Conservation Commission Remote Meeting

Monday, March 1, 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm
A meeting of the Conservation Commission

Conservation Commission Remote Meeting
Mon, Mar 1, 2021 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM (EST)

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Meeting of Conservation Commission

Members: (Quorum)

  • Remote: Andrew Young, at 6:59 PM
  • Remote: David Powicki, at 6:59 PM
  • Remote: Isaiah Robison, Chair, at 7:00 PM
  • Remote: Ralph Tiner, at 7:00 PM
  • Remote: Jono Neiger, at 7:02 PM
  • Remote: Gail Berrigan, at 7:05 PM
  • Remote: Joan Deely, at 6:59 PM

Also Present:

  • Tessa Dowling Conservation Agent (submitting minutes)
  • Margie McGinnis
  • Beth Wilson
  • Tom Hankinson
  • Patricia Duffy

See original Agenda * * * DRAFT Meeting Minutes * * *

Meeting opened: 7:02 PM

Meeting closed: 9:03 PM

  1. Meeting Preliminaries

  2. Public Hearing

    • 7:09: Amherst-Leverett Water Main DEP file # 200-0197 - Town of Amherst

      General Discussion...
      Beth Willson, the Amherst Wetlands Administrator, attended the meeting to represent the waterline project.
      The waterline will consist of approximately 2000 linear feet of twelve inch pipe laid along a portion of Cushman and Teawaddle Hill Rd. The waterline will connect to the Amherst water system. The pipe will be placed in a trench 6ft wide and 7ft deep. The trench will be back filled and repaved. It will be patched within a few days of being dug. A dewatering plan will be needed in case any of the trenches fill with water during construction. Water from the trenches will be filtered and can be discharged in uplands/outside of wetland jurisdictional areas.
      There will not be a stockpile of material left on the road and no new soil will be brought in. They will try and keep the road open to traffic.
      A 2-inch pipe will be drilled under a portion of Doolittle Brook by a subcontractor. The pipe will go in approximately 100ft from the bank of the Brook. The pipe will be below the stream bed so there will be no land under water impacts.
      Part of the area falls under Natural Heritage Priority Habitat. Natural Heritage requires that the project contractor is taught how to identify the species of concern and that a biologist be on call if a listed species appears on site. The Amherst DPW will write the plan to protect the listed species and include the name of the biologist who will be on call.
      Dowling screen shares the site plan page C5.
      Willson points out the erosion control to protect wetlands and buffer zones and that the erosion control goes around any fire hydrants. Willson also points out the junction where the pipe would connect to private properties. The waterline is placed in the road right of way, not on private properties, so pipes that connect from the houses to the waterline will be installed by individual landowners.
      The waterline project has not gone out to bid. Construction will be during low flow, likely the Fall of 2021.
      The Commission received the following answers to their questions:
      Q: Are there risks with drilling under the brook?
      A: The technology has been used successfully in other Amherst projects, especially by utilities. There are utility lines that run all the way under the CT River. If the drill hole collapsed the subcontractor would try in another location. Hanging the pipe under the bridge that goes over the brook requires insolation and still could be damaged due to freezing temperatures.
      Q: Does the project require a Clean Water Act 401 license?
      A: The project does not meet the threshold area to require a 401 application.
      Q: Is the project located in the flood zone?
      A: The project is outside the 100 year flood zone.

      The Commission decided on the following conditions for the project:
      1) The project contractor and/or subcontractor shall submit to the Leverett Conservation Commission a dewatering plan for trenched areas in the buffer zone and riverfront area in sufficient time (minimum of 48 hours) for review and approval before work begins.
      2) Dewatering from pipe trenches shall be discharged into upland areas, outside of wetland jurisdictional areas protected under the MA Wetlands Protection Act.
      3) The project contractor and/or subcontractor shall submit a construction plan for drilling and installation of piping under Doolittle Brook (Teawaddle Hill Rd) for timely review and approval by the Leverett Conservation Commission before work begins.
      4) The project contractor and/or subcontractor will advise the Leverett Conservation Commission when erosion control measures are in place to provide an opportunity for commissioners to visit the site to review and approve the erosion control within 24 hours prior to digging.
      5) The project contractor and/or subcontractor will remove erosion control measures no more than 14 days after trenched areas are refilled and road is patched with asphalt.
      6) Site work will be scheduled to avoid periods when heavy rains are predicted or occur.

      MOTION, moved by David Powicki, seconded by Joan Deely: to issue the Order of Conditions for the Amherst-Leverett Waterline project (DEP File # 200-0197). The special conditions for the project will be drafted by Dowling and reviewed by Berrigan.

      Pass: Aye: Isaiah Robison, David Powicki, Ralph Tiner, Gail Berrigan, Jono Neiger, Joan Deely. Not Present: Andrew Young.

  3. Administrative Matters

    • 7:51: Certificate of Compliance for 1(5) Amherst Rd DEP File # 200-0178

      General Discussion...
      A Request for Certificate of Compliance has come in for 1 Amherst Rd (also referred to as 5 Amherst Rd).
      The Chair has reached out to ask the landowner's to withdraw the request until the snow cover has melted so that the Commission can view the area described in the Order of Conditions (DEP File number 200-0178). The landowners agreed and Dowling will reach out when the snow has melted and vegetation is visible.

  4. Old Business

    • 7:56: Annual Report

      General Discussion...
      Tiner and Deely reviewed the Annual Report drafted by Dowling. Berrigan suggests that the report explain that meetings were remote for all of 2020. Dowling will make the minor edits suggested by the Commission members and will file the report.

    • 8:17: Vansteenberg Estate Gift

      General Discussion...
      Per Berrigan, Kestrel is likely be interested in a partnership to conserve land in Leverett and could give recommendations on parcels. There is also a more complete list of current conserved land in town that Berrigan will share with the Commission.

    • 8:57: Bill Rivers Management and General Conservation Land Management

      General Discussion...
      Dowling has been in touch with the DCR conservation restriction monitor regarding the boundary line between the Bill Rivers Conservation Area and the town highway department land. DCR is talking with their lawyers but they are likely going to request that the salting equipment and other debris be removed from the Conservation Area. DCR might finance the surveying of the property line in that area.
      The Commission discusses how they could learn the amount of people who are using the Bill Rivers trail network. They are interested in reviewing the Forest Management Plan and Dowling will resend it.
      The property could be used to model forest management techniques although there are concerns about access due to the steepness of the slope.
      Members discusses having a focused meeting later in April to specifically to talk about town land conservation and stewardship and include a discussion on how to use the Vansteenberg Estate Gift given to the Commission.

  5. New Business

    • 8:20: Communications with the Press Discussion

      General Discussion...
      A reporter from the Montague Reporter reached out to the Commission and asks questions of Dowling regarding the Leverett Pond Water Management Notice of Intent. Dowling asks the Commission how she should address press requests for comment in the future.
      Commission members suggest that Dowling direct a reporter to where they can read the meeting minutes and send them to the Commission Chair if they have specific questions.

      Commission members comment that it is hard to organize and prioritize all the information that has come in regarding the Leverett Pond Water Management project. The conversation can move away from what needs to be understood to permit the project. The Commission still has questions regarding the difference between the ecological restoration and recreation goals of the project. The Commission asks that 1) documents are organized in the Google Folder by the date that they were sent in whenever possible, and 2) that Dowling reach out to the Friends of Leverett Pond (FOLP) and ask that the original list of questions for the FOLP is answered with references to specific submitted files as a way to organize the information that has been received.
      Dowling reminds members that she can print documents at the town hall so that they do not have to use their own resources to print documents. The Commission also thinks that Mark Stinson (DEP) should be invited to the next Leverett Pond hearing.

  6. Other New Business not considered as of the date of this notice

    • 8:59: Trail Camera on Conservation Land

      General Discussion...
      Per Dowling, an email request has come in to place a trail camera on town conservation land to capture pictures of coyotes. The Commission would like to learn more information about the projects, specifically: where the camera will be put and ask to see any final report that comes from the project. Dowling will reach out to gain more details.

    • 9:01: MACC Conference

      General Discussion...
      Deely reminds the Commission to sign up for the remote MACC Conference. WPA funds can reimburse conference expenses.

  7. Meeting Wrap-up

The listing of matters is those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law.

Minutes prepared by Tessa Dowling (Conservation Agent)

Posted to: Conservation Commission