Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why we not have?????? Simsbury, Conn., has commission to protect wetland, watershed

Conservation Commission - 09/07/04


Chairman Howard Beach, Jr. called the Meeting of the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetland and Watercourse Agency to order at 7:30 P.M. in the Main Meeting Room at Simsbury Town Hall. The following members were present: Margery Winters, Richard Miller, William Nowak, Thomas Sharpless, Christopher Ursini, and Andrew Bucknam.



A. Application of Kevin and Mary Jo Crimmins, Owners, for an Inland Wetland Permit to construct a one-car garage within the regulated area on property at 32 Walker Drive.

Mr. Kevin Crimmins was present to address the board. They wish to construct a 16-foot one-car garage addition within the 100-foot upland review area. The structure will be approximately 45 feet from the watercourse, and they are proposing installing silt fencing during construction and stabilize with seed upon completion. They propose doing this in October or in the spring. Mr. Crimmins was also before the board in June for the approval of a pool.

Chairman Beach asked about the level of the area. Mr. Crimmins stated that the area is very level. They might have to raise the floor a few inches to match the level of the other floor, but will not change the grade at all.

Chairman Beach asked about material being used. Mr. Crimmins said that they will be digging up topsoil, which he will then use in other parts of the yard to even out.

Chairman Beach asked about the change to the driveway with this addition. Mr. Crimmins stated they will be adding an apron only.

Commissioner Bucknam asked if the watercourse would be described as a low area that gets wet or is there any kind of a stream. Mr. Crimmins answered that it was a low area 20 years ago, when the property next door added a garage and buried the section between the two properties from the road back about 60-80 feet. There is no wetland that is exposed. It is a depression in the ground that is wet in the spring and wet after a heavy rain.

Commissioner Nowak commented that the disturbance then consists primarily of digging a footing a putting a foundation on top of that.

Commissioner Nowak asked why this wasn’t proposed in July with the proposal for the swimming pool. Mr. Crimmins answered that they weren’t sure if they could afford to do both projects.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that this is a regulated activity by reason of removal of material from the construction site in the upland review area.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that this is a significant activity, by reason that the activity has potential to cause siltation to a wetland.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that a public hearing is not required, as there has not been any indication of public interest.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless to grant a permit for the proposed activity with the understanding that town be notified at least 3 days before the proposed activity is to commence so someone can check out the site before the digging can commence.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.


A. Application of Ensign –Bickford Realty Corporation for an Inland Wetland Permit for regulated activities associated with the proposed development of 182 homes within the Powder Forest at Bushy Hill and Stratton Brook Road. (continued from 7/20/04 meeting)

Mr. Donahue was present to address the Commission and introduce the presenters.
He stated that along with permits from the Wetland Commission, they are seeking permits from other boards; a zone change to allow a village cluster, a subdivision of the parcel into a single parcel, and site plan approval. On September 20, 2004, there will be a joint public hearing on this application with zoning and planning. Since last before the commission, they have received enthusiastic approval for the plan from the design-review board.

Michael Klein presented the wildlife corridor information.
Both flora and fauna at the site were looked at, and they identified no state-listed species present. The site has the potential to support and does support some forest interior birds.

Time was spent looking at the reptile and amphibian populations at the site because a report through the natural diversity database found eastern box turtle in the area in addition to the presence or absence of mole salamanders and wood frogs, considered vernal pool indicators. He explained that since the natural diversity database showed evidence of box turtle in the area, a visual search was done, but none were found. There are some isolated repressional wetlands on the site. They did not find any box turtles or mole salamanders at the site. The cluster of the three wetlands supported nothing in the way of frogs and salamanders. The semi-permanent pond does support wood frogs and although they are listed as a vernal pool indicator species, they also breed in many other places. He noted that as for the larger mammals, this patch of habitat is not large enough to support the more wide ranging species like bobcat.

A function and value assessment, broken down in three areas, was done for the wetland. The cluster of small depressional wetland areas is considered low to moderate in quality value. The large significant 12-½ acre wetland area is considered moderate- to high-value quality, however it is not considered high quality fish habitat. The semi-permanent pool does provide amphibian-breeding habitat, and it is valued as moderate-quality value.

Mr. Klein stated that in essence there are indirect impacts to the site, which are related to either construction, or the long-term change in land use of the site. He also noted that there is extensive use of best-management and low-impact development practices that have been incorporated into the plans. For example, rather than a traditional centralized stormwater collection and management system, they have a stormwater management system whereby 15 separate water disbursement areas are used to minimize the use of collection systems to get the water into the ground. The indirect impact to the wildlife habitat will be minimized by limiting development in the vicinity of the semi-permanent pond. Per a recommendation by the commission, they will be removing some of the silt fencing to allow migration coming in and out of the pond.

On the plans, he showed the open space on the site, surrounding properties, and locations of buffer zones for access into and out of the wetland system. He stated that the main concern during the site walk seemed to be with how the larger mammals (deer, bobcat, and bears) will access the space. He showed on the plan where the linkages are so that these mammals are able to move through.

Chairman Beach praised Mr. Klein on his effective job of giving a predevelopment evaluation of the three wetland areas. He asked if Mr. Klein could sum up the postdevelopment value of the wetland, in terms of general wildlife. He also asked him to address the apparent fragmentation of the areas. Mr. Klein explained that the functional evaluation methods are not designed as an impact assessment tool, they are designed as a resource tool. He did say that roads do not deter larger mammals, and that he does not see a dramatic alteration of the wetland-dependant wildlife. Mr. Klein said they try to focus on species of conservation concern as opposed to those that are fairly common.
Chairman Beach noted that other species should be focused on as well, lest they also become species of concern.

Chairman Beach complemented the applicant on the systems put in place (stormwater catch basins, swales etc.) to keep the nutrients away from Hazel Meadow Pond. He likes the fact that they provide swales for bio-remediation.

There was a discussion surrounding the vernal pool and the plants currently growing around it. Mr. Klein stated that hydrologically it is a semi-permanent pond, but it has some vernal pool-like functions in that it provides breeding habitat for wood frogs.

Chairman Beach discussed the bio-diversity study, stating it shows about what the commission is concerned and asked if the walking trail near the vernal pool could be moved. Mr. Ferrero stated that it is an existing path.

Commissioner Miller asked about the invasive plantings. Mr. Klein said the fragmites, which are near the wetland, could cause much damage to it, and will be cut out and the area and the area mowed. The tree of heaven will receive two applications of non-invasive, hand-applied herbicide to remove it. The herbicide will be applied during a non-windy day so as to have minimal drift potential.

The commission voiced concern regarding the closeness of Hazel Meadow Pond and unit/lawn development along its boundary. Chairman Beach asked if there will be enough bio-remediation in the swale to neutralize nutrients in the water before being introduced into the brook, what with the number of units that back up to the area. He also wanted to know about the turf-management system being used. Mr. Ferrero said that it is a small watershed because all of the roots are being removed, and he believes that the swale will be high enough. Mr. Klein stated that he doesn’t anticipate that any products will be used within the swales themselves. Mr. Donahue explained that one company will manage the units’ yards and therefore they will not have the owners themselves caring for the yards/grass.

Chairman Beach asked about the distance between the cutting line and the property line. It was explained that there is a 40-foot building setback and the swale is within that 40 feet.
Chairman Beach said that even small amounts of nutrients can devastate the ecosystem, and asked if there could be a 75- to100-foot no-cut zone beyond the property line since there is very little vegetation around the area. Mr. Ferrero stated that they are not encroaching upon the 100-foot buffer zone within Hazel Meadow Pond.

Commissioner Nowak asked about the wildlife corridor to the west side on Bushy Hill. He asked where the wildlife corridor would be for smaller wildlife such as turkeys, etc.
Mr. Klein answered that the area near Bushy Hill is residential development and that, if small wildlife can move through that area, they will be able to move through the corridor Mr. Nowak speaks about. He stated that it is surprising how tolerant many of the species have become. Mr. Nowak stated that the proposed units are much closer together (18-25 feet apart) than the 1+ acre residential houses where it is easier for animals to navigate. Mr. Klein answered that the property provides more open space. Chairman Beach noted that most of the open space is wetland and couldn’t be built on anyway.

Commissioner Miller asked if the wildlife corridor could be opened up more along Stratton Brook road. A discussion about that ensued.

Chairman Beach asked about possible space available along the road for bio-remediation to reduce the development by 75 feet. Mr. Ferrero said that they don’t want to clear so much vegetation along the road that it opens up a view to and from those units. Chairman Beach applauded their decision to include a buffer along Stratton Brook, but said that, if there were one or two spots, it would help with the hydraulic plan. Commissioner Bucknam said that. if the path is lowered to 80’or 60’ from 100' there will not be much room for wildlife refuge. Mr. Merriam stated that it would be virtually impossible to relocate it.

Commissioner Nowak asked about plantings, and Mr. Ferrero stated they do not currently have a landscape plan, but do know that it will include indigenous species.

Commissioner Miller asked about slope stabilization measures being taken. Mr. Ferrero explained they have gravel slopes. They will rough cut some slopes, stabilize them with erosion control mats and reforest them with Mr. Klein’s help.

Chairman Beach asked about retaining walls. Mr. Ferrero said they will not be using mass retaining walls anywhere on the site, but there are a number of walkout basements. It will be up to the owner whether they wish to have slopes or build 4- to 5-foot high retaining walls instead. On one main slope they proposed building a wall, but it would have been a 6-foot wall, which would be monstrous.

Based on the discussion so far, Mr. Merriam summarized 5 conditions of approval.
No individual application of herbicides and pesticides by the homeowners. One company will do the lawn maintenance of each unit.
A post-construction site visit by the commission.
Come back with a best-management practices plan using organic materials.
Field markings on the site at sensitive areas/points. These markings indicate that, if materials are applied to that site, they could be damaging to the wetland system.
A 2- to 3-year ongoing post-construction monitoring plan implemented, that would take samples of run off and come back and report to the commission. If there are problems, corrective action will be taken.

Chairman Beach asked if there were some kind of performance bond associated with the post-construction monitoring. Mr. Merriam stated that a bond is a good idea and that, if the commission wishes this, the applicant will look into it.

Chairman Beach asked if the post-construction monitoring could go on for 5 years instead of 2 or 3. Mr. Merriam said that, by monitoring the surface runoff, they will know fairly quickly if any material is getting off the site, and said 3 years seems appropriate.
Chairman Beach said three years is a good timeline.

Mr. Donahue confirmed that the streets are private, and will be maintained by a private company. Chairman Beach said he hopes sump-pump issues are covered by the monitoring and maintenance plan.

Commissioner Miller was concerned about Hazel Meadow Pond and if it could be restored even though the applicant is not “responsible” for it.

Mr. Donahue stated that, as part of the land-use process, the applicant is putting out a revised master plan for the site, which identifies the place reserved for Dyno Nobel, and any other site available. It will show what is allowed and what is likely in the future to come forward to zoning.

Commissioner Winters asked if a wildlife corridor section could be widened a bit. Mr. Ferrero said they could look into that.

At this point in the meeting, Chairman Beach closed the public hearing, since no one was present to speak on the issue. Commissioner Sharpless moved to close the public hearing. Commissioner Bucknam seconded with all in favor.

Commissioner Sharpless stated there should be a good monitoring plan established, and the commission should be specific about what they want to see being monitored.

Chairman Beach said he is concerned about the possibility of nutrient impact on Hazel Meadow, which is a separate issue. Within the site itself, he is concerned about any evidence of nutrient loading in the second brook. A question was asked of how the water going into Hazel Meadow would be monitored. There was a discussion about how the commission could monitor the Hazel Meadow. Mr. Donahue said that they would seek permission on behalf of the commission to get a sample of the Pond if they so desired.

The Commission concluded that as part of the monitoring plan they would look for nitrate, phosphate, chloride, and vod. Apart from the wetland area they will also monitor road water, storm salts/sand, and stormwater discharge, and sump pumps. This will be monitored for a period of three years, and a performance bond will be issued. Fertilizer will be included in the best-management plan. Also, some of the specified units should be spaced farther apart.

For the next meeting, Mr. Merriam will draw up the monitoring plan, etc., for the next meeting, and will bring in the information Commissioner Miller wanted on the field markings.

A motion was made by Commissioner Ursini to continue this application at the next meeting; it was seconded by Commissioner Miller with all in favor.

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