ConCom roundup: Ash Street developer called out for vegetation disturbance

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At its meeting Tuesday night, the Conservation Commission heard one case regarding unauthorized vegetation disturbance at a single-family home construction site at 178 Ash Street.

In 2018, the commission approved the project, which is situated in a buffer zone on a 5,830-square-foot lot. An extension had been granted this summer, according to Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli. She said that recently some vegetation had been removed at the site without a pre-construction meeting being held.

“The builder on the site didn’t have a plan that matched Conservation’s plans of record,” she explained, noting that the erosion control methods were different.

“I keep thinking of a way to prevent this from happening,” noted member Jim Ciriello. “We issue conditions. We have approved plans. And yet, when somebody goes out to build, and it’s a second or a third party, and then [they] haven’t used the right plans.”

Jamie Bissonnette of Zenith Consulting Engineers spoke on behalf of the applicant, Vision Construction & Design, which asked to amend an existing notice of conditions. He said that the project’s original plan was done by an engineer who quit the day the excavator went to the site.

“He never coordinated with the Conservation Commission,” he said. “He had a contract with me saying that he was, and I had no idea he wasn’t.”

Bissonnette also noted that the square footage of the roof has been reduced from 2,340 to 1,526 square feet, which would help the roof drain system.

The hearing was continued until the next meeting on Nov. 30 to allow the applicant to provide a restoration plan with greater detail of the vegetation that would be planted.

HALT requests pedestrian footbridge

As part of the open public forum, Chuck Dauchy of the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT) spoke about a proposal to install a pedestrian footbridge at the Mary Pratt South Trail on the Fruit Street property. It would be slightly upstream from where the commission approved a footbridge a couple of months ago.

“This one is a little more complicated … because it also spans a little wet area that is on the opposite side of the stream channel,” he said. “It’s really a combination of bridge and boardwalk.”

The 24-foot-long bridge will link an old road and trail to with the Mary Pratt South Trail to provide “an alternative loop” for walkers.

“Chuck has been an outstanding guy,” said Conservation Commission Member Ed Harrow. “He has been incredibly helpful to open space.”

Commission to continue to meet remotely

Chair Jeff Barnes asked committee members if they would be in favor of meeting remotely for the next couple of months due to winter weather and continued concerns over COVID-19. He said that feedback he received from consultants steered him away from suggesting a hybrid meeting.

“It would be too complicated with reviewing plans and trying to manage a meeting in a hybrid scenario,” he explained. “I think that would just be too much of a challenge.”

Member Janine LeBlanc said that she thought the commission could continue to meet remotely for the next couple of months.

“If it works remotely, we might as well continue to be safe,” she said.

Member Ted Barker-Hook noted concerns about the coronavirus still linger. He referenced an article in The New York Times that described “a fifth wave” of the virus spreading in Europe.

Barker-Hook added that when the meetings do return indoors, there should be a larger table for commission members, as well as seating for the public spaced farther apart.

Harrow dissented, saying that he would rather see people and plans in person. The Open Space Committee does meet in a hybrid committee, and said “it works very well.”

The commission members ultimately decided to revisit the issue in February.

Multiple cases continued

The Notice of Intent (NOI) requests by the Massachusetts Laborers Training Facility at 37 East Street for pond dredging and its restoration plan were continued until Dec. 14. Neither the applicant not a representative was present at the meeting.

Several ongoing hearings were continued at the request of the applicants before the meeting. They included the Connelly Farms eight-lot subdivision project, located off Hayden Rowe Street near the intersection with College Street, which will be heard at the next meeting on Nov. 30. Also continued was a project at 188-190 Fruit Street, which was continued until Jan. 25.

Also continued was an NOI for a boat lift at 34 Downey Street, as well as an NOI for a septic tank replacement and garage at 22 Winter Street. The 103 Wood Street hearing was continued for a second time. These cases will be held on Nov. 30.

The Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation hearing for 188-190 Fruit Street was continued until Jan. 25. Lucas Environmental consultant Matt Varrell said that there is one area that needs to be flagged. Because of potential snow at that time of year, it may have to be reviewed in the spring.

Varrell retires from Lucas Engineering

Varrell was thanked for his service by commission members. He announced two weeks ago that this would be his last meeting before his retirement, but he said he would attend the meeting on Nov. 30 because of the continuances.

Taking his place is Joe Orzel, who is a certified wetlands scientist. Orzel has been an environmental consultant for about 27 years and has worked for Lucas for more than three years.

“I’m happy to be here before the commission, and I hope to be helpful to you in the future,” Orzel said.

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