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Conservation Commission questions developer’s analysis of North Mill Street property

by | Feb 11, 2024 | Featured: News, News


The Conservation Commission at its Feb. 6 meeting questioned why an area of resource delineation request by Wall Street Development for 12 North Mill Street did not document the presence of an intermittent stream channel.

Nicole Hayes of Goddard Consulting represented the applicant for the abbreviated notice of resource area delineation (ANRAD) hearing, which was continued. She explained that she conducted a recent site visit with a peer review consultant, and some of the wetland flags were changed.

The purpose of an ANRAD is to confirm environmental resources on the site, Hayes explained. She identified bordering vegetated wetlands, an intermittent stream channel bank and two vernal pools, one of which is mostly offsite. This process was completed in an effort to identify developable land, a process that got the attention of neighbors concerned about potential development.

Chair Jeff Barnes chastised Hayes, saying that her first attempt at flagging the property were “way off.”

“I was a little dismayed when I first looked at it,” he said, “because Nicole has 28 years of experience flagging wetlands.”

Responded Hayes: “It’s all subjective. It’s all based on percentages of coverage, and everybody’s percentages are different.”

Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli read a letter into the record signed by several abutters concerned about “what appears to be a renewed attempt to develop the property.” It pointed out potential disruption to the flora and fauna and noted previously denied attempts to develop the site in the past. Flooding and erosion observed at other construction sites under the purview of the Conservation Commission also was described in the letter.

Ciaramicoli said a potential intermittent stream was not delineated on the plan at the site border. Hayes explained that it originated offsite. If a notice of intent is filed for the property, Hayes said, “We can revisit the potential intermittent stream channel.”

Barnes pushed Hayes as to why it wasn’t marked on the plan and if she walked the site. Other commissioners agreed that it should have been marked.

“I want to make sure the resources on the property are delineated properly,” stressed Barnes. “The point of an area resource delineation is identifying the resources on the site — not later.”

Resident Bruce Holmgren commented that the intermittent stream in question “is not so intermittent,” flowing up to nine months per year.

Chamberlain/Whalen subdivision fines held in abeyance

The commission continued its discussion on whether to levy fines against Toll Brothers for violations observed at the Chamberlain/Whalen subdivision. Barnes said Toll Brothers has been responsive in addressing the violations quickly. The development has been impacted by recent heavy precipitation events.

“I think Toll Brothers has been a good steward,” he said.

Ciaramicoli said turbid discharge had been observed on Jan. 10. In total, there were five violations noted. The fines totaled $3,300.

She added that her goal is compliance rather than punitive action.

Barnes requested that the fines “be held in abeyance for now.” He noted their proposed stormwater upgrade work at their Elmwood development.

Member Janine LeBlanc stressed that all developers should be focused on prevention “so we don’t get to this place where there’s a violation.”

Ted Merchant, the applicant’s representative, noted that consultant LEC was working with him on mitigation strategies. Its recent focus was between Lots 27 and 28, which was fortified with straw and wood chips. He also asked for an individual excavation plan for Lot 4 to prevent materials from going downstream.

The commission voted unanimously to issue and hold the fines in abeyance.

Laborers Training seeks to make drainage improvements

The request from the Mass Laborers Training Trust mainly focused on the Coia Building at the center of the site located at 37 Main Street. Ryan Roseen from Goddard Consulting, who represented the applicant, explained that the building is located near the pond on the property.

The proposed project seeks to make improvements to the building entrance, the parking area and the drainage system. Several parking spaces are being removed to reconfigure the building entrance. Most of the work proposed is outside of the buffer zone.

Wetlands consultant Joe Orzell said that because of the project’s proximity to a riverfront area, a notice of intent should be filed. Ciaramicoli agreed.

Barnes added that a new resource area delineation needs to be completed because the old one has expired.

The applicant withdrew the proposal without prejudice.


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