It was evident on September 5 that Joseph Longo was a bit surprised by the Rochester Conservation Commission’s reaction to his placement of a proposed single-family home off Mendell Road. As he explained, “We did consider other designs, but felt this one reduced the impact of the project.”
The project’s full scope calls for a new residence within the 100-foot buffer zone of a bordering vegetated wetland and a portion of the construction within the 200-foot outer riparian zone of Sherman Brook.
Longo said that the Planning Board had permitted the subdivision of the 11-acre parcel. And while he could have turned it into five lots, he opted to make the lots larger and design the area for a three-lot subdivision.
The application before the commission was for Lot 2, which had received approval from the Board of Health for a septic system and drinking water well with the placement of the home on the southern most corner of the lot some 200 feet off the roadway. The proposed home would include four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a four-car garage, Longo said.
Everything seemed satisfactory until Vice Chairman Daniel Gagne asked if Longo had considered other designs such as placing the structure sideways on the lot with the front door facing the adjacent lot. Longo said they had, but that homeowners didn’t want that type of placement.
Gagne countered that such considerations might further limit the impact on the riparian zone, saying, “We can approve [a project] in the riparian zone, but we don’t have to.” Gagne said that the commission saw a lot of “creep” into resource areas by homeowners and thus wished to control that happening on this project by limiting impact in the beginning.
Chairman Mike Conway asked whose name was on the deed.
In his application, Longo is listed as the property owner of record, a partner of CorGo Enterprises of Rochester, and the applicant’s representative as a partner of JL3 Consulting, Inc., of Centerville. Conway questioned the corporation’s registration with the state saying when he investigated CorGo he couldn’t find them in the registry.
There was a pause before Longo said he would drop off the appropriate documents to the office the following day.
Conway continued that, if CorGo wasn’t a legal entity, the commission couldn’t hear the application.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon said that although the commission had reviewed a number of projects along the riverfront area, the majority had been for work on already disturbed lots. This project was for a newly created lot, which would have to meet a number of new regulations for construction in a riverfront area. She passed out new documents from the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions for the commissioners’ reference.
Farinon said that while she was sure Longo had taken great care in the design and sensitivity towards the resources areas, it needed to be documented in the filing versus simply through verbal acknowledgement that other designs had been considered. She also said that studies from a wetlands scientist were needed to ensure the project would meet performance standards.
Before the application was continued until October 2, giving Longo and his partner Ryan Correia time to provide alternative design options, Correia accessed the Massachusetts Secretary of State website on his phone pointing out the CorGo listing therein. Conway thanked him for that and asked for the hardcopies to be provided as well.
Two other hearings scheduled for this night were continued until September 18. Those hearings were a Notice of Intent filing by REpurpose Properties for land located on Rounseville Road for the construction of a 22-duplex residence, and an abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation filed by Steve Long, Borrego Solar Systems, for property located at 75 Vaughan Hill Road.
Deborah Carr came before the commission with a Notice of Intention to Sell, Right of First Refusal notification for property her family owns off Leonard Pond. She said that the former Boy Scout Camp, lands that her family had allowed the organization to utilize for decades, needed to be sold and, as governed by regulations, was giving the Town the right of first refusal. She said that currently the family holds a purchase and sale agreement valued at $956,000 and wanted to move forward as quickly as possible given that the municipal process had been slow going.
Farinon said that the 24-acre site was “gorgeous,” but thought that the Town would not be willing to buy the property.
“We are not in a position right now to buy this property,” Farinon said.
“I have a responsibility to my family,” Carr said. “If the town can’t buy it, I’ve got to sell it.”
Conway made a motion to advise the selectmen not to exercise the right of first refusal.
However, both Gagne and commissioner Chris Gerrior felt that the price tag shouldn’t hinder the commission from asking the voters to consider the purchase. Gagne said, “We can recommend; the selectmen can decline.” Gagne believed the commission should be the voice for conserving land.
Carr said, “Don’t hold me up: do what you have to do.”
Conway’s motion failed, and a new motion passed asking the selectmen to move forward with an article on the Town Meeting warrant to purchase the land.
In other business, Farinon announced that on Thursday, September 27, at the Rochester Council on Aging, a public forum will be held to discuss the Green Communities State Initiative. There will be two sessions that same day, one held at 3:00 pm and another at 7:00 pm, she said.
Farinon explained that Rochester is considering the program that includes objectives associated with energy conservation and alternative energy sources. She said the town would benefit from substantial cost savings and grant money that would be used by the town for energy reduction programs and projects.
Gagne asked if the initiative would lead Rochester towards having even more solar projects, saying, “I’m concerned this will push more large-scale solar.” Farinon said she didn’t believe that would be the case but might inspire looking at solar projects over capped landfill areas.
On the subject of candidates for an empty seat on the commission, Conway asked if Farinon had received any applicants. She said that one promising candidate had withdrawn his interest. The commission is seeking to fill a seat and an alternate vacancy as well.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 18 at 7:00 pm in the town hall meeting room.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell