ConCom Opens Hearing for 40R Housing

            Engineer Phil Cordeiro and developer Ken Steen on December 17 gave the Rochester Conservation Commission its first introduction to the 208-unit 40R residential and commercial development slated for 22 Cranberry Highway.

            On behalf of Steen Realty & Development Corp., Cordeiro presented the Notice of Intent that includes work proposed entirely within the 100-foot wetlands buffer zone.

            “Clearly, we have a long road ahead of us in the Town of Rochester with the different steps,” said Cordeiro.

            He briefly led the commission through the corners of the site and the areas of the wetlands border that has been flagged and accepted, and focused on where the proposed infrastructure encroaches the 100-foot buffer.

            There are about 86,000 square feet of wetlands on the site, said Cordeiro, and roughly

132,000 square feet of buffer zone area. Cordeiro said he would eventually be asking for the opportunity to grade within approximately 59,000 square feet of that buffer zone.

            No vertical structures, though, are planned for placement within the buffer zone.

            Commission member Kevin Thompson wondered why one enclosed dumpster area could not be moved farther away from the buffer zone to avoid toxic spills contaminating the wetlands, and Conservation Agent later echoed Thompson’s suggestion.

            Cordeiro acknowledged that the Town’s bylaw recognizes buffer zones as equally important as the wetlands resource areas, but asserted that the proposed work would not adversely degrade the wetland system.

            Furthermore, Cordeiro said, the project must file with the Environmental Protection Agency due to the size of its stormwater discharge system and therefore, further oversight will take place on top of the commission’s oversight.

            Chairman Michael Conway asked Cordeiro when the project would be through with the Planning Board permitting process. Cordeiro explained that he and Steen have already held several technical review meetings with the Planning Board chairman and town planner, and the board has already authorized peer-review to begin at the site. However, there is no date yet for a formal appearance before the Planning Board, which he said is due to coordination challenges between the state and the town.

            “So,” said Cordeiro answering Conway’s question, “the short answer is I don’t know. We don’t have a finish line yet; our target is to be in front of [the Planning Board] at their February 13 meeting.” Cordeiro said he thinks the application will be formally submitted to the Planning Board before the end of 2019, saying, “But at this point, it’s just administrative.”

            The commission voted to hire a peer-review consultant, set the fee at $4,500, scheduled a site visit for 9:00 am on January 18, and continued the public hearing until January 21.

            Also during the meeting, engineer Evan Watson on behalf of REpurpose Properties, LLC came before the commission to report on the changes to the plan for an age-restricted residential development proposed for Rounseville Road beside the Plumb Corner Mall.

            According to Watson, the footprint of various units has been decreased in order to increase the setback to the nearby wetlands and away from the 100-foot buffer zone and 25-foot no-touch zone.

            Watson stated that for the application before the Planning Board, he used larger footprints in order to fit in first-floor master bedrooms and decks/porches on some units, but has now changed the plan after seeing how close to the wetlands some of those footprints would bring a number the units.

            Another change entails the implementation of a tree removal schedule for trees slated for felling within the 25-foot no-touch zone and the riverfront area. About 30 tall pines and a few oaks, Watson said, have been flagged for the commission’s inspection during the next site visit.

            “[We’re] putting in an effort to be clear about what we want to do at this particular time and hear what the commission has to say…” said Watson.

            Conway asked Watson if the Planning Board would be requesting any further changes to plan, to which Watson replied, no, except for some possible minor changes to floor plans based on any potential Rochester Historic District Commission comments.

            The project will be a three-phase project, and Watson expects its completion come 2024.

            At the applicant’s request, the hearing was continued until January 21.

            Also during the meeting, the commission refrained from taking a vote on the Town of Rochester’s Request for Determination of Applicability to add dense-grade gravel and re-grade the parking lot and an eroding canoe/boat access path to Leonard’s Pond at the Leonard’s Pond Recreational Area off Mary’s Pond Road. The commission needs further information before it can sign off on the project. The hearing was continued until January 21.

            The public hearing for the Notice of Intent filed by Pedro Rodriguez on behalf of Solar MA Project Management, LLC was continued until January 21 at the request of the applicant.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for January 21 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Jean Perry

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