Whoever replaces Laurell Farinon as Rochester’s conservation agent is going to hit the ground running after the mitigation plan proposed by A.D. Makepeace at the Morse Swamp Reservoir was continued to July 20.
“There’s a lot of moving parts on this one,” Farinon told the Rochester Conservation Commission during its June 1 meeting, shortly before ConCom voted to request $11,500 to hire peer-review consultant LEC Environmental.
The Wareham-based cranberry company filed a Notice of Intent in response to an Enforcement Order issued by ConCom on December 16, 2020, for restoration and replication of wetland resource areas at the Morse Swamp Reservoir at 0 County Road.
Brad Holmes of A.D. Makepeace and Bill Madden of G.A.F Engineering appeared before the commission on June 1, and Madden summarized the state of conditions as agricultural uses including a water supply reservoir for cranberry operations, uplands and wetlands, and affecting areas including a bank, land subject to flooding, and land under water.
He presented A.D. Makepeace’s mitigation proposal in five drawings, explaining that A.D. Makepeace believed it was engaged in an exempt activity when dredging and cleaning the water supply at the site.
“In the process of conducting those exempt activities, they stubbed their toe a little bit on the way and they did a couple of things that were really outside the scope of any exemption,” said Madden, referring to the casting of dredge spoils onto a bordering vegetated wetland, depositiing mineral soils on bordering land subject to flooding, and altering an inland bank.
Madden said most of the mitigation will consist of removing material cast upon those areas and bank repair.
“I think it’s important to note that it was an exempt activity that they were undertaking that led to the alterations of resources areas that didn’t enjoy the same level of exemption,” he said. “What remains to figure out is what do we actually do with the rest of the project?”
When asked for comment by new ConCom Chairman Chris Gerrior, Farinon took issue with Madden’s assertion that the activities at the site were exempt and suggested it would make most sense to put the island back where it was. She recommended that ConCom prioritize the peer review.
Mark Manganello of LEC Environmental attended the meeting and said the peer-review billing would come in two phases at $6,500 and $5,000.
The site is in an Eversource right of way, so Madden said there is a limitation on what can be replaced. The piles of gravel on the site would be removed from the site. Hand labor will be required for a thorough completion of the removals.
Holmes said the plan will include a step-by-step narrative that, once an Order of Conditions is issued, would help move the project forward.
Vice Chairman Dan Gagne recused himself from participation as a commissioner.
A public hearing was held for an NOI filed by Middleboro-based DBT Investments for proposed grading and landscaping associated with construction of the single-family home at 22 High Street. The proposed work would occur within 100 feet of a bordering vegetated wetland and bordering land subject to flooding. Debris within the 25-foot no-disturb zone would be removed.
The plan is to raze an existing structure on the half-acre property and replace it with a new, three-bedroom house including a Title 5 septic system and a new well. Farinon asked about the well on the site and the ditch that has been dug in an eastern direction toward the buffer zone to the wetlands. Beau McMahon, the applicant, stated that the mudding was run through a mudder to prevent runoff and understands it to be outside the buffer zone.
Challenging the survey information in the proposal, abutter Kimberly Ashley of Old Tuck Cranberry Corporation told the commission that she will be disputing the survey and pointed to the deeds from 1884 and 1902.
Ashley asserted that Old Tuck owns up to the 100-year flood mark that borders the project and that the dewatering pit on the site plan would sit on Old Tuck property. Ashley also said the 3:1 slope proposed will push fill onto Old Tuck property.
The case was continued to July 6.
ConCom voted to request an amended Order of Conditions for the paving of applicant Nick Araujo’s driveway at 67 Old School House Road. Picking up on an old filing, Stevie Carvalho of Farland Corporation appeared on Araujo’s behalf seeking feedback under the category of request for Determination of Non-Significance.
As explained by Farinon, an existing permit allowed for Araujo to improve what she considers a somewhat “dense” and “partially impervious” driveway, which measures over 500 feet long and between 10 and 12 feet wide and construct it within 100 feet of a bordering vegetated wetland.
The original filing included improvement to the driveway, but so much time had passed that a replication area had to be cut away from the roadway. After discussion, the current plan to pave the driveway was considered to be of significance to the membership, and a unanimous vote requested an amended Order of Conditions. That will necessarily include a new public hearing with a notification of abutters and new documentation needing signatures recorded at the Registry of Deeds.
In a continued NOI public hearing, Eric Las of Beals & Thomas Inc. updated ConCom on the perimeter road project by Snipatuit Road Solar, LLC. Las outlined proposed installation of portions of 4.6-megawatt solar array within the 100-foot buffer zone to a bordering vegetated wetland, discussed the plan to widen the access road and upgrade an 18-inch metal culvert to an 11.5-foot wide stream restoration featuring a timber-span bridge crossing.
“What a pleasure it is to see a very thorough, presentation…. What a pleasure it is to see somebody do their job really well,” said Farinon, noting that Las “presented the whole project and not just the parts they want you to pay attention to.”
Gagne also recused himself from the Snipatuit Road Solar, LLC, which was continued to ConCom’s July 6 meeting.
Bendrix Bailey, applicant in a NOI filing for construction of a 700-foot long, 20-foot wide, recycled-asphalt roadway to access a single-family house lot at 0 Gerrish Road, asked for and got a continuance to Tuesday, June 15.
In other business, on May 24, ConCom conducted three interviews to fill the job of conservation agent soon to be vacated by Farinon and recommended two of the applicants to the Board of Selectmen for further interview.
ConCom is looking for two new members, as Gagne pointed out that five members currently serve on a seven-member commission. Town Counsel Blair Bailey said the quorum will remain four, but the number of members in attendance can play a role on applications and projects passing if ConCom cannot act. “We’re losing a lot of institutional memory,” he said, alluding to Farinon’s impending departure.
The next meeting of the Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, June 15, at 7:00 pm.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Mick Colageo