Conservation Commission pleased with water mitigation improvements at Pulte development

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The Conservation Commission met Tuesday night and reviewed several ongoing projects and a new proposal.

The commission first discussed the mitigation efforts recently performed at a Pulte Homes development at Legacy Farms North, after the company was requested by the commission to prevent sedimentation from going into the water system of Hopkinton and neighboring Ashland. Photos were shown comparing the site between July 13 and July 27, and there was a marked improvement.

“It looks a heck of a lot better than it did a couple of weeks ago, so we appreciate that,” Chair Jeff Barnes said.

The commission voted 8-0 to lift the cease and desist order preventing construction until the situation was rectified. Conservation agent Kim Ciaramicoli and environmental agent Matt Varrell both inspected the site and agreed that substantial efforts have been made.

Ciaramicoli added a friendly amendment that would allow the commission to reserve the option to reopen the case or open a new one as it evaluates the adequacy of the erosion plan and construction work.

Several fines were levied in March totaling $6,900, half of which were held in abeyance. However, a project representative and commission members didn’t agree on the amounts to be assessed. Barnes said new fines were more than $10,000. The project representative, John Engdahl, believed that the amount should be $4,800. Member Melissa Recos explained that fines were issued on three separate violations for a number of days. The fines also were issued because reports were not submitted on time.

Barnes also requested an independent assessment of the land that was impacted. He suggested that Engdahl contact Western Nurseries, which was impacted by the sediment, although it is not within the commission’s jurisdiction. Engdahl said he would reach out to New England Environmental Design for the evaluation.

The amounts will be reviewed and presented at the next meeting on Aug. 10.

Connelly Farms introduces new NOI

The commission reviewed a new Notice of Intent for a nine-lot open space subdivision off Hayden Rowe Street — just north of College Street — by Scott Goddard, representing Ravenwood LLC and developer Ron Nation. The project, called Connelly Farms, has been before the Planning Board a few times already.

The lots would be accessed by a cul-de-sac off Hayden Rowe Street. The project is near Beaver Brook, with a riverfront area bordering the project.

Goddard said that the project is “almost entirely out of the buffer zone,” with some minimal yard space in the 50- to 100-foot buffer zone. A stormwater mitigation system would be placed near the brook.

Member Ted Barker-Hook asked how much of the meadow of the front of the property would be lost during construction, noting the scarcity of meadows in the town. Goddard said that about one-third would be impacted, but introduced the concept of a wet meadow, which he said was “even more rare.”

The hearing was continued until Aug. 10.

Eversource seeks OK for LNG facility work

The commission reviewed a request from Eversource for an access road to be paved at its LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility at 52 Wilson St. It was presented before the Planning Board the previous evening and is awaiting a review from BETA Group, the town’s engineering consultant.

The main circular road proposed is 24 feet wide and approximately 875 linear feet. Paving it would provide better access to the rear of the site. The road currently is gravel and dirt, and the proposal calls for it to be paved with bituminous concrete.

A 15-foot secondary access road off this road also was requested by the Hopkinton Fire Department to allow another point of entry to the site at the back for emergency access. There is a small, isolated wetland at the side of the road.

Varrell commented that the project already is in “highly disturbed gravel areas.” Because of the pavement leading to stormwater runoff, he suggested planting vegetation and possible permanent immovable barriers (PIBs).

Member Ed Harrow asked if permeable pavement could be used. However, because of the long-term maintenance required and the poor quality of the soil there, it would not be feasible. The surface would have to be weight-bearing for the HFD equipment.

Resident Katie Towner expressed concerns over the flow of water that currently occurs from the site into Wilson Street and into Indian Brook. There currently is no stormwater management system on the site.

Barnes said that once the BETA report is received, her concerns could be better addressed. She countered that it is an area of critical concern that is impacted by chemical runoff.

It will be reviewed again on Aug. 10.

Laborers’ Training facility gets OK for Crane Building

George Connors, representing the New England Laborers’ Training Academy, requested a continuance to Aug. 10 for the Conti Building proposal as well as the proposed pond dredging and the restoration plan. He did go forward with the Crane Building plans, which were approved 7-0 with a few conditions. The project is located at 37 East St.

Connors said that the project would have a positive environmental impact because pavement would be converted into a habitat area of close to 40,000 square feet.

Barnes asked that the Crane Building be moved farther away from the riverfront area or that its footprint be decreased.

The location was chosen to shield nearby residents from the noise that will be made by backhoes and cranes by students. A previous proposal had called for two structures but was consolidated into this building. There is a leaching field behind the building.

Varrell suggested that the parking near the riverfront be moved to the edge of the access road at the side of the building.

Conditions were placed to move parking spaces outside of the riverfront area. The area where the spaces were proposed will be a wildflower mix. The stormwater basins will be 1 foot above construction during the project, and a soil analysis will be performed.

Blueberry Lane expansion gets approval

The NOI for the Abbot Realty Trust project off Blueberry Lane was approved 7-0 for a multi-lot subdivision after several meetings. Significant stormwater mitigation efforts will be put in place that will benefit the current residents.

“I just want to thank the applicant to stepping up to meet the town’s stormwater management standards,” Barnes said. Four of the lots will be under conservation restriction.