A group of Rochester residents, through their attorney Ben O’Grady, are seeking the assistance of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), a division of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The reason for the request: the apparent resurrection of plans for a bituminous concrete manufacturing facility on five acres off Kings Highway that recently saw the light of day after years in litigation.
Attorney Stephen Meltzer and environmental scientist Briscoe Lang went before the Rochester Conservation Commission on March 6, representing the project owner Gerry Lorruso of Edgewood Development Company. Taking the lead in the discussion, Meltzer gave a brief history of the project that predates not only his involvement with the company, but also predates appointments of several Conservation Commission members.
Meltzer said a Notice of Intent filed in 2010 underwent thorough review by various town boards, including the Conservation Commission – a process taking many months. The project was conditioned. However, that decision was later appealed, as were several other decisions that sent the project to land court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
The final decision upheld the permits.
Meltzer is seeking an extension to previously granted conditions so that the project might finally begin.
But Attorney O’Grady asked the commissioners to consider that he is seeking to have the project oversight moved to MEPA. He said, “Our concerns are that site conditions have changed, the commission’s conditions are seven years old, [and] the board members have changed.”
O’Grady said, given that the development group is seeking to build an industrial facility in a wooded area close to wetlands, another review cycle was warranted.
Lang rose, saying, “The wetlands are manmade. They are the same; they have not changed – the wetland lines have not changed, nor has the project or the bylaws.” He said he would welcome the commission to a site visit to address any questions the commissioners might have and to give the newer members an opportunity to review the file.
O’Grady also presented the group with a letter from a wetland scientist, but ConCom Chairman Daniel Gagne said they needed time to digest the newly submitted letter. He also asked Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon to provide any and all documents for their review and to advise the commissioners on the impact their decision will have on MEPA involvement.
MEPA conducts reviews of the environmental impact of projects that require one or more state agency actions including soliciting public opinion, coordination of project review with proponents, consultants, and citizens, and makes recommendations to the secretary on the adequacy of environmental documentation.
The request was continued until April 17 with an April 14 site visit date scheduled.
In other business, on an unrelated project, Meltzer received a Negative Determination for a Request for Determination of Applicability for construction of a new home located at 157 Forbes Road.
The commissioners also issued a Certificate of Compliance to Derek Maksy for property located at 44 Clear Pond Road.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for March 20 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall meeting room.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell