2008-05-29 / News

Conservation Commission recommends denial of development plan in Shores

By Michaela Kennedy

Conservation Commission Chairman Christopher Powell opened the panel's May 20 meeting with a discussion about a site visit some of the commissioners made to the Jamestown Shores area the previous week. Board members agreed that more attention should be brought to the cumulative impact of development in high groundwater areas.

The Conservation Commission voted unanimously to recommend against a new construction plan that would require relief from wetlands setback requirements. Powell said that the Planning Commission asked the conservation board to review the development plan application from a wetlands perspective. He noted "major drainage issues up there," but emphasized that the board's expertise did not include runoff calculations.

The board discussed the service and ecological benefit a wetlands area provides. Commissioners agreed that cumulative impact was a problem. Commissioner Carol Trocki showed concern with the design's close proximity to the coastal wetlands. She also showed concern that drainage might not be effective.

"Is there a way to rearrange the lot to accommodate more separation?" Powell asked.

Powell said comments written by the town engineer reflected concern about drainage.

"You're talking about a good four feet of fill," he said. "We can say we have concerns about drainage, but we can't evaluate it because we are not engineers."

Town Council liaison Barbara Szepatowski suggested finding an engineer that would come in and talk about the newly-engineered drainage systems. She also suggested moving the well into the right-of-way to accommodate the distance needed from the wetlands.

Charlotte Zarlengo of Seaside Drive said that the owners already had a variance from the Department of Environmental Management for 22-feet from the road, where 50-feet is required. "Variances are given out like candy in this state and in this town," she said. She also pointed out that the high groundwater ordinance requires that well and ISDS are on same property, to stop people from putting wells in rights-of-way. "It won't be long before we have salt water intrusion," she added.

Susan Gorelick, a property owner to the north, objected to the Hayes' development plan and told the commission that the neighborhood could not afford to make exceptions. She explained the history of her own home. "My house should not have been built. It literally sits on the wetlands," she explained. "Three- quarters of the road in front of my driveway is a sheet of ice in the winter. Without that house being built, we already have these problems."

She also objected to the size of the proposed house. Even though the number of bedrooms was reduced from four to two, the square footage of the design was ultimately bigger, she said, adding, "We have a high water table, groundwater, and wetlands. It's really serious."

In a discussion about the osprey platform plan at the Great Creek marsh, commission members suggested moving the platform back to place parking where mitigated wetlands are located rather than disturb a natural wetlands site for parking.

The board agreed to send a memo to the Town Council listing objections to the parking and platform proposal, mainly because it is an expansion of footprint resulting in unnecessary impact on undisturbed areas.

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