Friday, February 2, 2007
Agreement reached on wetland boundaries for Chestnut Estates
With Planning Board approval pending, representatives of the John Raymond Brown Trust have passed the first hurdle in the Conservation Commission's acceptance process for the proposed Chestnut Estates Conservation Cluster. The commission issued an Order of Resource Area Determination (ORAD), a vote that confirms agreement on the wetland boundaries that will determine their areas of jurisdiction on the Rutland Street site.
Six units on 25 acres
The ORAD for the 25-acre, six-unit project was based on field calculations and plans submitted by Engineer Peter Howe of Fay, Spotsford and Thorndike and Maureen Hanley of Norse Environmental Services. Peer consultant Dr. John Rockwood also tramped the property, reviewed their maps and conclusions, and made recommendations to the applicant, which were included in the documentation.
The preliminary maps shown at the January 25 meeting indicate that almost 30% of the parcel consists of wetlands, with about 50% considered buildable. The commission's findings, as listed in the ORAD, assume that the applicant will have all "ponding areas" within the wetlands and their 100-foot buffer zones evaluated by a "qualified wetland scientist" to determine whether they are eligible for certification as vernal pools (breeding areas for invertebrate animals such as salamanders and frogs). This type of research has to take place during the spring breeding season, and if the results are positive, may add to their level of protection.
Following the unanimous vote to issue the ORAD, Howe requested time to present a preliminary project plan. He said that the development team had worked for over a year with the Planning Board and abutters to assure as low an impact as possible on the natural environment. Commission members indicated that they were aware of the hard negotiations that had taken place, but cautioned that they will probably have some further suggestions as to how to decrease disturbance within the buffer zones.
Features of the infrastructure
Howe described the features of the proposed infrastructure that would have the greatest impact on commission interests. The developers are planning a common driveway to serve three lots on one side of the wetland and end in a cul-de-sac. That segment will require widening of the old access road and construction of a wetland crossing. A second common driveway will branch off the main access route to serve three lots on the other side of the wetland and will necessitate a second wetland crossing, with a 50 to 60-foot span.
Recognizing the commission's inevitable concern with drainage facilities, Howe gave the specifications for a state-of-the-art system that will involve a series of one-foot vegetated swales, topped by a grass shoulder and designed to direct runoff back into recharge areas. As a bonus, this system will reduce the need to remove large numbers of trees.
Eight acres of conservation land
If the developers receive the Planning Board variances, which they need to qualify for a Conservation Cluster, the town will gain about eight acres of conservation land and trail easements. The property abuts the town's 27-acre Mannis Land, borders on the ancient Rangeway cart path and includes an informal network of woodland paths. Howe says his people have walked the trails with the Carlisle Trails Committee which wants to build a modest crossing on one of them.
Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard informed Howe that the Carlisle Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee wishes to meet with his people to assure that the boundaries between private land and town easements are clearly marked. The aim is simple: they hope to avoid future legal tangles over conservation restriction violations.
Chestnut Estates engineers will return with a formal Notice of Intent to build, once Planning Board approval is in hand and project specifications are more complete.
© 2007 The