The Rochester Conservation Commission issued an Enforcement Order to Jose Araujo, 15 Elizabeth Drive, for unpermitted and unauthorized tree cutting within a 25-foot no disturb zone and a 100-foot buffer zone of the wetlands bank at the site of the former Boy Scout Camp adjacent to Leonard Pond. The commission on February 19 was in no mood to compromise.
Representing Araujo was engineer Rick Charon and wetlands scientist Robert Gray. Before Charon could begin his presentation on behalf of Araujo, Commission Chairman Mike Conway asked, “Can you get a letter that confirms you represent Mr. Araujo?”
Conway would ask the same question of several other engineers during the meeting, a formality he said he intends to institute moving forward.
Charon then presented preliminary engineered drawings of the massive site and began to discuss a restoration plan. But those efforts were truncated when commissioner Daniel Gagne wondered aloud if Charon was going to talk about the Enforcement Order.
The Enforcement Order provided dates for the completion of wetlands replication planning and other restorative measures such as erosion controls, all of which Charon acknowledged had passed without submitting anything to the Conservation Office.
Charon said he had meet with Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon over the weekend, at which time various measures were discussed. But failing to meet the deadlines, as far as the commissioners were concerned, tantamounted to ignoring the order on the part of the property owner.
Charon and Gray tried several times to ask the commission’s assistance in understanding what exactly they wanted in the restoration plan. Conway met those requests with, “Talk to the agent.”
Frustration mounted between Araujo’s representatives and Conway and Gagne, but Charon and Gray were able to garner some direction for the proposed plantings and site plan drawings needed by the commission.
Regarding the issue of fines, Farinon said that town counsel had indicated that the commission could not impose fines without a court order, but that they could issue a ticket for each day the enforcement order had been violated to the tune of $300 per day. The commissioners moved to impose the tickets dating back to January 25. No further action was taken during the meeting.
Another Enforcement Order was discussed late in the meeting when Farinon asked the commission to ratify one issued to Liam Delowery, South Coast Creations, 68 Bowen Lane. She said that the former farm was now the site for Delowery’s business and that heavy vehicles had disturbed jurisdictional areas, while a large pile of manure was leaching into wetlands. The Delowery Enforcement Order requires him to file a Notice of Intent, a restoration plan, and a topological survey by April 1.
Also coming before the commission for review of unpermitted activities was Richard Tabaczynski, representing Mathew Demanche, for property located at 4 Sparrow Lane. Tabaczynski pointed out that although there had been deviation to an Order of Conditions previously granted, Demanche’s request for a Certificate of Conformance was in order. Conway did not agree.
Conway questioned how Tabaczyski’s characterization of “substantial compliance” could have been achieved when the property had a 900 square-foot basketball court and a play area with swing set, which was not part of the original plan of record.
Conway said that clearing and lawn encroachment came within 18 feet in some locations of protected areas. Tabaczynski said that while that was true, other permitted features such as an in-ground swimming pool had not been constructed.
Demanche said that no trees had been cleared from the property in the 20 years he owned the property, but that he wished to work with the commission to resolve problems.
It was determined that Demanche would file a Request for Determination of Applicability, and that the offending play area and swing set would be removed. He will return to the commission on April 16 to discuss the new application.
Earlier in the evening, Bob Rogers of G.A.F. Engineering represented Schoen and Bonnie Morrison, 15 Cranberry Highway, with a Notice of Intent that has seen several continuances. Rogers attempted to convince the commission that his stormwater calculations were on point and therefore the need for another peer review consultant was an unnecessary expense to his clients.
Gagne had submitted a letter listing several inconsistencies he believed put Rogers’ stormwater calculations and stormwater management plans in question. Time and again, Gagne pushed that if he found problems with Rogers’ work, a peer review consultant might find even more oversights. He lobbied for a separate peer review consultant, even though Ken Motta of Field Engineering was the peer review consultant for the Planning Board and had reviewed Rogers’ documents.
Rogers explained that his design included one-third less impervious area then the location’s original 1997 plan of record when it was strictly office spaces. The Morrisons wish to buy the property in question from Decas Real Estate Trust for renovation into a daycare center.
Gagne held fast that, without another engineer’s peer review, something might get overlooked and that Motta wasn’t working exclusively for the commission, but for the Planning Board. He motioned for the hiring of a peer review consultant for the project. It was seconded by Conway, but failed to achieve a majority. The hearing was continued until March 5.
Also continued: a Request for Certificate of Compliance, 15 Cranberry Highway, Decas Real Estate Trust; an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation filed by Steve Long, Borrego Solar Systems, 75 Vaughan Hill Road; Notice of Intent filed by T-Mobile, 98 Bowen Lane; and a Notice of Intent filed by Sofia Darras, 565 Rounseville Road.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for March 5 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell