Marathon Meeting with MBTA

On November 16, the reopened hearing for a Notice Of Intent filed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for a secondary roadway at 45 Kings Highway turned into a marathon of correspondence between engineering teams, the MBTA and the Rochester Conservation Commission’s peer-review consultant Environmental Partners, as well as deep dives into technical drainage data.

            The public hearing lasted more than an hour and a half and was, as Chairman Chris Gerrior would comment, “a very big bite.”

            Coming before the commission were members of the MBTA engineering teams, primarily headed up by Jonathan Niro of the BETA Group. Niro would spend the lion’s share of the hearing reviewing pages of documented interactions between his firm, members of at least two MBTA engineering firms and Environmental Partners. Point by point, Niro read comments and offered responses to such matters as to whether an existing structure on the property is jurisdictional and whether drainage systems are adequate, including the design and infiltration studies of stormwaters and stream replication plans.

            There were several areas of the review that especially piqued the interest of the commission, notably Vice Chairman Daniel Gagne’s interest.

            Gagne questioned several times why the building on the property should not be included in the commission’s review, given that stormwater flowing from beneath the structure ended up in jurisdictional areas. He said that treatment standards for stormwater runoff were set by the state, yet it seemed a state agency was not abiding by those regulations. He also questioned why the commission had not received a report on the separation between groundwater and a planned detention basin.

            The MBTA’s project manager, Tess Paganelli, said that wetland scientist Brad Holmes had confirmed the acceptance of wetland flagging, however during his site evaluation additional streams were identified, all part of the original cranberry bog located at the site. She said the streams are outside the planned roadway construction but that those would be mapped and added to documents.

            While the commission was generally satisfied with wetland replication planning, there remained a long list of unresolved matters.

            Gagne stated, “They haven’t done what they needed to do … I don’t buy it.”

            Gerrior said that Environmental Partners noted that the plan was not complete. He also asked that at the next meeting BETA should come with two documents, one listing everything that has, to date, been agreed between all parties and another with open matters pending completion in an effort to make the meeting more concise.

            The hearing was continued to December 7.

            A.D. Makepeace Company representative Bill Madden of G.A.F. Engineering returned to the commission with a seven-point commentary on restoration plans for a massive site known as Morse Swamp Reservoir.

            To recap, the cranberry operator had performed unpermitted activities in the form of wetland dredging, leaving enormous piles of soils in and on jurisdictional wetlands. The filing noted the area in violation as 1,458 linear feet of banking, 17,001 square feet of bordering vegetated wetlands, 200,376 square feet of land under a waterbody, 29,305 square feet of land subject to flooding, and 2,737 square feet of riverfront area. An Enforcement Order had been issued.

            On this night, Madden offered a comprehensive restoration plan that included removal of soils, a planting plan, and procedures for performing all necessary activities in jurisdictional locations. The plan was approved by the commission.

            An Emergency Certification request by Tom Gadmonski of Agilitas Energy for a culvert repair and new culvert placement at 0 Middleboro Road was granted. Gerrior instructed Gadmonski to advise the neighbor of planned construction dates and timing.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, at 7:00 pm.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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