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Commission notes pool and propane tank near wetlands

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PEPPERELL — Peter Montesanti was all smiles at the conclusion of the Conservation Commission’s public hearing to review revised plans for an addition to his home and barn at 8 Nissitissitt Lane.

Montesanti faced stiff criticism from some board members at a previous meeting, when they learned from conservation administrator Ellen Fisher that both an above-ground pool and a large propane tank had been installed within the wetland buffer without their approval or knowledge.

The installation of the propane tank violated a permanent condition on the property that prohibits the storage of fuels within 100 feet of a wetland. Montesanti argued that permission was received from Town Hall to install the tank, just 18 feet from the wetland.

The pool, which was constructed without a permit according to Fisher, was situated just 12 feet from the wetland. The commissioners have taken a hard line in the past when it comes to homeowners installing pools that infringe on wetlands.

Fisher had also noted that a portion of the driveway also encroached on the wetland buffer, a “technical violation” but not one that would warrant tearing up the pavement.

“You’ll just have to come up with a better plan,” were the marching orders given by Chairman Robert Elliot to Montesanti at the previous meeting.

Montesanti returned to the commission with those detailed plans and measurements.

Commissioner Jeffrey Sauer said, “Since Mr. Montesanti has been here before, those things should have been more obvious to him than the average citizen.”

Fisher added that “permanent conditions to mitigate the effects of the violations” were likely necessary as well.

“If that’s what it takes to make it clear, then that’s what it takes,” said Sauer.

“We would never have approved these for 12 or 18 feet from the wetland,” explained Elliot. “If we’re going to allow this, how do we protect the wetlands?”

In approving an Order of Conditions to allow Montesanti to proceed with his projects, the commission stipulated that no further structures would be allowed within the 50-foot wetland buffer and that future replacement of the pool would require approval from the commission.

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