The Sippican Lands Trust was praised by Marion Conservation Commission Chair Shaun Walsh for its work, particularly its work at the Brainard Marsh Property off Delano Road, during the commission’s May 26 meeting. But the commission’s job is nonetheless ongoing after the SLT filed a Request for Determination of Applicability for proposed dredging of saltmarsh ditches for mosquito abatement and improvement of the saltmarsh habitat at the site.
SLT Executive Director Jim Bride agreed with the assessment of the commission that a Notice of Intent is in order. The impact of the proposed work on the saltmarsh, coastal beach, and coastal bank was considered undeniable so, as favorable as the project is, detailed, vetted plans are appropriate according to ConCom.
Bride told the commission that SLT’s intent was file the RDA for the phragmites removal and then follow up with measures to control mosquitoes and making viable the saltmarsh.
“This is an important project,” he said.
In supporting the positive determination, ConCom member Jeff Doubrava cited 2 feet of higher elevation not only deepening a channel but creating a channel that doesn’t exist today. “Not sure how I feel about that,” he said, asking for greater definition.
ConCom member Emil Assad referenced personal experience as a resident. “To me it wasn’t a saltmarsh when I was growing up, more like a bordering vegetated wetland,” he said, asking if the stream that feeds the pond is freshwater or filled by the tides. Assad also articulated concern about wood frog breeding that is evident by egg masses in the area. “I would like to protect the mating frogs.”
Acknowledging Assad’s information as valuable, Walsh suggested that SLT file a Notice of Intent that identifies species, wildlife habitat and how animals might be affected by the project. “It’s an absolutely spectacular property, but whatever we do out there we want to make sure we do it right and protect the resource areas,” said Walsh.
A May 22 site visit revealed obvious progress with the effort to cut phragmites, the temporary eradication of the invasive plants dramatically improving the view, according to Walsh, who also noted the phragmites are coming back. Alan Harris of the SLT said that the only cutting occurred in 2020 with five people spending over 100 hours.
ConCom considered both the area and the work to be jurisdictional and voted for Positive 1 and 3 Determinations that necessitate the filing of a Notice of Intent.
The hearing was one of three involving the SLT, as Walsh announced Marion’s return to former policy allowing for decisions after an initial public hearing.
SLT received Negative 2 Determination of Applicability for its RDA filing to replace deteriorated top boards on the walkway off of 392 Point Road out to Howland Marsh. The boardwalk is closed and in rough shape including rotted wood. The work will be confined to the top boards, as work on the support beams would potentially constitute impact to the resource areas.
In a public hearing continued from May 12, SLT requested a continuance for surveying work in association with its RDA for rerouting of the Osprey Marsh boardwalk to avoid encroachment of private property at 354 Point Road. The case was continued to ConCom’s June 9 meeting.
The Marion Department of Public Works was involved in two cases during the May 26 meeting.
The DPW was issued Negative 3 Determination of Applicability for clearing and grading for construction of a 20 foot wide paved emergency drive from Mill Street to the rear parking lot of Sippican School, and in a public hearing continued from May 12, the DPW was voted Negative 2 and 3 Determinations of Applicability for road improvements at several locations in town.
In the other continued public hearing (from May 12), the commission voted to open a 53G bank account for ConCom to retain a third-party consultant at the applicant’s expense to hire Bob Gray of Shea Environmental as a third-party consultant to evaluate the NOI filed by John and Cynthia Paliotta for eradication of invasive plants. The applicants were amenable to the choice.
“It’s a complicated project with a lot of resource areas on the site,” said Walsh, who called a senior professional wetlands scientist who serves as co-chair of the Bourne Conservation Commission and is certified by the state Department of Environmental Protection as an evaluator for Title 5. The next step in the case was to be a site visit.
The public hearing was continued to Wednesday, June 9.
In a new public hearing, Matthew deGroot was issued Negative 2 and 3 determination of applicability in response to his RDA filling for connection of his house to a gas line at 14 Aucoot Avenue, installation of fencing and removal of two cedar trees encroaching on the foundation of his house.
In a new public hearing, James Kiehl was voted a Negative 2 determination of applicability in response to his RDA filing for construction of an 864 square-foot standalone garage addition at 15 West Avenue.
In a new public hearing, Joseph and Erin Kazen filed an abbreviated NOI for an above-ground circular swimming pool within 20 feet of vegetated wetlands at 38 Joanne Drive. ConCom voted to issue an Order of Conditions authored by Doubrava that includes the condition that discharge of pool water to jurisdictional areas is strictly prohibited.
The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, at 7:00 pm.
Marion Conservation Commission
By Mick Colageo