2006-08-24 / News

Town Administrator seeks Town Council support for wetlands mitigation proposal

By Sam Bari

At Monday's Town Council, sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser asked the council to support the request for a special exception to the state Coastal Resources Management program for the wetlands mitigation proposal that is part of the new water treatment facility development plan.

Keiser requested that the council direct him to draft a letter to the CRMC asking for approval of the proposal as written by Fay, Spofford & Thorndike of Burlington, Mass., the engineering firm contracted by the town as consultants for the project.

According to the request for the special exception, "Late last year, George Gifford of the Gifford Design Group, Inc. of Cumberland, the landscape architects and wetlands biologists subcontracted by FST for the project, Don Bunker of FST, and Steve Goslee of the Town of Jamestown met on the site of the existing treatment plant to discuss the most appropriate location for a new facility. Due to the extensive regulated wetlands on this property, the Department of Public Works storage yard was considered, located south of the existing building. However, upon further review of the site topography and flood (Federal Emergency Management Authority) map, Mr. Bunker recommended the new facility be placed northwest of the existing plant as far outside of the velocity flood zone as possible. All agreed this would be a better site, despite the need to alter freshwater wetlands."

The overview also said, "There is a small perimeter wetland associated with the subject wooded swamp that also falls within the development area. However, this perimeter wetland is already altered. It exists within the abovementioned maintained yard and storage area associated with the existing facility. Due to the nonnatural condition of the perimeter wetland, it is not included in the wetland mitigation calculation introduced in this narrative.

"Although the proposed alteration will result in a net reduction of wetland habitat area on Lot 1, the applicant proposes to create a new wetland area adjacent to the town's South Pond on lot 3. In accordance with RICRMP Section 130, this new wetland area will be twice the size of the proposed alteration on Lot 1. Accordingly, between the two sites, this project will result in a 100 percent increase in regulated wooded swamp, and a 140 percent increase in perimeter wetland."

During his oral request Monday night, Keiser referred to Gifford's identification of the area near South Pond that FST is recommending to restore the wetlands area. He said that he has every confidence in the plan, and with the council's support, the

CRMC will most likely approve the proposal and the construction of the proposed water treatment facility could begin without further delay.

Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said that although the town's Conservation Commission had expressed concerns about the FST proposal, she thought it merited Town Council support. "We have to work more closely with the commissions and committees that we form to advise us on these matters where we rely on expertise," she said. "If we involve them at the beginning, we'll be better prepared to make sound decisions, and by working together we can resolve differences as they arise," she said.

Commissioner Michael Schnack made a motion for the Town Council to direct the Town Administrator to draft a letter to the CRMC saying that the Town Council supports the plan for mitigating the wetlands area adjacent to South Pond as stated in the proposal prepared by FST. The motion was seconded and the commission approved the request with a 4-0 vote.

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