MBTA Not Happy with Continuance

            It was not known at the conclusion of the December 21 meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission meeting whether the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority would be back on January 4 in an effort to sufficiently close the gaps and come away with an order of conditions for its construction plans at 45 Kings Highway.

            In a case continued from November 2, Tess Paganelli filed a Notice of Intent on behalf of the MBTA proposing the construction of a secondary access road, retaining wall and utilities as well as repaving, establishing storage tracks/areas, construction of wetland stream and replication areas and implementing stormwater best-management practices at the location.

            Following what Paganelli said were months of correspondence with peer review resulting in several plan revisions, the applicant was hopeful that the tweaks presented by environmental scientist Jonathan Niro of BETA Group, Inc. would have gotten the ball in the end zone.

            Niro summarized changes including a reduced-width access driveway (down to 26-feet wide with porous pavement and grading revisions,) infiltration basin revisions per peer review’s requests and stormwater mitigation plans to more effectively funnel the runoff to the prescribed treatment area.

            “We do now feel that the project has been improved … and we are in compliance with (company and state) standards,” said Niro.

            Scott Turner, Rochester’s peer-review consultant, did not agree and when put on the spot by Commission Vice Chairman Dan Gagne said he still thinks the water needs some treatment prior to infiltration and the plan thereby does not meet the state standard and would fail.

            Gagne stated that the annual costs need to be in the applicant’s Operation & Maintenance plan. “We can’t approve anything without the O&M, that’s part of the report,” he said, criticizing the pitch of the drainage pipes as being too shallow, along with the details of the MBTA’s stormwater runoff plan.

            Commissioner Maggie Payne agreed with Turner on erosion control measures ahead of tree clearing, a point of disagreement according to peer review. “I would like to see erosion control put in before tree clearing and confirm groundwater elevations under the stockpile area,” she said. “I’m fine with the amount of replication area that you have, no need to push to the wall.”

            Payne agreed with Gagne that the commissioners need to see the O&M prior to approving anything.

            Commissioner Kevin Thompson echoed Gagne’s concern with getting water from the other end of the building making its way to that one basin at the west end.

            MBTA representatives insist that its design has been proven to handle a 100-year storm and noted that 80 percent of the stormwater is outside the jurisdictional boundary. The plan, they said, improves upon existing conditions.

            Citing the lack of satisfaction on the part of the membership and his own, Chairman Chris Gerrior asked the applicant if they understand what the commissioners need.

            “We need time to look at it as a final thing and that I don’t think we’ve done,” said Gerrior. “We have multiple members asking for things that are final that we don’t have. You’re telling me the pump’s awesome. Just show me the pump. I’ll agree that it’s awesome and then that won’t be an issue.”

            “This process has made it better, I really believe that and I think we’re really getting close to it, but I think we have to do a little tiny bit more. … And me looking at a whatever-percent plan without a maintenance, without a detail, I can’t do that.”

            Gerrior asked for a motion to continue and one was made, but Paganelli asked if the applicant gets a say in the matter. Gerrior confirmed that the MBTA does have a say, at which closing the hearing and a vote was requested by the applicant.

            “I’m just not sure that we’re going to be able to satisfy the commissioners. We’re running out of time, we have a tight schedule, we’ve met all of the requests,” Paganelli said, alluding to months of work on the plan with peer review.

            Gerrior said, “I think I gave you good information that’s going to lead to success. If you want me to go in a different direction, I’ll hold the vote right now, no problem.”

            Commissioner Ben Bailey told the MBTA’s representatives that an appeal process would take a lot longer than waiting until January 4 (the presumed continuance date.)

            “You guys are professionals, and we’re a bunch of dudes from Rochester trying to make this as good as possible, and that’s why your timeline and our timelines aren’t always going to match up,” said Gerrior. “We have jobs and families, and this is a part-time, volunteer thing for us. We’re asking you for information to help make it better, and I’m saying, ‘You’re making it better’ so let’s continue to make it better. In two more weeks, I’m going to be ready. You don’t want that, I’m fine with that.”

            Gagne told the MBTA representatives that they should have come to the commission at the beginning of the process with a project that meets the stormwater standards. “It still doesn’t meet the stormwater standards,” he said.

            Paganelli disagreed, but Gagne referred to his concerns over the drainage piping and the lack of an O&M document.

            Gagne abstained from a vote to continue, but the rest were yes votes. Gerrior told the representatives, “When I have all that information, I will be able to make an Order of Conditions if I have it in a reasonable time.”

            Earlier in the meeting, the commission voted an Order of Conditions to Renewable Energy Development Partners LLC, which had filed a Notice of Intent to construct a dual-use, ground-mounted solar array and a canal-canopy solar array within the buffer zone to wetland resource areas at 109 Neck Road.

            Continued from November 16, the public hearing was reopened, and representative Sarah Stearns of Beals and Thomas Inc. gave a progress update regarding screening near the edge of Snipatuit Pond requested by the Planning Board, along with the addition of a stockade fence near Long Pond. The additions are within the buffer zone and therefore inside the commission’s purview.

            Bailey, who also serves on Rochester’s Planning Board, reported that the board was satisfied with the applicant’s plans regarding trees. Having determined that there is no sufficient place to place vegetative screening, the Planning Board conditioned a stockade fence.

            “We have a bond in place, and we had a long discussion over the musical chairs that solar companies play and would there be an ongoing financial responsibility because bonds expire,” said Bailey.

            Thompson recommended verbiage in any decision that would allow ongoing maintenance without requiring subsequent filings with the commission.

            Gerrior added special conditions including notification to the commission at the start of work, the project timeline, a preconstruction meeting, barriers and measures to prevent flooding. Any plan changes require notification to the commission, storage of materials and equipment must minimize impact to soils and runoff, and any stockpiles or disposals have to be outside the 100-foot area.

            Gagne recused himself from the hearing.

            In a new public hearing, SMD Development LLC was issued a standard Order of Conditions filed a NOI proposing a septic-system repair at 4 Hartley Road, the location of Lloyd’s market.

            Represented by River Hawk Environmental LLC, SMD was requested by the Rochester Board of Health to install a denitrification system because the construction area sits between wetlands and a well. The representative said the advanced system has been added along with a grease trap and a 1,000-gallon tank. The new system will be 3 feet closer to the surface and away from the groundwater table.

            A public meeting to present a RDA is filed by Industrial Tower and Wireless LLC proposing underground utility work in the shoulder of the existing drive on the opposite side of the wetlands at 0 High Street. The owner is Wareham-based A.D. Makepeace Company. CONTINUED to January 4.

            The RDA for 15 Wolf Island Road was continued to January 4.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, January 4, at 7:00 pm.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Mick Colageo

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