Conservation Commission approves two homeowner projects

WESTFIELD – In a hearing continued from Aug. 17, William and Kristine Sheldon of Done RIght Homes were given approval by the Conservation Commission on Aug. 25 to demolish a single family home and shed at 0 Russellville Road and replace them with a ranch and garage within a 100-foot buffer zone of wetlands.

At the initial meeting, William Sheldon explained that the old house was located within the 50-foot buffer zone along with anarea with large trash items. Sheldon said he planned to tear the house down, remove all of the trash from the area and return it to its natural state.

The new house, garage and lawn area will be between the 50-foot and 100-foot buffer zone. Other plans for the property will be to install boulders at the 50-foot line, and to remove the old asphalt from the driveway, grind it up offsite and reuse it for a driveway to the new house.

Some concern was expressed by Thomas Sharp about a well being installed within the 0 to 100 foot buffer zone, with the owner explaining it needed to be 50 feet from the septic area. Sharp said the commission has been clear about no new development within 50 -oot of a resource area, but agreed with the consensus of the members that the project would be a net benefit to the property.

The commission approved the request for determination with the conditions that the owners install straw wattles prior to construction, that the conservation coordinator approve erosion controls and boulder installation, that native seed mix is spread where invasives are removed, and all trash is removed.

Also approved was a request for construction of a bridge/crossing over a finger-like wetland within a 100-foot resource zone at 237 Fowler Road.

The applicant, Christopher Dolan was joined by Dennis Clark, an “unpaid consultant” who said he works for a conservation commission in another town.

Clerk described the project, saying behind Dolan’s house a wetland finger eight feet in width that runs down the middle of a haying field. He said there is an existing crossing which they are proposing to replace with a 12-foot platform.

Clark said the field has been hayed by a farmer for the last 25 years, has an agricultural exemption, and the crossing would protect the wetland.

“I was thinking the bridge would be an improvement, because the tractor wouldn’t be driving through the wetlands,” said Conservation Coordinator Meredith Borenstein, who also said she would like to examine the soil for a delineation of the wetlands, which did not appear to be consistent on filed forms. “I’d be happy to meet with you to double check that the eight foot width is really only eight feet. The design is great. If there’s a few feet more on either side, there is a provision to use fill,” she added.

Borenstein also asked for 20 feet from the wetland side not to be mown. Dolan said he was amenable on the south side of the delineation to give more than 20 feet, even though, with the agricultural exemption on the property, they could get right in where the trees are. He also said he was willing to come up with a haying plan.

The request for determination was approved with the conditions that the wetlands delineation be corrected by the Army Corps of Engineers, that the 100 foot boundary be marked with a suitable combination of markers, trees, boulders, and or birdhouses, agreed upon by Dolan and Borenstein, and a mowing plan be arranged with the National Resource Conservation Service.

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