Friday, May 30, 2008
Shorts from the ConsCom, May 22
The Cranberry Bog Conservation Land was the focus of three separate items on the Conservation Commission’s agenda. These occupied most of the evening.
• Restorative Justice. The Commission held a closed-door executive session relative to the April 11 incident at the Cranberry Bog (See “Police detain teens at Bog drinking party,” Mosquito, April 18). The session was titled “Restorative Justice.” The large number of people in attendance appeared to include the teens and their parents. The session lasted for about 45 minutes. The outcome was not publicly reported.
• Bog House well testing. Warren Lyman and Debby Geltner of the Land Stewardship Committee met with the Commission regarding testing the well water used by the tenants in the two rental apartments in the Bog house. Lyman said, “This testing is long overdue.” All agreed, due to the shallowness of the well, its proximity to the working bog where 11 different pesticides have been used in recent years, and the fact that machinery and associated fuel are stored on the lower level of the building. The Commission approved a range of tests and to expend $250 to cover half the cost, the other half being provided by the Board of Health.
• Westford Street: Hanover Hill permit approved. The Commission unanimously approved a permit for the 35-lot subdivision where the proposed work includes construction of a roadway and three common driveways with associated grading and drainage systems.
• 24 Bingham Road: COC denied. Wetland scientist Lisa Standley of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin appeared with homeowner Theodore Mark seeking a Certificate of Compliance (COC) for a house and driveway This document is meant to indicate that a project was built substantially according to the plan and the terms of the Commission’s permit. A COC is required to clear the property deed. As Standley indicated, without it “the house is not saleable.”
As described by Standley, the project as built deviated considerably from the approved plan. The garage was placed under the house and to the side rather than being “a front-loading” garage on the main level facing the road. This resulted in a much more expansive driveway, with some construction only five feet from the adjacent wetland.
Commissioner Tricia Smith said that the Commission cannot just let people build whatever they want, then expect the Commission to give a COC. After discussing its options, which included asking the applicant to bring the project into conformity with the approved plan, the Commission refused to issue the COC. When the Commission denies a COC, there is no appeal to DEP under the state Wetlands Protection Act. The Commission tells the applicant in writing what must be done to bring the project into compliance.
This parcel is not to be confused with Mark’s property on the corner of Bingham Road and Concord Street that was the subject of an earlier negotiation with ConsCom (see “ConsCom examines restoration plan for Mark property on Bingham Road,” Mosquito, July 7, 2007.)
• Rutland Street. Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard indicated that applicant Betsy Goldenberg had contacted her about removal of a small stand of Phragmites australis (Common Reed) in the drainage system of Great Brook Path. This subdivision road is part of a project previously permitted by the Commission. Phragmites is a tall wetland grass that can rapidly spread through seeds and underground rhizomes (stems). A variety introduced into the United States is highly invasive and has become widespread. An outstanding question is whether the stand in question is the invasive form and should be removed or a much less common native non-invasive variety. Willard will pursue this determination. Chair Peter Burn indicated there is a good web site that explains how to tell the forms apart: www.invasiveplants.net/Phragmites/natint.htm. ∆
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