The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 8, 2006


ConsCom orders work halted on Mark property

When the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) approves a construction project and issues an Order of Conditions establishing the rules to be followed as the plan is implemented, it is expected that those instructions will be respected. Failure to fulfill that expectation can get the applicant in considerable trouble, as Concord Street resident Theodore Mark has discovered.

Concerned that Mark's project on the corner of Bingham Road appeared to have deviated from plans okayed in 2005, Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard contacted the owner, informed him that she needed to make an inspection and, accompanied by him, verified the existence of discrepancies. Later, in consultation with ConsCom Chairman Roy Watson, she was asked to issue an Enforcement Order to halt outside work on the property, and request Mark's appearance at the commission's November 30 meeting.

Changes proposed

The homeowner was represented at that session by David Ross Associates' Engineer Sean Hale and Attorney Alex Parra, who had filed an Amended Notice of Intent (NOI).

Hale led off with a description of the changes that had been made in the original NOI, which had included a five-bedroom house, garage, septic system, driveway, well and 100-foot retaining wall. He listed five deviations from the original plan, the majority of which he said had resulted when the proposed location of the well had changed to avoid extensive ledge. The site chosen was adjacent to the wetland and required 180 square feet of fill to be dumped into and around a portion of the wetland as protection from freezing. This in turn made it necessary to extend the retaining wall to prevent siltation into the resource area.

When it was discovered that water was collecting in another area near the road, two rip rap (stone lined) drainage swales were installed. In addition, the amended NOI called for an enlarged garage, a paved driveway and a second gravel entrance, all of which required increased fill. Finally, an agreed-upon pile of rocks had grown substantially.

Wetland fill a concern

Commissioner Tricia Smith zeroed in on the 180 square feet of fill in and near the wetland. "Where did it come from? " she asked. "Did it come from a contractor?" Watson made it more specific, "Was it clean fill?" Hale pleaded ignorance. Willard interjected that she had received a phone call from Mark some time ago saying that the contractor had used fill he believed was incompatible with the Order of Conditions, and that he had ordered it removed.

Finding a way forward

At that juncture Parra took over, saying that his client was looking for a way forward and was willing to do whatever the commission felt was necessary. The fill could be removed and the retaining wall shortened. "We want to know what is needed to bring him into compliance," he told them. Repeating that he was deeply concerned about the source of the fill, Watson called for a site walk, and Smith requested a list of the contractors who had worked on the site.

All agreed that the first order of business was to make sure the site is "buttoned up for the winter." The commissioners would make a site visit to assess the long-and-short-range damage and meet with Mark's team on December 14 to talk about compliance issues and decide where to go from there. Hale added a note of caution, asking that any plan of compliance avoid causing further damage to the resource area.

As for the matter of possible future penalties, which had been raised briefly by Smith, Parra suggested, and the commissioners appeared to concur, that the issue should be left to the end of the process. It could then be directly related to Mark's diligence in complying with the commission's requests. The hearing was continued to 7:30 p.m. on December 14.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito