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ConsCom hears homeowners’ Sandy Pond Road flood woes


AYER — Appearing before the Ayer Conservation Commission last Thursday night were a dozen homeowners and the developer of new residences on Sandy Pond Road.

At issue is water that’s pooling upland from Sandy Pond along Sandy Pond Road. The neighbors sought relief in the form of a culvert across the road to channel surface water onto a lower-lying 12-acre parcel owned and offered by Ed Cornelier, so the water could settle and dissipate into the swampy areas aside Sandy Pond.

Cornelier pondered whether the Fox Run area of Pingry Hill development and the new PanAm auto transfer facility have increased surface runoff onto the affected neighbors’ land that he’d sold over the years for the residential development, off and along Sandy Pond Road. “Whatever,” he said, “We’ve never seen water levels like this,” though he’s lived in the area for some 60 years.

Cornelier and developer John Giamo appealed for ConsCom support for a culvert under the roadway. Giamo’s homes along Patriot Way were built about 14 inches above what engineers had suggested, Cornelier said, but still the new homes have taken on water.

Conservation Commission Administrator Becky DaSilva and Chairman Bill Daniels walked the affected areas. Options include directional drilling under the pavement or a total cut through fresh tar to lay a new drainage pipe. Problems include underground water and gas lines, however, in addition to the road cut. “I’m assuming it would be crazy money,” said Daniels.

Daniels pointed the group to clear a state tier first with design plans in hand, a delay that was not palatable to Cornelier. “It is an immediate emergency. Before engineering, we wanted to get your support.”

At issue it seems, however, is the end point for the water, and its likely location in an area flagged as a habitat for endangered species, including concerns over the Blanding’s turtle. The first step will be seeking a green light from Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program office of the Divisions of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westborough.

Of the more involved time, process and paperwork, “You would suffer through their jurisdiction,” Daniels said. “It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t approve it. It just means you have to go through it.”

“We were looking for a speedy process,” rued Cornelier, “as soon as you start mentioning the MEPAs and EPAs, it’s more hoops.”