Planning Board approves tree cuttings at Eversource LNG facility

139

The Planning Board discussed Eversource’s improvement project at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at 52 Wilson Street for the majority of Monday’s hour-long meeting.

The main issue was the request for additional tree cuttings at the southern border of the site in the vicinity of a new flare stack, which was unanimously approved. A flare stack is a gas combustion device used in industrial plants such as gas refineries and chemical plants for the safe removal of gaseous waste. There initially was a 50-foot radius, but Eversource requested that it be doubled to 100 feet.

“It’s really for fire safety,” explained Tracy Adamski on behalf of the applicant. “Eversource wants to make sure that this is a safe environment, so they’ve identified a 100-foot radius in which to remove trees.”

Several of the 55 trees planned for removal are dead or diseased, she noted, making them more prone to catch fire. The larger trees, which are between 60 and 80 feet tall, will be cut so that the stumps remain to prevent soil disturbance. The exception is for trees with a 4-inch diameter radius, which will be removed by hand.

Phil Paradis of BETA Group, the town’s engineering consultant, said that less than a quarter of an acre of land would be disturbed by the tree removal. There was less of a concern of erosion because there wouldn’t be exposure of subsoil. Any runoff will go to into the woods to the southwest.

“I don’t think this is a huge lift regarding stormwater management,” he said.

Once the new flare is installed and working, said Jim Blackburn, Eversource’s project manager, the two flares across the street would have very limited use “or potentially eventually eliminated.” They would only be in use for “a handful of days,” he added.

The new flare is only about 40 feet tall compared with the older ones that are between 90 and 100 feet in height, Blackburn added. The radius of the trees to be removed was determined by the heat flux of the flare to the trunk of the tree.

An issue with the trees is that some of the branches hang near the flare, so it makes more sense to remove the trees during the construction period, particularly those that are dead or diseased.

“Congratulations for thinking ahead for preventing maintenance by ensuring the thought process of the potential danger that could exist,” said new Planning Board member Ron Priefer, who was sworn in last week.

After some discussion, the board determined that the tree removal was insignificant to the stormwater management proposal. Native noninvasive shrubs were requested to replace the diseased and dead trees to prevent erosion and help with water absorption. Blackburn agreed to the request for a minimum of 20 shrubs to be planted in the area of the proposed cutting.

In addition, the board unanimously approved an extension of the stormwater management permit, which will expire in January. Most of the site work should be completed by the end of this year, but this extension would allow for an additional year due to the weather as well as for planting in the spring.

This request also is going before the Conservation Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

Fox Hollow bond release reduction approved

Most of the work on Fox Hollow, an open space land preservation development (OSLPD) subdivision off of Pond Street, has been completed, Principal Planner John Gelcich noted. At this stage, he said that the applicant, Eric Dias, would like to turn over ownership of the road on the property to the town.

Before this can transpire, BETA Group, the town’s engineering consultant, needs to identify any additional work that needs to be completed, Gelcich explained.

“It may make sense to hold on to $5,000 to $10,000 of the bond until the road is actually accepted by the town in case something comes up,” he said, “and then fully release the bond once the road is accepted.”

The current amount of the bond is $134,094, Dias said. He was agreeable to withholding $5,000 of the bond.

“We can have that [work] wrapped up within a week of getting guys to the site,” he added.

The board voted to reduce the bond to a total of $5,000 contingent upon the assessment from BETA.

Turkey Ridge Estates hearing continued

The hearing for the Turkey Ridge Estates eight-lot subdivision off of Lincoln Street and the Cedar Street extension was continued until the next meeting on Nov. 15 at the applicant’s request. The decision date was rescheduled to Nov. 23. The plan previously was designated an OSLPD.

Two new members appointed to ZAC

The Planning Board unanimously approved James Burton and Nisha Nanaware-Kharade as alternate members of the Zoning Advisory Committee (ZAC).

Mannan volunteers to serve on CPC

Planning Board chair Gary Trendel announced his decision to resign from the Community Preservation Committee, where he has served for the past two years. He recommended member Shahidul Mannan to serve as his replacement, and Mannan accepted.

“The CPC I think is an interesting committee,” Trendel said. “They have the ability to support a lot of different investments within the community, from affordable housing to various historic properties and features.”

Some CPC projects Trendel mentioned include the restoration of the HCA farmhouse, EMC Park and headstone restoration.