liability insurance covers such a scenario.
A bond had been posted at Malcolm Meadows, but inadequate benchmark testing was making it difficult to determine if the abutter's well problems were the result of the development. Regarding well flows, Holland noted, "With a lot of people in town it's a little touch and go a few months of the year. They don't mention it because they don't want to endanger their occupancy permits." Holland believes testing at all phases of the construction provides the best protection for abutters.
Because of the relatively large number of people who will be living in the development, the water supply must meet additional requirements above those for single-family homes. Holland felt the requirement for a "non-community water supply" permit at Coventry Woods could benefit the abutters. Said Holland, the Department of Environmental Protection will require long-term pumping tests, during which it would be reasonable for the BOH to ask that water levels in adjacent wells be monitored. This would require the consent of abutters to install instruments in their wells, but would provide the best picture of possible impacts. If abutters refused access, the BOH could require that rock wells be drilled and the monitoring be done in those. Malcolm Meadows had not required this testing because at 12 units with a potential 24 people, it slid below the 25 person limit for certification as a public water supply.
Coventry Woods abutter Heidi Kummer said surrounding homeowners are aware of the need for benchmark testing. She presented other abutter concerns, including blasting at the site and the reduced water and septic requirements for residences with occupants over age 55, some of whom may have school-aged kids. Could blasting bring pollutants into wells?
Holland reassured her, "There's no possibility of MBTEs from Bob Daisy's old tanks coming down Lowell Road." Also, "There's not a huge correlation between blasting and well yield," though a greater danger from blasting might be structural damage. Holland also noted that Title 5 rules for flows "are pretty conservative" and that "the project's not going to exceed flows, based on my experience."
A letter from Rob Frado of Technical Consulting Group regarding the results of soil tests at the site was also reviewed. The letter concludes "Percolation tests ranged from (less than) 2 mpi to 5 mpi resulting in relatively small leaching areas." Three leaching areas are defined, and the letter notes that soil depths and offsets to public water supply wells are adequate. Frado, who was present, called the results of the percolation tests "pretty consistent," noting "I don't really see any problem (with the plan)." He will continue to monitor as it is tweeked.
Chair Martha Bedrosian requested that any baseline well testing conducted privately by Coventry Woods abutters be filed with the BOH. She also asked for abutter input to the Board of Appeals, as well as input from each board member, "We want to be absolutely sure we don't run into any situations down the road."
© 2005 The