The June 20 meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission found the commission working through a list of violations and restoration plans due to illegal cutting and the issuance of Enforcement Orders for several properties.
Coming before the commission was William Chamberlain, employee of Decas Cranberry Company, and Brooke Monroe of Pinebrook Consulting with two after-the-fact Notice of Intent filings. Both filings dealt with unpermitted logging activities at Walnut Plain Road and 223 Burgess Avenue.
Before Monroe could present her proposed remediation plans, Chamberlain asked to be recognized.
“First, let me say there’s nothing nefarious about this project.” Chamberlain explained that he had had discussions with Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon before enlisting the services of a sawmill to remove trees from the properties, but he admitted, “I didn’t listen.” He then went on to plead on behalf of Decas Cranberry Company.
“This is a residential property. We’ve been paying full taxes,” Chamberlain said of the two lots. “It’s all on me. I convinced the corporation to cut down the trees.”
Monroe shared her opinion that it was better to leave the disturbed areas as is for the time being and review regrowth in the fall. That didn’t sit well with the commission, as Chairman Michael Conway stated, “I don’t see the need to wait.”
The commission and Farinon wanted to see shrubs and other native plantings done now to provide habitat enrichment.
Monroe asked for a continuation for the Walnut Plain property hearing until the next meeting, at which time she’ll return with a planting plan.
Later in the hearing, while discussing the lot on Burgess Avenue, things got a little heated when Conway said he was getting annoyed with Decas, saying, “This is the third violation this year…. It looks like a pattern.”
Chamberlain fired back, “I don’t think it’s a pattern. Since 1935, Decas has been a good neighbor.” He said the company had created jobs in the area and provided passive recreation opportunities by allowing the public access to their properties.
Farinon intervened, saying that what they were being asked for was the same thing the commission had been asking for similar violations: restoration plans.
This hearing was also continued, and both will be reopened when the commission meets again in July.
Returning to the Conservation Commission were Lorraine and William Hawkes, 591 Neck Road, with a restoration plan to mitigate vegetation cutting along Snipatuit Pond in violation of wetlands regulations. Satisfied that all the commission’s requests for size and types of plants were in place, the Notice of Intent filing was conditioned.
A NOI after-the-fact filing for property owned by Hartley Beach Trust, Patricia Corwin, Norene Hartley, and Keith Cannon was also heard. A violation notice was issued on April 13 for illegal brush cutting and alternation of vegetated wetlands along Snows Pond. A restoration plan was submitted by Brian Madden of LEC Environmental Consultants, which included high bush blueberry shrubs and other native species. Madden said that grubbing had not taken place so many shrubs and plants would return throughout the growing season.
Farinon complimented Madden for the thoroughness of the plans and noted that the violation had in fact been self-reported. Conway said, “When someone self reports, it’s not only easier on the staff, but it demonstrates acting in good faith.” The plan was conditioned.
The commission also issued Enforcement Orders for illegal activities on two properties. Logan Smith, 70 Ryder Road, had received a notification of violation on June 1 for earthwork and placement of wood chips in the 25-foot no-touch zone. Farinon said Smith had refused to remove a fire pit and do other requested repairs. An Enforcement Order was issued.
Also receiving an Enforcement Order was Taylor Jesse and Chance Avery, 422 High Street, for cutting and clearing in a bordering vegetated area. Farinon said that in a telephone conversation with the property owners they had said that estimates for repairs had not been sought.
Representing East Over Reservation, Hiller Road, in their Request for Determination of Applicability was Diane Lang, manager for the trustees. She said that she had been working with Farinon on plans to remove trees to allow an opening in the canopy for the planting and growth of shrubs and other habitat-rich plantings. The plan received a Negative Determination.
Due to the July 4 holiday, the next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is planned for July 18 at 7:00 pm in the town hall meeting room.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell