Bio-Fuel Condition Rescinded

            Rochester’s Conservation Commission Tuesday revised the Order of Conditions that it approved two weeks ago for BWC Snows Pond LLC’s plan to build a 2.39-megawatt, solar-energy array on 12.55 acres of a 31.23-acre parcel at 0 Cushman Road.

            The commission removed from the project’s Order of Conditions the requirement that the contractor use only biodegradable hydraulic oils for the construction equipment there after input from commissioner and professional excavator William Milka.

            Milka advised ConCom members that these types of engine oils, while less likely to harm wetlands, are more expensive and less effective as lubricants. “It hurts a contractor’s budget,” Milka said. “The requirement will knock every small, local contractor out of the running.”

            He said there was every reason to believe other means such as containment buoys could be used if these oils spill too close to wetlands or a waterway. These lubricants could cost up to $10,000 more for the equipment, not counting the cost of added maintenance. “And they don’t lubricate as well,” he said.

            At the commission’s February 6 meeting, BWC Snows Pond LLC had asked that the bio-fuel requirement not be made a project condition because the petitioner “could not commit that the selected contractor will be able to supply installation equipment that is compatible…”

            Commission member Ben Bailey had said placing this condition on town projects happens all the time, and, in fact, the Planning Board will likely place the use of bio-fuels in its own conditions for the project.

            On Tuesday, Milka’s input convinced Conservation Commission Chairman Christopher Gerrior otherwise. He reasoned that it would be better instead to make a spill-containment plan a precondition of any Order of Conditions. “It should be brought up at the preconstruction meeting.” The resultant vote to delete the requirement was unanimous.

            In other action, the commission approved a Certificate of Compliance for work “satisfactorily completed” at 169 Clapp Road, the construction of an in-ground pool, surrounding masonry and a pool cabana.

            Upon the petitioner’s request, the commission continued its hearing into the Notice of Intent filed by JPF Development LLC to build a 15-acre, self-storage facility at 25 Cranberry Highway and 0 Kings Highway until March 5.

            The commission reviewed with town Herring Inspector Dave Watling its February 10 site visit of the herring run area from Hartley Farm Pond to the start of the Rochester Boat Race and the Mattapoisett River. Concom’s conclusion is that because a “mat of vegetation” might soon impede the herring run there, the bypass canal near the start of the boat race at the Hartley Reservoir needs to be opened up.

            Milka noted the pond-herring population has gone down from 125,000 in previous years to 3,000 this year. Watling advised the commission that such work should only begin between mid to late summer. The board agreed to first consult state Division of Fish and Wildlife representative Jason Zimmer and seek the use of a grant to get the work done.

            Conservation Agent Merilee Kelly reported the Buzzards Bay Coalition will conduct its annual monitoring visit of the conservation area at Red Brick Farm East on March 7 at 10:00 am. ConCom members said they will try to attend.

            The Rochester Conservation Commission will meet next on Tuesday, March 5, at 7:00 pm at Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Michael J. DeCicco

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