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Conservation Commission approves proposed addition to Whitehall Brook Trail

by | Jan 10, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Conservation Commission at its meeting Tuesday night approved a request for an extension to the Whitehall Brook Trail at 66 Fruit Street that would allow for observation of beaver activity.

Chuck Dauchy appeared before the Conservation Commission as both the trail steward for the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT) and as a Trails Committee representative. He requested that the commission grant authorization for the proposed hiking trail.

He explained that it would follow along the wetland edge. The Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) would co-hold the conservation restriction with HALT.

“It provides a fairly close-up view of a trail lodge that is along the brook,” he said. “The trail borders a longstanding beaver pond there.”

Chair Jeff Barnes called the proposed route “a good addition.” He asked about the utilization of the trails in that area, which is near Pratt Farm. Dauchy noted that the larger route trail, to which this proposed extension would connect, “gets fairly heavy use.” The Trails Committee hopes to increase public knowledge about area trails to spur further usage.

Barnes added that there is money in the commission’s budget that could be used for the installation of educational signs. They could highlight the wetland resource areas there. Dauchy noted that HALT, SVT, the Trails Committee and the Open Space Preservation Commission all likely would be amenable to the signage.

No vote was required because it was an exemption request, he added.

Commission continues hearing on Historical Society building

Commission members generally approved of drainage improvements to the Hopkinton Historical Society building, located at 168 Hayden Rowe Street. But the commission voted 6-0 to continue the hearing on the project until Jan. 23 to allow the applicant to submit an invasive species management plan.

Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli explained that a failed footing drain currently has two pumps that convey water to a manhole connection to Hayden Rowe. This proposal would replace the entire footing drain and add gutters to the building. This would allow half of the drainage to be diverted to the back of the property, where the buffer zone borders vegetated wetlands.

There would be temporary disturbance of the 50-foot buffer zone to allow for construction equipment to work, she added, as well as 400 square feet of disturbance within the 50-to-100-foot buffer zone. Restoration work will be performed after the construction is completed. The buffer zone currently is populated with invasive species, and Ciaramicoli pointed out that the the Historical Society’s budget will prevent aggressive invasive species management.

Dan McIntyre from the Historical Society explained that the excavation would be done in a “piecemeal” manner due to advice received by contractors bidding on the construction project. Historical Society members are willing to do some invasive control management once construction is complete.

He added that the work is dependent upon a vote at Annual Town Meeting because Community Preservation Committee funds will be used for the project. Works is tentatively planned to commence this summer pending approval.

Peer review consultant Joe Orzell from Lucas Environmental pointed out that invasives can be buried onsite provided that they are placed at least 6 feet deep to prevent them from regrowing. Member Matthew Moyen said an invasive species management plan should be submitted to indicate where the invasives will be buried and to what depth in the soil. It will be reviewed at the next meeting.

ANRADs approved for multiple projects

The commission approved 6-0 an abbreviated notice of resource area delineation (ANRAD) for Legacy Farms at a lot on East Main Street, noting that a site review requested last month was performed.

Roy MacDowell explained that the property under consideration was one of several leaching fields purchased from the sewer treatment plant. The effluent drainage from Legacy Farms drains water to several locations, this being the furthest away from the development.

“The water coming to these systems are basically to the level of drinking water quality,” he added.

The commission additionally approved 6-0 an ANRAD at Hayden Rowe Street and McDermott Lane requested by the town. A future determination may be made as to whether the stream there can be reconsidered as an intermittent stream. Barnes noted that it currently is considered a perennial stream.

Also approved unanimously was an ANRAD for 0 Chestnut Street.

Maspenock Woods Condos hearing continued

The commission did not issue a certificate of compliance for Maspenock Woods Condos at West Elm Street, noting that hoods need to be installed at the catch basins. These were on the original design plans but have not yet been installed. A report noted that “hoods were missing in all inspected catch basins.”

Another issue vice chair Melissa Recos pointed out is that the silt fence still needs to be removed.

The commission previously requested an invasive species management plan and the annual stormwater report, which were received. Ciaramicoli noted that recommendations were made to the annual maintenance report, which included the mowing of side slopes and removal of brush and trees there. Vegetation and brush also need to be removed from the spillway. Recommendations also were recommended on the invasive species management plan. One round of invasive species control has been completed to date.

The issuance of the certificate of compliance will be considered at the next meeting.

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