After a rocky introduction and a silent period that led to legal action, the Rochester Conservation Commission affirmed the work done by Michael Oliver to restore his mistakes at 1009 Walnut Plain Road by approving his Notice of Intent during the commission’s remote access, public hearing on Tuesday night.
The Conservation Commission had issued an Enforcement Order in February after Oliver had illegally cut down over 3,000 square feet of vegetation within a pond and 25 foot “no-disturb zone.”
“We had been utilizing counsel because the deadline date on the Enforcement Order had been surpassed,” with no communication, said Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon. “It was unbeknownst to us that (Oliver) had been hospitalized for eight weeks. We’re happy to know he is on the mend and getting stronger.”
Oliver’s representative, Cameron Larson of ECR Environmental Consulting and Restoration, told the commission that ECR in conjunction with Merrill Engineers will complete the restoration. Larson presented photos reflecting that the remaining stumps are already sprouting, and summarized a plan to plant saplings, shrubs, and trees until 75 percent coverage is restored. He also proposed two years of monitoring and reporting to ConCom after full growing seasons for two consecutive years.
Larson stressed that Oliver didn’t realize he was cutting illegally and is fully cooperative with ConCom’s directives.
“Thanks to Mr. Oliver for going forward,” said ConCom member Maggie Payne. “I think it’s always unfortunate when people don’t know the rules and we wind up here. But thanks for that.”
Member Christopher Gerrior told Larson that, “A lot of the business we do is people coming back to us and wanting to remove things other people put there.” Gerrior advised against white pines and suggested red cedars instead.
The commission voted to authorize Farinon to write a cover letter with the decision requesting red cedars. The hearing was closed when Larson popped back on to say he intended to comply with the commission’s wishes, but Chairman Michael Conway reminded him the vote was to approve the Notice of Intent as stated.
A continuance was granted to July 21 to Wareham-based SEMASS Partnership for property located at 141 Cranberry Highway. The applicant proposes the removal of 125 trees to mitigate imminent hazard to approximately 1,500 linear feet of overhead utility lines.
In the public hearing continued from June 16, Paul Shamoian of Raynham-based Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc. represented SEMASS and presented a historical sketch in which 51 trees were cut in March, leaving stumps in place and hundreds more trimmed, most of which are inside the 25-foot “no-touch” wetlands buffer zone.
With seasonal growth threatening the overhead lines once again, ConCom requested in a May hearing that more permanent work be done to address long-term concerns. On July 7, SEMASS submitted a Notice of Intent to remove the remaining 125 trees, leaving their stumps in place. Shamoian said the trees were all pines and nothing native would be removed from the buffer zone. All work would be completed with bucket trucks reaching over the banks and be staged on the pavement outside the buffer zone.
Payne recommended that SEMASS avoids cutting during the April to August nesting season.
Conway expressed frustration with the lack of a maintenance plan after two prior requests and said he did not want to vote until he finally sees it.
Farinon credited SEMASS for work done so far. “As Mr. Shamoian stated, the permit is good for three years,” she said. “This is not a small undertaking. This main access road is the lifeline to their facility… I think that it’s a good proposal; it’s what the Conservation Commission wanted to see.”
A Positive Order of Conditions was issued to Brandon Dion for property located at 13 Bradford Lane with stipulations including a meeting with site review prior to any construction. Dion has proposed a 25-by-26-foot garage with a new eight-foot mudroom, porch, and a new 10-by-15.5 foot extension of an existing wood deck. There is also a CULTEC chamber system to handle roof runoff.
Decas Cranberry Company was issued a Certificate of Compliance for work completed on Old Middleboro Road. Farinon described it as a wetland restoration plan from a few years ago on a 25-acre property with a westerly bordering vegetated wetland and an isolation wetland. “Everything looks in great shape; it’s come in nicely and enhances that area,” she said.
ConCom also voted to accept the order of wetlands-area resource delineation as set forth by Claire Hoogeboom of Plymouth-based LEC Environmental Consultants, Inc. on behalf of William Clapp, 52 Clapp Road.
In a public hearing continued from June 2, a Notice of Intent filed by Dartmouth-based Steen Realty and Development Corp. for properties located at 22 Cranberry Highway was continued per the applicant’s request to July 21 while awaiting a decision from the Planning Board and a site review by Henry Nover.
In a public hearing continued from June 16, a Notice of Intent filed by Hingham-based Hank Ouimet Renewable Energy Development Partners for Eldredge Bogs (property located off Pierce Street) was continued to July 21 in answer to the applicant’s request.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for July 21.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Mick Colageo