Friday, June 15, 2007
ConsCom orders wetland restoration on Bingham Road property
Following months of unsuccessful negotiation, the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) has delivered a second Enforcement Order to homeowner Theodore Mark. The first order, issued last November, had halted all work at his lot on the corner of Concord Street and Bingham Road, cited numerous departures from the original construction plan approved by the commission in the year 2005, and ordered him to appear to discuss remediation.
In January of 2007 Mark responded by filing an amended Notice of Intent (NOI) that offered some remediation but enlarged the scope of the overall project beyond the original NOI. That amended proposal was denied "without prejudice" on March 22, thus leaving the applicant free to file a more acceptable notice in the future, but not until the most serious violations listed in the first order had been corrected.
The second Enforcement Order, dated May 29, again listed the original infractions, but this time around mandated specific corrective measures that the recipient must complete within a set timeframe. Failure to comply can result iin substantial fines under either the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act or the Carlisle Wetland Protection Bylaw.
Unauthorized structures targeted
The new order requires Mark to present an official Restoration Plan to deal with each of four major violations cited by the commission. The first violation involved construction of an unauthorized portion of a retaining wall and associated backfill grading that extended approximately 160 feet past the "limit-of-work" specified in the 2005 Order of Conditions. Mark's Restoration Plan must provide for removal of said wall and fill beyond a numbered wetland flag location, while recognizing and allowing for its present role in protection of a pipe line from the existing well to the house. In addition the proposal must describe removal procedures in detail and include scheduling, stockpiling of materials and erosion controls. In order to assure close supervision of the work, the commission is requiring weekly progress reports, stamped by a registered professional engineer.
The second major complaint targets grading beyond the limit of work in another area, in this instance to allow for creation of a desired, but unauthorized, lawn at the northeasterly corner of the lot. Here, the proposed remediation must provide for a return to the original land contours and encourage re-naturalization by planting appropriate shrubs and saplings as recommended and signed off by a qualified wetland scientist.
The third misstep, a clear violation of the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act's prohibition against alteration of a Bordering Vegetated Wetland (BVW), occurred when a portion of the aforesaid retaining wall and associated fill "encroached upon at least 165 square feet of the BVW" itself. Hence, Mark's restoration proposal must also address removal of that portion of the wall and fill that is located in the resource area. In addition to the construction procedures mandated previously, it must also confirm the extent of hydric soils (those that help delineate a wetland) before specifying any new wall footings. A planting plan is to be developed, again by a qualified wetland scientist, to facilitate restoration of the altered resource area.
Ad hoc drainage system nixed
Mark's fourth infraction is described as "unpermitted site stripping and filling in the southeasterly portion of the site," near what the owner has proposed as the future location of a garage, plus installation of an unauthorized riprap (rock-lined ) trench, piping and precast concrete basin, all within the 100-foot buffer zone of a BVW. In this case the commission has given the homeowner two choices. He can have the riprap trench re-engineered by a certified professional engineer and add a water quality swale - also properly engineered - to carry excess storm water runoff to the wetland, or he can restore the front yard to its original condition prior to the issuance of the 2005 Order of Conditions.
To assure that the resulting approvable plan is followed this time around, not only by the owner but also by the contractors and consultants, the Enforcement Order continues as follows:
1. Copies of the document, "shall be stored on site in a waterproof envelope, continuously accessible on site."
2. The Restoration Plan must include dates when each phase is to start and conclude, and the name and contact information of the persons contracted to manage/perform the work.
3. As each step in the restoration is completed, the disturbed area addressed by that undertaking shall be loamed and seeded, and restoration of the BVW itself shall be accomplished consistent with the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act.
4. The registered professional engineers and qualified wetland scientists required to provide all plans and reports shall be paid for at the applicant's expense.
At the commission's June 7 meeting, Mark's new wetland scientist Lisa Standley of Boston Survey Consultants made a brief visit seeking clarification of a few points and promising delivery of the Restoration Plan within approximately two weeks. She noted that it appeared the team might need to preserve about 50 feet of the retaining wall, in order to protect the well pipes from freezing, and pointed out that removal of the huge stones would require heavy equipment that might cause serious disturbance.
Questioning the need to use the wall as a protection measure, Commissioner Tricia Smith noted that qualified engineering advice would be required for a problem of that magnitude. "Don't rely on advice from contractors," she warned. Smith also called for "fine-tuned engineering specifications," following a suggestion from Standley that the wall could be left in place and 300 to 400 square feet of wetland replication area be developed in the rear to replace what had been altered. Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard interjected a word of caution, noting that the state Department of Environmental Protection would rather see wetland restoration than an attempt at replication.
© 2007 The