The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wetlands, wildlife habitat dominate ConsCom Benfield 40B discussions

At its January 14 meeting the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) continued the public hearing under the state Wetlands Protection Act for the proposed Benfield Farms 40B at 273 South Street.

Review of work in connection with proposed creation of 26 affordable housing units on the front portion of the property was intertwined with a request for extension of the time the approved wetlands boundary on that parcel remains valid. Mark Beaudry, a civil engineer from Meridian Associates, represented Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) on both matters.

Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard had met with Beaudry subsequent to the first segment of the hearing on December 17 to discuss the issues identified in the commission’s review of the proposed project. Revisions to the filing that are likely needed include the acreage for the property, amount of filing fees required, name of the landowner (which should be the Town of Carlisle), and location of the wetland replication area. A description of the public water supply proposed on the conservation parcel and a wildlife habitat study are needed.

Since the December 17 meeting input had also been received from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) (see “Wildlife protection delays Benfield 40B,” Mosquito, January 15).

Commissioner Tom Brownrigg, Willard, Beaudry and others had met with NHESP representatives who indicated that the project as designed will disturb too much of the upland forest habitat of the Blue Spotted Salamander. The 800 feet needed around the vernal pool to keep the population viable extends almost to the proposed building. The Natural Heritage habitat polygon reaches nearly to South Street. Beaudry thinks some modification of the location of parking and other design elements can resolve this. The hearing was continued to February 11 at 8:30 p.m.

In a separate but related matter, Beaudry asked the ConsCom to extend the time that the wetlands boundary on Parcel A is deemed to be correct for an additional three years. Under the Wetlands Protection Act regulations an applicant can request review and approval of resource area boundaries prior to filing a permit request for a construction project. The ConsCom had issued an Order of Resource Area Delineation (ORAD) for Parcel A in 2006. The wetlands had been flagged three years earlier by Metrowest Engineering.

Beaudry said the wetlands boundaries are unlikely to have changed and hoped the ConsCom would extend the ORAD at least until the permit is in place for the housing project. The ORAD expires January 29. Commissioners responded that many of the wetlands flags are now gone. It is therefore unclear where the boundary was originally located in the field and difficult to assess whether it has changed. Metrowest is asking for $5,000 to provide copies of their plans showing the 2003 wetlands lines. Commissioner Tricia Smith emphasized that the wetlands need to be reflagged. Delineations are also needed for the riverfront area along Spencer Brook. Discussion of the boundary was continued until January 28 at 8:45 p.m. ∆


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