SHIRLEY — The Conservation Commission dispatched a full agenda at its bi-monthly meeting, including two hearings with decidedly different outcomes.
With two RDAs (“requests for data applications) on the table, commissioners gave a go-ahead to one proposed project but stopped the other in its tracks.
The first — presented by Civil Engineer Nicholas Pauling of the firm Goldsmith Prest and Ringwall, or GPR — sought to construct a single-family home at 24 Windsor Road, one of the remaining lots in Apple Orchard Estates.
An upscale residential subdivision off Lancaster Road that is not fully built out after more than a decade, Apple Orchards has been plagued with problems since its launch. The permit process took several years.
Located on the site of a former orchard, the owner/developer, Steve Goodman, had to remediate tons of toxic soil before the first phase could begin. Subsequent challenges ranged from project oversight to drainage issues later on.
Now, the developer wants to build on as many of the remaining lots as possible, including Lot 51, or 24 Windsor Road.
With a previously approved site plan and an architectural design for the house ready to go and a deadline-dependent agreement signed with the buyer, the builder wants to get started as soon as possible, Pauling explained, hopefully addressing wetlands protection issues via Orders of Conditions issued in 2004.
But the commissioners, concerned about what they had seen — and not seen — on a recent site walk, ruled out that idea, agreeing that the OOC document the proponents — Pauling and Leif Ronaldson, of CRE Management — had in hand was too outdated to stand.
Conservation agent Nadia Madden said there were no trees on the site now, but plans call for planting shrubs and trees. The wetlands area was not flagged, she said.
Acknowledging that the site looked different now than it did 11 years ago, Pauling said he had revised plans ready, “if you are willing to accept them.”
Before work starts at the site, arsenic-contaminated topsoil will be removed and trucked to a designated vacant lot elsewhere in the subdivision. The closest “encroachment” on wetlands is within the required 50 feet.
But without flags to mark it, commissioners can’t see that, Chairman Nancy Askin said.
Another commissioner said he’d seen “huge piles of fill” at the site and without markers to go by, he couldn’t tell how close they were to wetlands and resource areas.
All things considered, the commissioners agreed the project as presented didn’t meet the standards for an RDA and they were leaning toward requiring a NOI, or “notice of intent.”
Attorney Cabral, representing the proponents, suggested a continuation instead, allowing time for his clients to put up the flags and schedule another site walk.
Commissioner Bob Berkhardt said he’d still vote for the NOI.
Which was where things stood when the hearing concluded.
“Unfortunately, we’ll probably lose the contract” to build on the property, Ronaldson said, as he and Pauling rolled up their plans and left.
New Beach Okayed
The second hearing — an RDA for a beach makeover at 8 Oaks Landing on Lake Shirley — had a better outcome for proponents Steve Marsden of Marsden Engineering and excavating contractor Dan Proctor. But making the case was an uphill climb for them, too.
The proposed work would remove and replace old “dirty” sand on the homeowner’s beach with clean sand and stone, they said, with “filter strips” installed at the water line to mitigate runoff.
The plan also called for new sods in front of the house, with a silt fence in place during construction. Marsden said he had done “similar work” on surrounding lots.
“We’re improving it,” he said.
But Berkhardt didn’t think so. He opposed replacing existing soil with washed sand, which is “hostile to growth,” he said.
Positing that projects like this could turn a lake into a swimming pool, Berkhardt said it makes more sense, environmentally, to have a vegetated strip between sand and water. “That’s what we’re looking for here,” he said.
Other commissioners did not agree. Reasoning that a beach is a beach, they basically said that replacing old, gritty sand with new, softer sand, as proposed, and with attached conditions to protect the lake, was no big deal in their view.
They settled on a “negative RDA,” which was the necessary outcome for the project to move forward. The vote was three to one in favor. Berkhardt voted no.