Friday, August 24, 2007
Conservation Commission okays Mark property restoration plan
The Conservation Commission has accepted an official Restoration Plan drawn up by Wetland Scientist Lisa Standley of Vanasse Hangen Bristlin Inc., at the behest of homeowner Ted Mark. The plan was prepared in response to a May 27 Enforcement Order that identified four violations of the terms of the commission's November 2005 approval for construction on his lot at the corner of Concord Street and Bingham Road. That document had contained a detailed Order of Conditions that was supposed to have governed all subsequent work at the site.
The infractions of both ConsCom's instructions and the Wetland Protection Act, which included 160 feet of unauthorized stone wall and associated intrusion into the wetland itself, were first cited in a prior Enforcement Order issued in November 2006. That move had resulted in protracted, and ultimately unsuccessful, negotiations between a Mark team of consultants and the commission. Finally losing patience, the board drafted the stronger second Enforcement Order, and the property owner turned to a new team of consultants for what has turned out to be a more fruitful effort.
The Standley plan was presented to the commission on July 12 and officially accepted August 9. Following assurances from Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard that the wetland boundaries shown in the engineering specifications were essentially accurate and that proper measures had been taken to protect the nearby wetland during reconstruction, the commission gave the go-ahead for work to begin.
The plan as approved calls for removal of the 160 feet of unapproved stone wall. The portion of the remaining wall that had intruded into the wetland itself will be moved back and the disturbed area restored to the appropriate elevation and hydrology. An ad hoc drainage trench can be retained but will be backed up by a gently sloped, 12-foot-wide grass swale running parallel to Concord Street and designed to carry overflow at a low velocity toward the wetland. The remediation plan was accepted as presented and the wetland scientist was thanked for "an excellent plan."
Taking advantage of the positive atmosphere, Standley turned to a proposal for changes in specifications for the garage and driveway, asking that they be accepted as modifications to the original 2005 Notice of Intent (NOI). The request met with immediate opposition from Commissioner Roy Watson, who declared that he would not have approved the proposed changes in the original NOI, and was not inclined to do so now. His major concern was a perceived increase in the impervious surface in a highly sensitive lot. Mark's attorney Roy Cramer agreed that although the changes called for enlargement of the garage from 1,152 square feet to 1,344 square feet and the addition of a 16- by 46-foot paved parking apron, the changes would not increase the overall impermeable surface as Watson feared. He argued that, whereas the original plan called for a paved driveway from Concord Street, while the new one specified a gravel drive from Bingham Road, the final result was to reduce the impervious surface.
There followed an indecisive discussion as to whether or not a heavily used gravel driveway should, or should not, be counted as a pervious area. Speaking somewhat hesitantly, Commissioner Tricia Smith then brought up what she identified as the proverbial "elephant in the room," namely the use to which the enlarged facilities might be devoted. Noting that the ConsCom office had received more than one inquiry from persons concerned that vehicle repair might be a contemplated use of the building, she indicated that this possibility was disturbing to the commission. Cramer immediately responded that, "Mr. Mark has no intention whatsoever to do any commercial repair...that would require Zoning Board approval.... Mr. Mark would repair only his own vehicles, perhaps including an antique car."
Since the hour was late and there were still important issues to be pursued, issues that in any case, could not be resolved legally with an Amended Notice of Intent, Chairman Peter Burn advised the Mark team to return in September with a request to amend the original Order of Conditions to permit the desired modifications.
© 2007 The