The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 16, 2008

ConsCom weighs duties to protect land and water in Fiske Street plan

The public hearing continued at the May 8 meeting of the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) for John Ballantine’s proposal to construct a second single family house on his ten-acre parcel at 268 Fiske Street. Discussion centered on the complexities of a site where the entire project area is in a wetland buffer zone yet all but one of the ten acres are protected with conservation restrictions (CRs). Conservation Commissions have two distinct responsibilities that apply: to minimize development impact on wetlands and water resources (under the state Wetlands Protection Act and the Carlisle Wetlands Bylaw) and to generally protect the natural resources of their communities (under the Conservation Commission Act). The latter charge includes their land protection mandate.

Selectman Alan Carpenito cited the large investment the town has made to preserve the Cranberry Bog and the nearby Wang Coombs land. He emphasized the importance of the vista from the Cranberry Bog and the negative effect a house placed on the Ballantine’s peninsula would have on the rural look of the community. He predicted that if a house is built, the town is going to ask: “How did that happen?” He also asked if Community Preservation Act money could be used to purchase the land. Chair Peter Burn noted that the emphasis of this hearing must be on the wetlands and buying the land requires a separate discussion.

Fiske Street resident Phil Dumka indicated that placing the house closer to Fiske Street would be preferable and asked whether the CRs could be altered to move the building envelope. Wayne Davis of the Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee indicated that it is the practice of both the state and the town to make CRs as firm as possible and that the town has become stricter and stricter over the past decade. Creating the present CRs took considerable time. He pointed out that the Ballantines had agreed to house placement, footprint and height restrictions in order to preserve aesthetics, but that this may not be a perfect solution.

A number of commissioners and audience members noted that when the CRs were before the commission for input, not enough attention was paid to the proximity of wetlands or the vista from the bog. As Burn put it: “The information was there but not the focus.” He emphasized that the Carlisle Wetland Bylaw could and should be amended to limit construction on environmentally sensitive sites such as this.

The hearing was continued until May 22 at 8:30 p.m., when the applicant and the commission agreed it will be closed. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito