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Conservation Commission fines The Trails, Pulte Homes for stormwater violations

by | Aug 11, 2021 | Featured: News, News

At Tuesday’s meeting the Conservation Commission made headway on several ongoing proposals, which were either approved or are near the approval stage. Fines were assessed on two projects for failure to comply with stormwater mitigation procedures.

The Trails at Legacy Farms ordered to pay

The commission addressed the issuance of fines for a series of violations at The Trails, Hopkinton, a 55-and-over housing development located off Legacy Farms North Road. Cease and desist orders previously were issued by the commission as well as the town’s building department after sediment ran into the Hopkinton Reservoir, impacting the town of Ashland as well as Hopkinton.

There has been a history of violations on the site dating back to 2018. Fines had been held in abeyance but have been reconsidered in light of the current situation.

“First of all, I just want to say that you know it’s been a challenge at the site with the violations,” said Conservation Commission Chair Jeff Barnes. “In the past few weeks, your team has made significant strides in kind of tightening things up there and getting the appropriate mitigation and erosion controls in place.”

However, that did not excuse the violations as well as the impact on the water supply. The amount of the violations for July alone totaled $22,800. Including the April violation, the total rose to $26,700. In addition, there were fines of $16,400 incurred because of delinquent filing of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) reports.

Conservation agent Kim Ciaramicoli noted that $6,000 in fines had been held in abeyance from 2018.

Barnes proposed enforcing the violation fines while holding the amount of the SWPPP fines in abeyance.

Member Jim Ciriello contended that he observed further runoff as late as last week, which he described as “a significant amount of silt at the water treatment plant.”

Ciaramicoli said that the site is now “95 percent stable.” There are temporary detention basins that are containing sediment. Barnes noted that this was residual sediment from before that drained into the reservoir.

Member Ed Harrow said he was “very appalled” after visiting the site.

Added Ted Barker-Hook: “I’ve learned through my years on the commission that the point of holding fines in abeyance is that the commission then has leverage to say, ‘Listen, we have your money ready to claim. You better not let things get out of hand again.’ ” However, he said that he didn’t think this strategy has been effective with this project, as violations have continued to occur with no repercussions.

Members agreed with Barker-Hook’s perception, calling for the $26,700 and the $16,400 fines to be enforced. This was approved 4-0. The lack of the SWPPP reports not being filed on time led to the site not being properly monitored, causing the damage to result.

Ciaramicoli said that she did not feel comfortable with the removal of the commission’s cease and desist order until the remediation work is completed.

Project engineer Peter Bemis requested that the fine monies be used for infrastructure improvements that he identified off-site, a proposal that was approved by the directors of the Department of Public Works in both Hopkinton and Ashland.

Barnes replied that he was amenable to that idea, calling it “a noble gesture.” He wanted to get the approval of other stakeholders first.

Added Barnes: “We want the site buttoned up.”

Fines assessed on Pulte Homes development

Fines were assessed on the Pulte Homes development at Legacy Farms North: $10,200 for the most recent stormwater mitigation violation and $6,900 for the violation in March. The fines for the delinquent SWPPP reports totaled $19,600 but were held in abeyance because the project representative, John Engdahl, said a representative was told they did not need to be filed.

Barnes asked if progress had been made on the downgradient assessment. Engdahl said he hoped to get the consultant in the field later this week.

Engdahl added that he had not yet reached out to Western Nurseries, which was impacted by sediment, because he had not received the downgradient assessment.

An enforcement order was approved 5-0 to memorialize the process.

The next meeting will be held on Aug. 24.

Connelly Farms subdivision discussed

Scott Goddard, representing Ravenwood LLC and developer Ron Nation, told the members of the Planning Board’s approval of the Connelly Farms subdivision project off Hayden Rowe Street near the intersection with College Street the previous evening. There were a couple of remaining items for the board to consider before the final stamped plans are submitted.

The review of the stormwater basins is complete, according to land surveyor Joe Marquedant.

Environmental agent Matt Varrell said there was “an apparent violation on the site.” Equipment traveled through the wetland, presumably to do soil testing. He also believed that the stormwater basins could be moved away from the riverfront area.

Goddard agreed that damage did occur during soil testing and “will get taken care of.”

Another concern was that the project be done in phases, so that all of the land is clear cut at the same time. Goddard was agreeable to this request.

A wet meadow also was proposed for the project on the Hayden Rowe Street side. Varrell said that it would become a forested swamp if there no plans are put in place to maintain it.

The hearing was continued until Aug. 24.

NOI approved for Eversource LNG plant

The commission approved a notice of intent (NOI) after it reviewed proposed stormwater mitigations efforts by Eversource at its liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at 52 Wilson St., a discussion that was continued from the previous meeting. An access road is proposed on the site.

Tracy Adamsky represented the applicant, noting that the details about erosion control have been updated. There will be a conservation seed mix and buffer near the proposed access road near the wetlands. Native plantings also are proposed for the area.

During the site visit, runoff was found to be coming from the Tennessee Gas property, not the Eversource site. This concern was raised by a resident at the previous meeting.

Laborers’ Training updates OK’d

George Connors presented updates to the NOI for the Conti Building at the New England Laborers’ Training Center on East Street, and they were approved 5-0. There is a proposed addition and patio area comprised of pervious pavers on the side of the dormitory, which will have rooms changed from double occupancy to single occupancy.

All of the buried oil tanks in the area are going to be removed, he added, because the energy source will be changed to a propane system. NOIs will be filed at a future date because all of them are within 100 feet of the wetland.

“I think I’m OK with approving this because of the minimal nature of the work proposed for this portion of the project,” Barnes said.

The pond dredging and restoration plan hearings on the project were continued until the next meeting.

Any work done on the site needs to be permitted, Barnes reminded Connors after learning from Varrell that some shrubbery already had been removed.

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