Friday, December 10, 2010
ConsCom responds to Benfield wetland alteration inquiry
The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) responded on December 2 to a written query from Alan Carpenito of 493 South Street as to whether there were wetlands violations during the year 2003 on the now town-owned Benfield Land off South Street. (See “Conservation Commission shorts, October 28,” November 5.)
ConsCom Administrator Sylvia Willard had extensively researched records and documents for the period in question. She reported that in November 2003 she visited the site in connection with a filing with the ConsCom relative to locating the wetlands boundaries on the parcel prior to acquisition by the town. According to Willard, the only recent activity had been soil testing and her records show “no significant disturbance” was observed in connection with that work. Willard said the Carpenitos, as abutters, had been notified of the public hearing for the delineation and provided written acknowledgement of the notice, but their names do not appear on the sign-in sheet.
In his letter to the ConsCom Carpenito included in his list of violations bringing in crushed stone to fill a mud road that runs partly through wetlands and excavating and moving a “huge boulder” into the wetlands. Because of potential future work on the rear of the property, during that site visit Willard walked the cart path with the ConsCom’s peer reviewer, Dr. John Rockwood of EcoTec. They found the large boulder and condition of the cartpath to be essentially as they are today.
The town was notified that the Benfield land on South Street would be taken out of Forestry Classification MGL Ch. 61) by the end of June 2002. If work as described by Carpenito occurred between then and November 2003, it should have received a permit from the ConsCom. No filing was received.
Ownership of the property changed in April 2004 – following a Town Meeting vote the previous month to acquire the land for affordable housing, recreation and conservation purposes. Willard reported that the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act sets a three year limitation on pursuing violations after a parcel has changed hands. If there was in fact a violation, given that more than three years have passed, the matter cannot be pursued against the town.
Willard pointed out that comparison of photos from aerial surveys by MassDEP shows no unpermitted wetlands fill on South Street. The ConsCom decided to summarize these facts and findings in a letter to Carpenito (who did not attend the meeting). ∆
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