The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 20, 2007


ConsCom examines restoration plan for Mark property on Bingham Road

Substantial progress has been made toward resolution of the months-long standoff between homeowner Theodore Mark and the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) regarding unauthorized construction in and near wetlands on his lot at the corner of Concord Street and Bingham Road. The promising rapprochement was hammered out in spite of the commission's inability to conduct official business at their July 12 meeting, due to lack of a quorum. This situation occurred following the June 30 resignation of veteran commissioner John Lee, a scheduled European vacation, a medical disability, and to cap it off, a case of over-demanding kids (of the hoofed variety).

The only critical agenda item was presentation of a Restoration Plan drawn up in answer to a May 29 ConsCom Enforcement Order (EO), delivered to Mark and his new team of consultants that now includes Wellesley attorney Roy Cramer and wetland scientist Lisa Standley from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. of Watertown. Although the meeting could not be legally opened, the three attending commissioners and Cramer agreed that informal discussion of the printed Restoration Plan with accompanying maps should proceed.

Restoration plan

meets most requirements

The proposed plan covers specific actions required of the applicant under the terms of the EO to correct four major violations of the commission's original Order of Conditions as specified in their 2005 project approval. The present document calls for removal of an unauthorized retaining wall and associated fill that extends 160 feet beyond the original Limit of Work and intrudes into the wetland itself. The offending boulders and soil will be stored temporarily in an upland area in an adjacent Mark lot.

Addressing the EO requirement that the area of unauthorized grading in the northeast corner of the site be re-graded to its original contours, loamed, seeded and planted, and the wetland boundary clearly demarcated, the plan complied. A third EO requirement called for restoration of that portion of the Bordering Vegetated Wetland (BVW) altered through construction of the wall. That part of the structure and associated fill will be moved back out of the BVW and the resulting rock terminus tapered to meet the new contour. Once the BVW has been re-graded to the original elevation and hydrology, it will be planted with appropriate wetland species.

In answer to the EO's demand for remediation of unauthorized grading and other construction deviations in front of the existing residence, including re-engineering of a riprap drainage trench, Standley reported that engineering tests indicated the existing trench can handle a two-year or ten-year storm event, but not a 100-year deluge. Therefore the applicant can retain the riprap structure and add a requested grass swale, approximately 12 feet wide with a two percent grade running parallel to Concord Street and conveying any overflow at low velocity to the wetland. The team will also provide an Inspection and Maintenance Plan for the trench system to assure continued function.

Enlarged garage

still a sticking point

When Standley added that roof runoff from an enlarged garage will be directed to one of three proposed dry-wells, Chairman Peter Burn informed the parties that, though absent, Commissioner Tricia Smith had indicated general agreement with the plan via e-mail, but had noted that the enlarged footprint for the garage and apron, plus the dry wells, should receive careful consideration. Commissioner Roy Watson had already stated his opposition to any increase in impervious surface, particularly that caused by an enlarged footprint for the garage and its apron, saying, "It's not just the size: it's the use to which it could be put."

Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard asked about the safety of stockpiling materials in the adjacent buffer zone, but Standley assured her, "The contractor will be held totally responsible." Not totally convinced, Willard cautioned, "You had better warn him to watch the weather reports So much of that work is so close to the wetland, it's scary." She also expressed a wish to have proof of the accuracy of the restored wetland boundaries.

Limited work to start

Since both the applicant and the commissioners were eager to see the project get under way as soon as possible, they sought a process to allow mutually acceptable work to commence. Standley offered to have a wetland scientist on hand to do periodic testing of hydric (wetland) soils as the wall is being removed. The parties can then proceed as follows:

• Willard will check the siltation barriers and other protective measures.

• If she is satisfied, she will talk with the absent commissioners.

• If they agree to allow the removal of the wall to proceed, an "unofficial written communication" will be sent to the applicant okaying a start on all construction with the exception of the garage, driveway and dry wells.

• Those remaining issues will be decided at the next ConsCom meeting on August 9.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito