The development of Chebacco Woods is still pending.
On June 23, the Hamilton Conservation Commission continued applications to determine applicability for development readiness work until July 14, pending further information.
“Knowing the impact of the whole project is essential,” said Commissioner Lauren Lynch, who chaired the debates in the absence of President Richard Luongo. “It’s hard to pinpoint the small pieces of the project. “
“I would like to take a closer look at this issue,” added Mary Lester, member of the Conservation Commission.
Developers Chebacco Hills Capital Partners have filed 3 RDAs:
- Use the exit logging road crossing jurisdictional areas and install temporary steel plates over an intermittent watercourse.
- To conduct directional drilling under jurisdictional wetlands for the purpose of installing a sewer line.
- To extend a water pipe within the paved surface of Chebacco Road along part of the frontage of 133 Essex Street.
It is also a question of determining the extent of the border vegetal wetlands, for which Chebacco Partners hired the consultant Michael DeRosa, of DeRosa Environmental Consulting and the former coordinator of the Conservation Commission Bert Comins.
Despite a June 16 letter from Chebacco Partners project manager Greg Hochmuth to Conservation Commission coordinator Brian Colleran:
On June 23, Hochmuch admitted he was still awaiting a final report from DeRosa.
Nonetheless, Hochmuch argued that the area in question is on private property, which it is, and “completely avoids wetlands.” We try to keep this away from the buffer zone. We are working very hard to keep the project out of the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission, which is very difficult in an area with so many wetlands ”, although he admitted that the intermittent stream is in the area. buffer.
This argument was echoed by Chebacco Partners lawyer Jill Mann.
“We are not in the wetlands,” she said. “The whole project does not fall under the competence of the Conservation Commission.
Virginia Cookson, a member of the Conservation Commission, replied: “If it’s in the buffer zone, it’s our responsibility.
She also said that the proposed access road crosses wetlands.
While arguments were made on the pros and cons of the proposed work, most of the discussion centered on the form in which requests should be made.
Deborah Eliason, the lawyer representing environmental activists Save Chebacco Trails and Watershed, said all RDAs should be lumped into one notice of intent under the state’s Wetlands Protection Act.
“RDAs are not suitable vehicles,” she said. “They do not require applicants to show all negative effects. RDAs are related and describe work that refers to a single project. You need to know how it all works together. The applicant has an obligation to prove that it will not cause harm. RDA does not provide this information. RDA does not require the same level of responsibility. An NOI is more complete when it looks at cumulative effects. When you look at each RDA in a vacuum, you do not understand this.
Save Chebacco’s environmental consultant, Mary Rimmer, advised to “consolidate all the work into one file. The demands overlap.
“We are asking for RDAs because we are not in wetlands,” Mann replied. “I don’t know why people think an NOI will change anything. We do not impact wetlands and will comply with RDAs to keep wetlands impact free. It is clear that we will have to stick to the plans that we submit.
Addressing the depth of review between an RDA and an NOI, she added, “We are transparent and present all information. Everyone is confused thinking that we are not trying to be transparent. Just tell us what you want and we’ll give it to you.
Discussions of the work itself consisted of questions about the scope of the proposed access road, the depth of the drilling, and aspects of the extension of the water pipe under Chebacco Road, centered primarily on the road. access.
“It makes sense to use the wooden road,” Hochmuth said. “It’s a stable road.
He also said though that “we don’t expect a lot of damage; it should look like it is today when the work is finished ”, the areas around the logging road will be reseeded if necessary.
“Stop calling it a road, this is a trail,” warned Hochmuth, a resident of John Cole. “It’s not a road; You know.”
“It’s a trail, not a road,” Anne Porter Jackman wrote in the chat accompanying the meeting.
Al DeGroot is skeptical.
“I hear claims that nothing can go wrong, which concerns me a lot,” he said. “It’s potentially impactful even though there are promises it won’t.”
Others asked why the Conservation Commission was considering a project that had not been approved by the Planning Council.
Mann replied, “We are in the process of filing a case with the Planning Council” and added: “These are not even impacts. “
Developer Larry Smith was listening, but didn’t speak.
The meeting got off to a rough start and was delayed for more than 30 minutes due to access issues. The access capacity of 800 people was not in effect. With a capacity of just 100 people, it was difficult for Cookson and Lester to connect to achieve quorum with Lynch and George Tarr. Other interested parties were also unable to connect.
A number of people have called for the company to be prosecuted due to lack of public access.
“Is it legal to have a meeting that people cannot attend?” Dave Lash asked.
“I don’t want to ask people to leave; it’s great that there is so much interest, ”said Lynch. “I think this will be the last meeting where we have to be completely virtual.”