Conservation Commission Reviews Drought Status

The continued drought in Massachusetts was the main talking point at the Rochester Conservation Commission meeting on Tuesday, September 20.

“The Mattapoisett River did run dry at one point,” said Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon. “It has before in times of severe drought, but we’re monitoring the situation.” Rochester is currently experiencing ‘Extreme Drought’ status, the second-highest level on the scale.

The drought is causing considerable anxiety among local cranberry growers.

“The cranberry growers are anxious,” Farinon explained. “It’s going to be a difficult year for them. We can only hope for more rain this month.”

The committee also briefly touched on the old Rochester Town Pound, which will shortly be a stop on the Rochester Historical Society’s guided tour of historical sites in Rochester. “It needs some maintenance work before the tour,” said commission member Laurene Gerrior.

“I pulled about 200 small evergreens and white pines from inside the pound,” said Rosemary Smith. “There are still some inside the pound and of course in front of it, but my back gave out,” she joked cheerfully. “Anyone who wants to pull trees, feel free!” When Gerrior mentioned flowers she had planted at the pound two years ago, Smith replied, “Well, I didn’t pull anything that looked like a flower, but weeds and flowers look very similar to me!”

The brief meeting was supposed to begin with a public hearing regarding a Notice of Intent at 1 Happy Tails Lane, owned by James and Charlotte Spieldenner. When 7:00 pm came however, there was nobody on the benches. “I don’t see anyone here,” commission member Kevin Cassidy said.

“I heard from the engineer, and his understanding was that the continuation we granted last time was indefinite until he had the chance to speak with the Planning Board,” Conservation Assistant Margaret Gonneville explained. The board voted to make the continuation indefinite.

The only other business items of the day were requests for Certificates of Compliance continuations submitted by Mark and Rachel Letourneau at 23 Foss Farm Lane and Ralph Perry at 99 Wolf Island Road.

The Letourneaus received their original Certificate of Compliance on March 14, 2003, approving the construction of a single-family dwelling, septic system, driveway, pool, and horse barn.

“They’re looking to sell the property now,” Farinon explained, “and would like to extend the certificate.” She pointed out that the property’s driveway and part of a pavilion were built inside the 100-foot buffer zone of wetlands, but that both had been installed before the buffer zone had become a law. The commission unanimously approved the continuance without questions.

Perry’s original Certificate of Compliance was obtained on August 24, 2012. It approved the construction of a three-season enclosed room over the existing deck area with several Sonotube supports to be set within the 100-foot buffer zone.

“I’ve been there,” Farinon said. “I didn’t see any adverse effects on the wetlands, and everything’s neat and in order.” The continuation was also approved unanimously.

The next Rochester Conservation Committee meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on October 4 at the Rochester Town Hall.

By Andrea Ray


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