Houseboat Site Given Go-Ahead

Rochester’s Conservation Commission Tuesday approved and signed the Order of Conditions for previously unpermitted work at 532 Snipatuit Road.

            That work will remove an existing houseboat and dock from the edge of the pond within a wetlands buffer zone, including demolition of an existing house and construct a new, single-family home with associated site work, a new septic system and upgraded gravel-base driveway and stone cover.

            In a previous meeting, the commission noted the plan’s Notice of Intent application was sparked by the board’s Enforcement Order against previous unpermitted, cleanup work there months ago. The applicant’s engineering consultant, Rick Charon, admitted then that there was a variety of wetlands designations on the property, but there was also a variety of measures being planned to address them all.

            Tuesday, Charon acknowledged, “you got our attention with your (Enforcement Order) letter. We needed to excavate there so (applicant Walter P. Faria) can a build house for his daughter.”

            Before motioning for the board to accept the OOC as written, acting Chairman Ben Bailey noted the enforcement letter will be attached to one of the conditions within the order, and Charon said he understood.

            The plan that was specified in a previous ConCom meeting will include removing an old rotting house, replacing an “inadequate” driveway with a new one and at the pond area, building a siltation containment system and containment buoys.

            In other action, the commission agreed to prepare and file a Notice of Intent for its plan to clear the sometimes-clogged, herring-run area from Hartley Farm Pond to the start of the Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race.

            In March, the commission met over a Zoom call with Brad Chase of Massachusetts Marine Fisheries as a follow-up to the commission members’ February 10 site visit of the herring-run area. The commission’s conclusion after that tour was that “mat of vegetation” might soon impede the herring run there.

            Town Herring Inspector David Watling Tuesday described a more recent site visit he and ConCom members conducted with Chase. “We all agreed the work should be done,” Watling said. “The question is how and when.”

            The commissioners agreed that testing the waterway conditions will be the next step before settling on how to fix the problem. Bailey suggested planting measurement sticks in the waterway after the boat race when the water level is rather low to conduct that test.

            “We might find the vegetation is the problem, not the soil beneath it,” Commissioner Michael Gifford said.

            Gifford explained later that the options for fixing the problem area include dredging manually to open up a new channel or machine-dredging, using Plymouth County equipment that won’t be available to them right away. First, he said, the town must determine the conditions of the river bottom through measurement sticks, weights or manually wading through it.

            In other business, the commission continued its Notice of Intent public hearing for 0 Bishop Road, the construction of a single-family home with on-site septic system within a wetlands buffer zone, until its next meeting on May 21.

            The board approved a requested extension of the Order of Conditions for Plumb Corner for housing lots located on Rounseville Road until 2025.

            The Conservation Commission will meet next on Tuesday, May 21, at 7:00 pm at Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Michael J. DeCicco

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