On September 5, Craig Canning, Progressive Grower, Inc. of West Wareham, along with engineer Bill Madden of G.A.F. Engineering, met with the Rochester Conservation Commission for the continuation of a public hearing. The hearing was to review a Notice Of Intent filing by Canning for the construction of an agricultural supply and fertilizer distribution center located between Route 28 and Kings Highway in Rochester.
Previous meetings had spurred a number of questions by both the commission and the Planning Board, given the scope of the project. Canning proposes to construct six 60-foot by 120-foot buildings with many aspects of the project involving the 100-foot buffer zone.
Madden went over the last three remaining issues raised by commissioner Daniel Gagne, covering such matters as ‘rain gardens’ that allow stormwater to runoff, water quality, soils, fill, hydro-analysis, and topographical studies.
The only fly in the ointment for Canning was a question from Attorney Benjamin O’Grady representing TESCO Group who asked if the commission would consider evaluating future projects from a regional impact perspective, given the amount of development along that stretch of Cranberry Highway.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon wondered aloud, “By what authority?” O’Grady said because stormwater plans are unique to each project under the commission’s purview, possibly regulating the whole was a better approach.
Chairman Mike Conway said, “We review project by project, not by region.”
Then he asked O’Grady if he was aware of any other community that processes applications in that manner, and O’Grady responded, “No.”
Farinon assured the public and the commission that her office had been working diligently with Canning’s team saying, “We’ve already done a significant amount of work…. All concerns have been addressed.” She said that by the time a project gets to this stage in the process, numerous technical meetings have taken place to ensure the least amount of impact to the wetland.
The NOI was approved and also conditioned with special elements such as pre-construction meetings, operation and maintenance plans, and the involvement of a wetlands scientist, consulting engineer, and the commission’s representative.
In another NOI filing, Michael Santos received approval for the construction of an addition to a single-family dwelling within the 100-foot buffer zone, located at 8 Thistle Lane.
Also coming before the commission was John Gurney for 22 acres located in Rochester, Mattapoisett, and Acushnet, 84 Long Plain Road. Gurney proposes to construct a 16-foot wide gravel driveway easement that will require a wetlands replication area. The installation of the replication area will be situated in such as manner as to impose a buffer zone on his neighbor’s property. With this in mind, the commission asked for a letter from the neighbor confirming their agreement with Gurney’s plan. That hearing was continued until September 19.
Active duty service member John Draper received a three-year extension for an Order of Conditions set to expire in October for property located at 356 Snows Pond Road. Draper explained that his deployments have made it difficult to complete planned work. He received the extension and grateful acknowledgment for his service to the country.
Also discussed was a suggestion by Farinon that the commission consider adopting Massachusetts General Law 53G that would allow for greater latitude when outside peer review consultants are needed. The commission took that under consideration.
Also taken under consideration was Farinon’s suggestion that a part-time person be hired as a recording secretary for both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board to give the clerk currently covering meetings for both boards more in-office time for other pressing matters.
Farinon said she would gather more information for the Finance Committee with which she planned to meet on Monday, September 11, and would share those details with the commission as well.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 19 at 7:00 pm in the town hall meeting room.
By Marilou Newell