Rochester’s Conservation Commission Tuesday gave the owner of property at 89 Box Turtle Drive a new ultimatum in the year-long dispute over the clearing of land too close to wetlands without a permit.
The commission approved giving owner Doug Rose until June 6 to provide an acceptable restoration plan without being fined for his noncompliance. But no plan by then will mean the fines will start up again.
Town Counsel attorney Elizabeth Lydon told the panel that the judge in a Magistrate Hearing on the fining issue has continued the case until September, and she and Rose’s attorney have agreed his client might have a restoration plan ready before then, in time for the commission’s next (June 6) meeting or shortly thereafter.
“My recommendation is to stop the fines until then,” Lydon said.
The commissioners agreed to suspend the fines, but they also decided that June 6 should be the hard and fast deadline to receive a restoration plan. Or the fines will begin again.
Commission member Mike Gifford emphasized how important it is that the board see the right plan by then. “Everyone in this room just wants to get past this,” he said. “I think it’s a good compromise. He needs to come here and work with us.”
Lydon said Rose’s attorney’s availability on June 6 is in question. Commission member Ben Bailey debunked that sticking point, saying if the attorney is part of a law firm he can send someone else. This dispute has dragged on long enough, he said.
“And when we have the plan, they have to lift the no-trespassing notice,” Bailey demanded. “We have to have that lifted for site visits.”
A year ago, the board voted to begin delivering “noncriminal enforcement tickets,” fining the property owner on a climbing scale of $50, then $100, then $300 per day for having done clearing work closer than 25 feet from wetlands without a permit. This vote came after the board asked the property owner to file a restoration plan with erosion and sedimentation controls in late July 2022.
In April of this year, the board reviewed a plan Rose had submitted that Bailey said lacked sufficient detail. The resulting vote at that meeting to continue fining Rose for his noncompliance was unanimous.
In other action, the commission voted a “negative determination” for a plan to install a set of exterior stairs to an existing garage within 70 feet of wetlands at 24 Mayflower Lane. The board decided the proposal would not result in any wetlands impact after Conservation Agent Merilee Kelly reported the garage is ‘a good distance’ from wetlands area.
The commission responded to a Notice of Intent to sell an acre of Chapter 61A agricultural and horticultural land for residential use off Mary’s Pond Road by recommending the Select Board not exercise its right to purchase the property under 61A regulations.
The Conservation Commission announced its next meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 6, starting at 7:00 pm at Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Michael J. DeCicco