Ames Pond order of conditions extended two years; Darby Brook status discussion affects MacLellan Oil plan
The Tewksbury Conservation Commission met last night with all members present.
Civil engineer Jim Hanley of Civil Design Consultants appeared to seek extensions on several orders of conditions — that is, the set of requirements that must be met for a development project or activity to proceed.
Hanley first addressed 2131 Main St., a townhome development that has been underway for some time and that recently sported a “For Sale” sign. Hanley said all foundations, utilities and stormwater management systems are in the ground. A two-year extension was approved unanimously.
The next request was for 300 Ames Pond Drive, which has seen the removal of several acres of trees in the past 18 months. Hanley said the clearance work is about two-thirds complete, and he asked for a three-year extension.
“We haven’t had any issues out there,” he said. “We’re just looking for a little bit more time to clean up the remaining portion of the site.”
Several Cardigan Rd. residents in attendance took exception to the assertion that there are no issues, and ConCom member Linda Darveau agreed.
“Three years is a long time to have the abutters have to look at those mountains of dirt, and also for the erosion controls to stay in place,” said Darveau. “It’s already been four years.”
She reminded Hanley that the permit requires that erosion controls be inspected daily and made a motion to grant a two-year extension rather than three. After some public comment, that was approved unanimously.
Hanley stayed on to update the ConCon on Tree House Brewing Company’s proposed overflow lot at the former Funland, at 1879 Main St. Approximately 67% of the Funland site is located within a 100-year floodplain, and MassDEP pushed back on Tree House’s plan to count a stormwater basin as both a compensatory flood storage area and an area where stormwater from other portions of the site will be directed.
Hanley said that Tree House is changing course, eliminating the proposed infiltration basin and putting in place what’s called a wet pond, a type of detention pond lined with impermeable materials to prevent water from seeping into the soil. The depth is three to six feet, based on groundwater elevation. The pond is designed to retain a certain volume of water during and after rainfall events and to maintain a controlled flow rate, ensuring that the discharge does not cause downstream flooding or erosion issues.
“As new water comes in from the forebay, off of the parking lot into the pond, it essentially pushes water that’s been sitting in that pond,” said Hanley. “When it’s sitting in there, it’s dropping all its suspended solids, right, so it’s cleaner water that’s leaving.”
A waiver will be required, and Conservation Agent Joe Fontaine reminded the commission that Tewksbury’s bylaw is written such that this waiver can be provided as long as it provides “a substantial public benefit.”
Chair Daniel Ronan suggested that finally redeveloping the Funland site could be considered a benefit.
The plan has been submitted to the DPW, so Hanley was there just to update the ConCom. He will return on Dec. 13, at which time he hopes to have a response from the DPW.
Next, Hanley addressed the controversial proposal by Dr. Nitish Nahata to take down a row of mature trees to add 12 parallel parking spaces on Sarina Way to serve his office at 1438 Main St. Some of the spaces are within the 50- and 100-foot wetland buffer areas.
That plan has met with skepticism from the Planning Board along with well-organized resistance from abutters, including the residents of Sarina Woods, a townhome development behind the office.
“We have just begun working with the HOA at Sarina Woods,” said Hanley. “We made some initial adjustments to the plan, sent those over to them last week, and are awaiting response.”
The HOA’s spokesperson, Arafat Khan, expressed concerns around items relevant to the ConCom, including a lack of snow storage. Khan said the Sarina Woods residents have maintained the private road for more than seven years and questioned whether the business would address snow on a weekend and whether the increased impervious surface would increase flooding of their homes.
“He had mentioned that snow was going to be trucked off site,” said Khan. “I don’t know how effective that would be.”
An Oct. 26 DPW engineering report does not recommend waiving the snow storage waiver. The hearing was continued to Dec. 13.
Next up, Hanley addressed the proposed 24-unit apartment building at 1167, 1177 and 1187 Main St., the MacLellan Oil site. The ConCom’s review is focused on Darby Brook, which is one of a number of brooks in town that eventually flow into the Shawsheen River. The question at hand is whether the stream is intermittent or perennial. An intermittent stream flows only during certain times of the year, typically during periods of rainfall or snowmelt, and may completely dry up at some points. A perennial stream flows continuously throughout the year. Tewksbury previously ruled that Darby Brook is intermittent, but it’s shown as perennial on the USGS map.
Hanley brought photos from 2015, which Darveau questioned.
“I don’t get why we’re looking at pictures from 2015,” she said. “I think that was in a very different time, climatewise.”
Hanley responded that the documentation is within regulations.
“It does seem like you checked off all those boxes,” said Ronan. “If we vote one way it’s going to be appealed by somebody. If we vote the other way, it’s going to be appealed by somebody else.”
There’s also a question of whether any flow disruptions are manmade or created by beaver dams. Fontaine has reached out to MassDEP for guidance.
Paula Rowe, owner of a condo at Cottage Place at 1147 Main St., said her property has been flooded by the stream several times and offered photo evidence.
“It’s breaking down our driveway, we get water over there so often now,” said Rowe.
Another Cottage Place owner expressed concern about the feasibility of increasing the elevation and adding drainage so additional water does not flow onto their property.
“Additional impervious surface results in additional flow off the site, right,” said Hanley. “The way we counter that is, we have a wet pond and infiltration basin. In this case, we have subsurface underneath the parking lot that will fill up and then it will discharge.”
This notice of intent hearing was also continued to Dec. 13.