At the July 10th hearing commissioners asked that their conservation agent, Paul Shea, investigate whether Ford needed another storm water permit.
Chris Ford, acting on behalf of his brother Ted, continues to attempt to get approval on a landscape plan for a modest home to be built at 559 Jerusalem Road.
All town boards with the exception of the conservation commission have signed off on this proposed project: the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (twice), the sewer commission and the building commissioner.
At the July 10th hearing commissioners asked that their conservation agent, Paul Shea, investigate whether Ford needed another storm water permit, as several commissioners felt the landscaping plan might exceed the 5,000 square feet loss allowable of bordering wetlands.
When Ford’s attorney, Charles Humphrey, asked if the commission would vote on the plan and give Ford an order of conditions, chair Jack Creighton said the commission was not yet ready to vote on the issue. Ford has now submitted five landscape plans with minor modifications. Commissioners have not voted on any of the plans.
Normally, commissioners consider an applicant’s plans and then order that certain conditions be met.
The points that bothered commissioners on July 10:
Commissioners were not sure that one of the continued hearings (June 5) had been properly advertised by Ford. Ford had advertised that the hearing was an RDA (a Request for Determination) and not a NOI (Notice of Intent). Humphrey felt this was not significant because the continued hearing on June 19 was advertised as a NOI. (This is a new concern.)
Greg Morse of Morse Engineering said both hearings included a full description of the proposal.
Although Morse had both emailed and snail-mailed a full description of the landscaping proposal to commissioners, vice chair Patrick Kennedy said he had never seen the email, as his email had changed. It is not known what the other commissioners saw, but no one complained.
Water and sewer studs exist on the existing driveway. Commissioners have discussed making Ford enter the property another way; Morse said relocating the water and sewer services would be costly and not be feasible.
Commissioners are concerned that heavy equipment would be used on the site to remove brush and debris. Morse said the plan was to use a small excavator. Creighton wondered if debris an invasive plant removal could be done by hand. Brad Holmes said it would take perhaps 20 strong men.
Morse said that commissioners normally issue applicants a blanket approval for street openings (for water and sewer).
Kennedy angered, saying commissioners had no input into the location of the water/sewer stubs. Humphreys told Kennedy that Ford got that permission when he got the sewer permit. “It’s in a good location,” Humphreys said. Kennedy noted that he had since been informed that the project was not taking place in a critical area and he was fine with that.
“The commission had no say in the placement of the stub,” Creighton argued, saying Ford should have come to the commissioners first, not after the fact.
Creighton asked if Ford was actually adding fill to the property and if Ford wanted to remove the invasive Norway maples was a view issue. Brad Holmes of ECRHolmes.com said taking down the maples was a win-win situation – it would improve the view and get rid of the invasive species.
Creighton asked Holmes what the cost of the proposed landscaping project was. Holmes said he didn’t know. Creighton wondered about the cost of the on-going maintenance plan. Holmes said presumably the owners of the house would take care of that.
Commissioner Alex Koines also said he was interested in an estimate of the cost of the landscaping project. Editor’s note: commissioners have no business asking that question.
Creighton suggested Ford clean up the property now, get rid of the broken glass and trash and come back to the conservation commission later.
“This is the project,” Humphreys said.
“Go ahead and clean it up,” Creighton responded.
“This is the application,” Humphreys said.
Creighton then suggested commissioners might require a performance bond guarantee.
Humphreys wondered if the commission had required any other applicants to purchase the same.
Creighton said it was it the bylaws that commissioners could require such a bond.
Humphreys said this would show prejudice by commissioners.
When commissioner David Farrag asked if the landscaping would cause an elevation of the property, Humphreys said it would not.
Abutter Peter DeCaprio told commissioners he could challenge Ford’s foundation permit at any time and maintained that Ford had not secured the necessary building permits. He added, as he has done so many times before, that he was filing suit against the town’s having granted Ford a sewer connection TOMORROW.
Commissioner Ed Graham continues to worry about construction at the site, suggesting a project manager is present at all times during construction.
As he has from the beginning, Humphreys suggested the board vote on the conditions.
Commissioner Jim Martin said he felt he had learned enough about this project.
Kennedy said he had come to the meeting prepared to vote, but needed to know if the second site and/or the landscaping plan triggered any storm water hearing.
Creighton then said he had no idea what the final house plan looked Ford reminded him that said he had shown the house plans to the commission.
Former commissioner Bill Henry who was fired from the commission by selectmen for lack of attendance, but who was present at this hearing, opined that an outside consultant be hired by Ford to look at water run off.
Humphreys again asked the commissioners to give Ford an order of conditions.
“I’m not sure the commissioners are willing to do that,” Creighton said.
In related news, commissioners, who serve on a regulatory board, are not supposed to be discussing the Ford hearing with the public outside of the hearing itself. Several commissioners, one being vice chair Patrick Kennedy, have done so. Kennedy called a member of the pubic and invited him to meet with him over the same.
Kennedy is an up and coming conservation star, but he has to abide by the rules.© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed