Mattapoisett Conservation Commission Chairman Michael King was impressed with Sara da Silva Quintal’s professional experience related to her role in the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s restoration project slated for ‘The Bogs’ as she introduced the preliminary steps of the project in two separate filings on September 9. Nonetheless, both hearings were continued until the commission sees a final letter of approval from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.
The BBC seeks to install four shallow groundwater wells and three surface water wells at the bogs in its Request for Determination of Applicability, and a Notice of Intent proposes an invasive plant species eradication and management plan to control the spread of phragmites inside 1.2 acres of the 50 acres of land and manmade wetlands off Acushnet Road.
The data the BBC will collect from the water wells is critical in order to understand the conditions of the site, Quintal said, and will provide engineers with information necessary to conceive a solid restoration engineering plan.
After a brief introduction of the NOI for phragmite control, King read some of Conservation Agent Elizabeth Liedhold’s comments on the proposal, including her recommendations for a licensed herbicide applicator and a professional wetlands scientist to oversee the project and monitor the ongoing management.
Luckily for the BBC, Quintal is both of those.
Quintal, a wetlands scientist, said she put together the phragmite control plan herself and is a state certified herbicide applicator currently overseeing several other BBC properties with similar invasive species control plans. Quintal also put together the habitat management plan included in the submission. She contested Leidhold’s suggestion for a wetlands delineation because the wetlands are a manmade resource area – cranberry bogs that are now decommissioned – with bog cells and canals with “very strict boundaries” that are mapped out by the Coalition. King concurred.
In response to Leidhold’s recommendation for a delineation, King stated, “For me, personally, I’m comfortable with the fact that it (the wetland resources) is well-defined.” He was also comfortable with Quintal’s explanation of the rather controlled hand application of the herbicide to the hand-cut stems of the phragmites that are still rather limited in number and situated in disconnected pockets. The goal is to “nip them in the bud,” Quintal said, before they spread further and take hold of the wetlands.
“We feel it’s very, very important to tackle those invasive species now before there’s any ground disturbance,” Quintal said. “We don’t want to have a bigger problem later. We don’t want to have to continue to wait to treat these because they’re going to be more challenging to treat later on in time.”
Speaking to Leidhold’s recommendation for ongoing monitoring and reporting on the progress, Quintal said, “We do not take invasive species plans like these lightly…It’s important to stay on top of them.”
King referred to prior NOIs for invasive species control plans of a similar scope from Maple Road and Aucoot Road where Leidhold’s recommendations were appropriate, but said, “[Those] were not manmade created features that had become resource areas… so it’s a little bit different.
“But I’m just one vote,” King continued. He said he was comfortable moving forward without a wetlands delineation based on Quintal’s qualifications and asked other commission members for their opinion.
“All you gotta do is stand out there and see everything’s that made,” said Chapman Dickerson.
“I think we’re okay to move forward with this,” said King. “After [Quintal’s] eloquent recital of her professional experience… I think we’re comfortable with moving ahead with the project.”
The commission was, however, unwilling to vote on either filing that night without that letter of approval from NHESP that has jurisdiction over the property due to the presence of Eastern box turtles. King said it was the commission’s policy to refrain from issuing approval without final NHSEP confirmation.
Both hearings were continued until September 23.
The BBC’s ultimate goal at The Bogs is to restore the wetlands to their natural state before they were altered for cranberry farming. To achieve this, water from Tripps Mill Brook nearby will continue to feed the wetlands at the volume in which it currently flows, but a plan is in the works to divert stormwater directly toward the bogs that will act as a flood plain of sorts.
“We’re hoping to… capture some large flows that can infiltrate and use that area instead of sending [all that stormwater] through culverts,” said Quintal. “We’d rather see that water be fed to the bog systems themselves…”
In other matters, the commission will take under advisement an application for a Request to Amend a Notice of Intent that resulted from an Enforcement Order issued to Jesse Davidson, 22 Pine Island Road, and continued the public hearing in order to consult with the building commissioner on how best to proceed.
Davidson’s representative, Bill Madden, tried his best to explain the discrepancy between the original plan of record and what was ultimately built, but Madden, whom Davidson recently hired to assess the situation, admitted that he still hadn’t “gotten to the bottom” of all the issues.
According to Madden, a different plan from the one filed with the Conservation Office must have been submitted to the contractors that led to work that included truckloads of fill used to elevate the work area to lift it out of the FEMA designated flood zone. An enclosed basement not permitted in the Order of Conditions was then constructed, which will have to be brought into compliance with current standards for flood zone construction as the basement is now considered a “concealed space” below base flood elevation.
“So, it’s not really just a simple task of us coming in with another plan,” said Madden, later adding that this particular assignment belongs on his list of “sticky situations” that he has addressed throughout his career.
Leidhold suggested that Madden should submit a new plan, and King was unsure as to whether the commission should amend the Order of Conditions or require Davidson to file a new NOI.
“I’m not sure at this point because I’ve never seen anything like this happen before,” King said.
The commission continued the hearing until September 23.
Also during the meeting, the commission issued a Negative 3 determination for an RDA filed by Keith Curry, 7 Shaw Street, to install a new mudroom and porch to the rear of the house over existing lawn within the 100-foot wetlands buffer zone. Curry was ordered to haul offsite any excess earth and other materials resulting from the work.
Joanne and Richard Cote, 5 Gary Drive, received a swift Negative 3 determination for their RDA to install a new septic tank and mounded leaching field and to fill in the existing septic tank and abandon the old leaching field.
The commission gave a Negative 3 determination for an RDA filed by Rad Williams, 31 Shore Drive, to remove a 12’x12’ deck and extend it out 8 additional feet onto existing lawn within the FEMA flood zone.
The commission approved a revised plan for an NOI filed by 56 North Street Realty Trust, Arnold Cestari, Trustee, for 12 North Street. The applicant’s request to divert water to convert existing eutrophic pools to improve wildlife habitat was withdrawn, and only the requests to remove stockpiles from the area and install a fence raised six inches off the ground were approved.
The NOI for Michelle Lacasse, 27 Fieldstone Drive, was approved for the construction of a new patio at rear of the house, to clear some trees and stumps up to the wetlands line, to remove overgrowth around the house bordering the wetland, and for some additional paving of the existing driveway in front of the house.
A Certificate of Compliance was granted to Marianne Hickey, 13 Waterman Street.
The commission withdrew an Enforcement Order issued to Pamela Fleming, 5 Laurel Street, because the approved work was never undertaken.
The continued public hearing for an NOI filed by Next Grid Bowman, LLC to construct a large-scale ground-mounted solar array field at 0 Bowman Road was again continued until September 23 at the applicant’s request.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 23 at 6:30 pm at the Mattapoisett Town Hall.
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Jean Perry