Friday, August 4, 2006
Fields family wins economic impact claim for project near wetlands
Edward and Linda Fields have apparently won their battle to use an economic impact argument to enable them to build a five-bedroom house, driveway and associated utilities in the 200-foot Riverfront Area that follows Pages Brook. When they first filed their application with the Conservation Commission in May, they presented a "preferred" plan that impinged on the protected zone, plus two alternate plans that would have avoided all construction in the restricted area However, it was their contention that the use of either alternate draft would entail economic loss. This led to a legal disagreement between the two attorneys on the board, and to a requirement for solid dollars and cents data from the applicants.
The Fields' logic was based on the need for a longer driveway, the cost of a cistern that they believed the Fire Department would require, and an assertion that either alternative plan would result in devaluation of their existing house. The commissioners were skeptical on all three counts, and in addition cited an assessment from the DEP that found that the footprint for the house was too large for the site, that the driveway would involve too much impervious surface, and that the plan in general "does not meet Wetland Protection Act performance standards."
At a continued public hearing on July 27, the applicants presented a list of "hard costs" including a $117,000 figure for the cistern, and a Fire Department requirement to widen the alternate driveway. Simultaneously Stamski and McNary engineer George Dimakarakos showed that he had reduced the footprint, "slipped the garage into the house box" and reduced the area of impervious surface. Presiding Vice Chairman Peter Burn asked if the footprint could be further diminished by specifying four bedrooms instead of five, but the engineer did not feel it would be worth the effort
Commissioner Tom Schultz observed that the landscaping would be critical in such a tight, sensitive location. Member John Lee seconded the concern stressing that, "This means landscaping with no amenities." Member Kelly Stringham, who had been studying both DEP regulations and the cost analysis said she found the expense factor to be relevant to the case.
The public hearing was closed and Willard was instructed to draft an Order of Conditions that would reference the cost figures, supply a landscape management plan and include a statement that the text of the order should be rolled over into any later Certificate of Compliance, to assure that future buyuers would understand their legal responsibilities. The approval document will be finalized at the next meeting.
© 2006 The