The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 2, 2006


133-acre Westford Street property evaluated for development

Neighborhood apprehensions were evident from the size of the audience that took up most of the seats in the Clark Room when an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) came to the floor at the Conservation Commission's May 25 meeting. The filing encompasses 133.5 acres of undeveloped land, bounded by Westford Street, Curve Street and residential properties on Virginia Farme (most of it popularly identified as the Wilson Land). Among other familiar concerns related to potentially large developments, the filing has particular significance because the land is ranked in the top three parcels on the town's Protection Priority List that appears in this year's Open Space and Recreation Plan.

Making a preliminary presentation of the ANRAD for Wilkins Hill, LLC, engineer Rich Harrington of Stamski and McNary was careful to state that, "There is no work proposed yet. We are just getting your agreement as to the wetland borders on the property." The meeting was quickly turned over to wetland biologist David Crossman, who together with peer reviewer Dr. John Rockwood and Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard is currently exploring, classifying and delineating wetland resources on the parcel. "There's a lot of wetland there and it's mostly red maple swamp," he began. The trio found no vernal pools but the U.S. Geological Survey showed a "permanent" stream in one corner of the site. Crossman believes that is an inaccurate description of what he feels has become an intermittent stream. Rockwood is more hesitant, commenting that recent rains have made the decision "interesting," so he asked for an updated official finding on the matter.

Willard inquired about the extent of the "core habitat" so designated by the state's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, an area she believes covers about 100 acres of the site. She also noted the presence of three permanent Conservation Restrictions and one 30-year restriction.

Mention of the Natural Heritage Program brought abutter Tom Brownrigg into the discussion. The former ConsCom member described the Natural Heritage designation as "an endangered species biomap" that views the area as "containing important natural communities." From studying that document and overlaying its boundaries with those of the Carlisle Assessors map, he said, "I am convinced that it covers the entire property. Therefore, I respectfully request that the ConsCom contact Natural Heritage to find out what animals and/or plants are endangered and have them protected as much as possible."

Given the size and environmental diversity of the parcel, Rockwood estimated it would take the delineation team at least a month to complete the ANRAD filing, and the public hearing was continued to June 22 at 8:30 p.m.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito