Friday, October 5, 2007
ConsCom resolves year-long Bingham Road dispute
The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) closed out negotiations on one contentious project only to undertake resolution of another at the September 27 meeting. A substantial part of the agenda was devoted to a Notice of Intent (NOI) filed by Ronald and Eileen Nardone in response to a ConsCom Enforcement Order that had halted unauthorized work at their South Street residence.
Shortly thereafter, ConsCom followed up on their August 9 acceptance of a hard-fought Wetland Restoration Plan drafted by consultants for Theodore Mark, and granted the applicant's request to amend his 2005 Order of Conditions and make alterations in plans for completion of construction on his lot at the corner of Concord Street and Bingham Road.
Mark garage approved
Wetland scientist Lisa Standley was the consultant who, along with attorney Roy Cramer, had crafted the plan that resolved a year-long impasse between Mark and the commission over remediation for the homeowner's admitted violations of the project specifications as originally approved. The enforcement problem out of the way, she turned to Mark's request for changes in the original Order of Conditions. The amended filing would allow for a four-foot extension of the garage footprint, installation of a dry well to catch runoff from the roof and addition of a concrete parking apron. Construction of an approved gravel driveway from Bingham Road to the garage would replace the original paved access from Concord Street to complete the package.
Standley reported that all remedial actions required under the Restoration Plan had been completed with the exception of a grassy swale in the front portion of the lot, which could not be developed until the garage and all its associated construction had been accomplished.
The only disagreement between the scientist and the commission concerned her assertion that the proposed changes in plan actually represented a total of 1,540 square feet less of impervious surface than the original, because the gravel driveway offered a pervious topping, and the paved original did not. Chairman Peter Burn pointed out that a well-used gravel surface is probably not very permeable, but is preferable to the alternative, and the other members agreed to avoid further dissension.
As a final vote of approval was recorded, all parties to the dispute quite audibly heaved a sigh of relief. The commissioners declared themselves "comfortable with what has been proposed," and Cramer responded, "We're also happy with this outcome."
Nardone order finessed
The commission was denied a break from enforcement actions as Eileen Nardone of 259 South Street presented an NOI to replace an expired approval document dated 2002. The new filing followed receipt of an August 23 Enforcement Order halting on-going landscaping that deviated from the original Order of Conditions that accompanied the expired NOI.
Burn explained to the applicant that, indeed, a new NOI is required when changes are desired to an expired document. However, in this case, the work as originally conditioned had already gone beyond what that original had allowed and the question had now become, "Would we have approved the changes, if we had been asked?"
Nardone protested, to no avail, that she had replaced all the old haybales in order to protect the wetland, before the work got underway. Whereupon Willard noted that the new barriers were located further out, thus extending the lawn area toward the wetland, and Commissioner Tom Schultz added, "The problem is that the work you have done so far is not just in the wetland buffer zone, it is practically in the resource area itself."
When Nardone told the commission that she had already contacted the contractor for the loam and seed, and that there was no time to get the wetland scientists and engineers to reflag the wetland, reschedule the contractor and install the lawn before it was too late in the season, the commissioners relented somewhat. They would allow her to bring in the loam and seed it as scheduled, but she must leave a ten-foot space between the questionable haybale line and the end of the new lawn. That space must then be sown with a naturalizing seed, using fast-growing native species, to stabilize the area until spring. At that time, she can get the line accurately reflagged, bring in the new NOI and discuss a final solution.
Nardone called the commission's attention to one extraneous item in her application, namely a desire to enclose a portion of her lot with a fence, to contain and protect her dog . Noting that most fencing of that type can be considered exempt from Wetland Protection Act requirements, but that the meeting was already running late, she was asked to grant a continuance and return on October 11.
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