Pelham Conservation Commission
Members Present: Members Absent:
Robert Yarmo, Chairman William McDevitt
Chairman Robert Yarmo brought the meeting to order at at the Pelham town hall.
HEARINGS: Open Space LCHIP (Picard Property) Update
Deborah Waters, Open Space Committee, presented a report
with emphasis on the “Stewardship Plan for Little
Ms. Waters reported that there is a need for a footbridge to be built in order to span the wetlands area near the entrance. One of the management plans addresses ATV’s and are not allowed on any town-owned property in Pelham. An informational sign will be erected at the entrance point. The boundaries of the property will be marked with metal signs and a name has to be assigned to the property. She presented a sample sign.
The document presented by Ms. Waters is a 5-page report and will
be filed under the title: STEWARDSHIP PLAN FOR LITTLE
Member Shirley Wakefield asked about an encroachment and
liability issues with this piece of land.
Ms. Waters explained that the Town of
Mr. Yarmo asked if this stewardship plan was in place of or above the stewardship plan that had initially been drawn up. Ms. Waters explained that the original stewardship plan was a draft. Mr. Yarmo asked if the Conservation Commission was obligated in any way for this plan. Ms. Waters explained that there is $2,500.00 that is placed in a fund that LCHIP would use should there be any problems. The $2,500.00 was granted over and above the grant by LCHIP. Mr. Kakkad asked when Conservation does their monitoring of the site, is there a report that needs to be made out and filed. Ms. Waters said she didn’t know at this time but it would probably be a good idea. She suggests that it would be a good idea to take pictures, etc. Previously, there were aerial pictures taken and that would establish the baseline for the property. Mr. Yarmo suggested that the name be “Little Island Pond Conservation Area”. Once the name is established, LCHIP will provide the sign. Naming of this site does not have to take place tonight. Paul Gagnon suggested that the Little Island Pond Watershed Association might like some input on naming this parcel and asked Shirley Wakefield if she would like to email those involved for their input. She agreed to do so.
Ms. Wakefield asked if Conservation is privy to the survey that was done. The answer from Ms. Waters was yes and it was submitted to LCHIP. This has all been recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Ms. Waters asked how the Conservation Commission would like to organize the Stewardship Plan.
Mr. Gagnon asked if there was a member of the Conservation Commission who lived near this site would be able to walk the property and make a report? Ms. Waters said that there may be work that would have to be done and if “you manage it” that you might encourage wildlife into the area. There is monitoring it, then there’s actively managing it says Ms. Waters. There is also a public safety issue and we would want to maintain the trails, etc. Ms. Wakefield asked if there were any monies set aside for upkeep of the trails, etc., and it was explained that any expenses would come out of the Conservation budget. Mr. Kakkad suggested that some of the projects might be adopted by members of the Boy Scouts.
Under Old Business:
Mr. Yarmo asked Ms. Waters when the next meeting was with NRPC re the build-out analysis. She answered October 28th. Mr. Yarmo said that he had distributed a report to Planning Board members on the build-out analysis and had only received one comment so far. Mr. Yarmo reminded Ms. Waters that on October 28th they would be meeting with the Board of Selectmen. The meeting with NRPC will need to be rescheduled.
PRELIMINARY DISCUSSION: Map 34, Lot 6-206, Proposed 5 lot Subdivision - an Extension of Irene Drive - Builder: David Mendes of 54 Jericho Road
Mr. Yarmo explains to those residents of Irene Drive and the Thomas Avenue area that the Conservation Commission has just received the revised analysis report today. The engineer has not yet reviewed this plan. Our purpose is basically to comment to the Planning Board what we feel are the environmental concerns. We’re here to ensure the proper utilization and the protection of the natural resources and the water shed protection for the town of Pelham. We will comment to the Planning Board and to the Department of Environmental Services. A booklet “Environmental Impact Assessment for a 5-Lot Subdivision, Map 34, Lot 6-206 (Irene Drive Extension/Thomas Avenue-Pelham), dated September 2003, S.D.K. Landholdings L.L.C.” that was prepared by Gove Environmental Services was made available to the members.
The plan shows 5 lots on the extension of Irene Drive and then the roadway connects to Thomas Avenue. This would be a major wetland impact and would require a dredge and fill. Deb Scott, Paul Gagnon, Shirley Wakefield and Frank Culbert did a site walk along with members of the Planning Board. There are no comments from the Board at this time.
Kathleen Hachez, 10 Nancy Avenue: She questioned “a revised impact report”? Mr. Yarmo explained that some of the initial report was not complete; therefore a revised report was submitted. Mostly there were some clerical changes when the interim planner was here said Mr. Yarmo.
Suzanne Tierney, 18 Thomas Avenue: She was at the Planning Board meeting She presented some pictures and 4 pages of names of people who are opposed to this plan (45 signatures from people in the Nancy Ave., Thomas Ave., Gladys Street, Albert Street, Cranberry Lane, Albert Street, and Marsh Road).
Ms. Tierney commented on the species that are evident in this wetlands that people enjoy in this area. We brought our concerns to the Planning Board about the water level at certain times of the year. There is water in the basements and in the backyards.
Mr. Yarmo stated that sometimes there are discrepancies in the Planning Board’s concerns and a professional engineer with an engineer’s stamp that makes a report to the contrary, that the water would be handled properly. As an example, the Planning Board hears from 50 abutters who present concerns about basement flooding, etc., but the Planning Board must rely on the professional engineer. If you want to make a point with the Planning Board then you probably should get an engineer to submit a report that would challenge the town’s engineer. The Conservation’s task is with the environmental assessment report. The report lays out the value of the wetland. Jim Gove who did the report testified at the Planning Board that this particular wetland would qualify as a prime wetland if it were so designated as a prime wetland. It is not a prime wetland, as it has not been studied and the town has not voted on it says Mr. Yarmo.
Alicia Hennessey, Dutton Road: She reports that when that particular parcel, Irene Drive, was brought before the Conservation Board there were a number of environmental studies done. One report revealed several endangered species and an important wildlife corridor. Peter Zohdi, the engineer who made the report dated March 2002, stated this is a very large wetland and any wetlands crossing would be great. It has been established that this is a very valuable wetland says Ms. Hennessey. She continues to say that this area may be a secondary recharge area to the aquifer. It is possible that contaminants on the project site may ultimately reach these aquifers. Ms. Hennessey suggested that tests be done on the wells nearby, to see if there are any contaminates, and if so, would have to be reported to the homeowners. The wetlands are basically the watershed for Beaver Brook says Ms. Hennessey.
Diane Andrews, 3 Albert Street: There has been a lot of development in that neighborhood, Robin Road and Irene Drive. There has been a lot of activity back there. The quality and quantity of water in the Albert Street area has declined considerably in the last two years. Sellers of homes had to install artesian wells, as the wells would not pass the tests required when the homes were sold. Ms. Andrews points out that the wells on Irene Drive have radon in them. Before any more homes are built in this area it needs to be looked at. Number one Albert Street is having problems and 2 Albert Street had to put in a filtration system. Also, 119 Marsh Road had to put in an artesian well because of a bacteria problem in their water.
Dana Ventolieri, 4 Nancy Avenue: Her home does not have a cellar, only a crawl space. She wants to know who approves the dredge and fill permits. Are there results from site walks done by the Planning Board? I own a 16-acre parcel under current use and three-quarters of it is useless. That’s fine with me. There is 2-feet of water now, what happens when construction starts? Is there going to be 3-feet? How can we get these wetlands to qualify as a Prime Wetlands?
Mr. Yarmo: The process is that an application is submitted to the town clerk then it is sent to Concord and to the Conservation Commission simultaneously. The Conservation Commission is obligated to provide comment on a dredge and fill permit to DES. They call the shots and they may or may not approve the wetlands crossing. DES has come down on a couple of instances. They did come down on all the wetlands crossings. One thing that should be done is to let the Planning Board know how valuable this parcel is. In order to have a piece of land adopted as a Primary Wetlands the town would have to vote on this. If adopted, the wetlands have certain protections at the state level. A study takes quite a while and it is too late to do that now.
Mr. Gagnon: Advised that Ms. Ventolieri can write her comments right a way to DES and voice her concerns. In this particular case, it would be nice if they came down and walked the property. Abutters can hire an attorney to voice concerns and ask, “What can we do?” Mr. Gagnon went on to say that Honey Lane is 2,400-ft long, and that is the maximum for a dead end street. If a builder wants to put in more homes beyond the 2,400-feet then he has to do connectivity. The final decision is with the Planning Board but you people can work toward a compromise. You might even come before the Conservation Commission to see if this land can be purchased (and protected), or help buy the land.
Deborah Waters: She was on the Conservation Commission with Alicia Hennessey at the time Irene Drive was proposed so is aware of the whole issue of impacting the wetlands. Gove Environmental Services, at that time, said that this piece of land would qualify as a Prime Wetland and that maybe we should contact Dr. Richardson to qualify this as a Prime Wetland. Maybe he could make some recommendations. There is supposed to be a 100-ft buffer. Any properties that border Beaver Brook are under the Shoreline Protection Act and has a whole other set of regulations. Ms. Waters offered her help to the group in writing any documents that might have an impact in the decision-making.
Mr. Yarmo: Expert testimony has more impact or recognition in the courts over a private citizen. There was a piece of land on Dutton Road that the Conservation Commission was involved in whereby I took a stand that the buffer was being encroached and we needed it for the wetlands and I made this recommendation to the ZBA. The ZBA denied the application which I thought was the right thing to do. The landowner appealed it and supplied a wetland scientist who provided expert testimony and the court found in favor of the landowner because we “the town” did not have rebuttal “expert” testimony. The judge threw the Zoning Board of Adjustments ruling out. They discredited my testimony.
Shirley Wakefield: Explained that one of the things that they did for the Picard property was they hired a wetland’s scientist. They reviewed the property and made a report on a report that had already been done. They got a favorable report due to the scientist that was hired. The cost for the scientist was about $2,000.00. Everyone in the neighborhood was approached and was asked to help with this expense.
Chairman Yarmo asked for a motion to invite Dr. Richardson to this site to get his opinion as soon as possible with regard to crossing the wetlands.
MOTION: (Sanjay Kakkad/Paul Gagnon) to invite Dr. Richardson to Pelham to review the area of Irene Drive/Thomas Avenue extension for his opinion with regard to crossing the wetlands.
VOTE: 5-0 Motion passes.
Chairman Yarmo said there are many wetlands in town that need to be studied and that some would qualify as a prime wetland. He also said that volunteers could work with the experts to do this. He estimated a cost of $2,500.00 per wetland study.
Map 2, Lot 5-75: Keyes Hill Road Reality Trust – (proposed 7 lot subdivision) Known as Parkside Drive Subdivision – Dredge & Fill Application
A revised plan was submitted which showed a change of location of the driveway and the road that the Conservation Commission had requested. The plan that was reviewed previously was not the plan that came with the dredge and fill application. Bob will reference the change in the letter. There were three items. One was moving the road, one was moving the driveway and there was to be no cutting of a particular tree that provides a canopy to the wetlands.
MINUTES APPROVED w/ revisions:
MOTION TO ADJOURN (Sanja Kakkad/Paul Gagnon)
Vote: 5-0 to adjourn
Meeting Adjourned 9:05 p.m.
Glennie M. Edwards