Back in February, the Rochester Conservation Commission received notification that landscaping activities appeared to be taking place along the shores of Snipatuit Pond.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon investigated the complaint and found a contractor on property owned by Lorraine and William Hawkes, 591 Neck Road.
Farinon requested that the contractor have Hawkes contact her office. What ensued was an enforcement order giving the Hawkes until April to provide plans for restoration. A whopping quarter acre of bordering vegetated wetlands had been clear-cut.
On June 6, the Hawkeses, along with Brad Holmes of Environmental Consulting and Restoration of Plymouth, came before the commissioners to discuss the matter.
Holmes laid out a phased plan for re-vegetating the disturbed landscape, including the variety of plant species expectations for regrowth of natural elements and long-range monitoring.
At one point, as Holmes explained the regrowth taking place in stumps of red maples, the remains of trees that had stood 50 feet high, Lorraine Hawkes rose to speak.
“I was not home when this was done,” Hawkes said. “…This wasn’t what I wanted.” She said she had instructed the contractor to cut out some invasive vines because, she said, “We could see the pond when we first bought the property.” Hawkes became visibly emotional as she apologized. “This wouldn’t have happened if I were home.”
Several commissioners wanted to see more than just seeding activities and small shrubs planted as commissioner Laurene Gerrior expressed why she wanted larger plantings. “It’s such a horrible scar right now.”
Holmes agreed that larger shrubbery and wildflowers could be planted along with proposed restoration plans. He said it was a good thing that the contractor had not removed tree stumps or performed other excavation activities, as this will allow natural plants to regenerate more easily.
Farinon said, “The area altered was a protected area, providing shading and nesting…. This is a biggie…. Many people are watching. If we had everyone on the pond thinking, ‘I want a view,’ it would be an environmental disaster.”
Farinon concluded, “We need a more aggressive planting plan.” She asked the commissioner to consider how they would have reacted to a request to clear the area. “Would we have approved it?” She answered the question for them, “No.” Farinon said they are awaiting a response from the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program on the restoration plan. The hearing was continued until June 20.
Earlier in the evening, Farinon spoke on behalf of several applicants – two seeking Certificates of Compliance and two seeking Requests for Determination of Applicability.
RDA conditions were approved for Willow Creek Builder for property located at 153 Forbes Road for the construction of a new well, and for Sippican Mill, 284 Mary’s Pond Road, for the pruning and/or removal of a tree located beside the stream and gristmill.
Certificates of Compliance were issued to the City of New Bedford, 1 Negus Way, for landscaping associated with a photovoltaic system installation, and Michael and Jean Isabelle, 183 Mendell Road, for the construction of an addition to an existing detached garage.
Alan Ewing representing Marc and Nancy Ferreira, property located off Vaughan Hill Road, received an Order of Conditions for their Notice of Intent for the construction of a new home, septic system, and well that will require the importation of fill and a wetlands crossing with replication area.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for June 20 at 7:00 pm in the town hall meeting room.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell