Farmer’s Market Presents Preliminary Plan

The Rochester Planning Board on May 23 held an informal meeting to review the preliminary specs of a new farmer’s market coming to Rochester.

Engineer Bill Madden, representing Greg Canning, gave the board a general sense of the proposal slated for the 60-acre property on Marion Road situated on the west side of Marion Road in front of the Great Bear cranberry bogs and across from The Pines.

A four-acre area of the property is planned for development, which is situated outside the 100-foot buffer zone of nearby wetlands, according to Madden, but the Conservation Commission will still review the project. The wetlands have been flagged, Madden said.

Madden requested a waiver for stormwater management, saying that Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulations would not apply; rather, the project would be better suited for a “country drainage” approach.

Natural depressions on the property would pond water and allow it to recharge into the ground, and the surrounding areas of the site would be crops.

“I think that the country drainage in this setting, which is really a fairly unique [one] … would work really well,” Madden said. “None of the runoff will leave this site.”

The roof runoff will be handled the same, with the water being directed and discharged out into the surrounding fields.

“The fields will be agricultural fields … so they’ll afford a different surface texture than your standard golf course,” said Madden. “It will find its way back into the ground.”

“What you’re saying makes sense,” said Chairman Arnie Johnson, “but we’ll let [the Town’s independent engineer Ken Motta] take a pass at it and see what he says.”

The board will refrain from granting the stormwater waiver until Motta has a chance to review the project.

The board set an escrow amount at $3,000 and an application fee for a Site Plan of $300 plus advertising.

Once the application is submitted, Johnson said the board would need about a week to review the project plus two weeks for advertising, so the public hearing would likely be scheduled for July 11, unless deadlines can be met in time for the June 27 meeting.

In other matters, the board met with representatives from Melink, developers of a solar farm on Snipatuit Road. Motta then gave the board his report on what he saw the last time he went to the site, reporting that some aspects of the project have not been done according to the plan.

Motta spotted areas of the access drive where pervious materials used for the road varied at different locations – reclaimed gravel, crushed concrete – a “mishmash” of inconsistent materials causing puddles and tire ruts. Some areas of grass seed still have not germinated, either.

The board reprimanded Melink representatives present that night, with board member Gary Florindo saying, “To me, this isn’t the first field that you’ve done, so you guys know what you got to get done…. Go over there and make it work.” He continued, “If you’ve done what you’re supposed to, then it should show.”

The board scheduled a site visit for June 3 to inspect the germination of the grass, and said the board still needed an as-built plan now that the trees have been planted.

The public hearing for Wellspring Farms of 42 Hiller Road was again continued until the next meeting at the request of the applicant.

Johnson said Borrego Solar has filed its Site Plan Review application and the public hearing should be scheduled for 27. The solar farm would be built at the corner of Rounseville Road and Mendell Road.

The board also voted to send a letter to Meadowatt, LLC after some deviations from the plan. The Route 105 solar farm is already online and generating energy, but some aspects of the maintenance and landscaping plan have not been followed, specifically including the creation of a wildflower field and some shoddy mulching around the site.

Planning Board member Ben Bailey said he finds Meadowatt’s work to be “blatantly disrespectful,” adding, “They’re treating us as though we’re ignorant.”

“We can in theory reopen the hearing, revoke his permit, and shut him down,” Johnson said. He added that it was “disgusting over there.”

Bailey made the motion, and town counsel was authorized to send a letter stating Meadowatt’s violations and giving the developer 10 working days to remedy the matter; otherwise, the board will reopen the public hearing.

The board welcomed new part-time Town Planner Steve Starrett, who will officially begin June 1 – just in time for the new solar farm project, said Johnson.

The next meeting of the Rochester Planning Board is scheduled for June 13 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Planning Board

By Jean Perry


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