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Conservation Commission Minutes 1/21/10
Becket Conservation Commission
         The Meeting is called to order at 6:32 PM.
Commissioners Present: Purr McEwen, Chair; Vice Chair; Kathy Vsetecka, Commissioner and Agent; Bud Moylan; Marty Winters; Nina Weiler

Members Absent, Scott Morley Vice Chair, Richard Pryor

  • 1.     Approval of the minutes of the December 17, 2009 meeting.
  •        Kathy did a few corrections.
  •         Bud motioned to approve, Marty seconded all approved. Nina and Purr abstained.
2   2.     Request for Determination of Applicability CSX Transportation Inc. CSX Right- of –wa        way  for  approval for boundaries of resource areas for vegetation management
Kathy contacted them.  Maps from 1990 were used but not discernable.  She emailed them requesting permission to enter the property to look for markers and ride the rails. Owners agreed to a continuance to the April Meeting.
Kathy motioned to continue the meeting to the April Meeting with consent of applicant, seconded by Purr, all in approval.
3.    Discussion of Becket Wood alleged violation
Mr. Gary O’Brien and Sgt Amati present.  This is an informational meeting because an anonymous person claimed that a silt pond in Becket Woods had an excavator go through the ice and subsequently pulled out with other heavy equipment.  Mr. O’Brien said he did several jobs for residents in Becket Woods in the past, primarily tree work as well as some drainage work.  The property in question is owned by Eleanor Thomas and Cynthia O’Neill. Mr. O’Brien admitted there was an excavator there in November where he was doing tree work on the property because of previous storm damage.  He claimed not to be working in the pond or any jurisdictional areas that he knows of.  A track broke on his machine and needed to be pulled out and that it was approximately 150 to 200 feet away from the pond. The BVW above and below the pond he was not aware of but he states he was alongside the house.  Mr. Mark Stinson, Circuit Rider for DEP, provided a GIS map to pinpoint the area. Sgt Amati said he had also received the complaint and left a message for the landowner but never heard back.  He was on the site but no one was home however, he saw the ice over the pond but didn’t see any sign of activity other than human tracks. He was there about 10 days after the original call and there was fresh snow and the pond was iced over so a determination of any damage could not be made.  He asked Mr. O’Brien the exact date he was there but Mr. O’Brien didn’t know.  He then questioned where Mr. O’Brien got his equipment. Mr. O’Brien replied that he has some of his own equipment and does his rentals from Pittsfield Land and Tractor (PLT).  The information Sgt Amati uncovered was that on Dec 18 a machine rented to Mr. O’Brien was stuck in a silt pond on this particular piece of property. On Dec 19 it was removed by a piece of equipment rented by Mr. O’Brien through PLT and presented a photo of a machine stuck in a silt pond surrounded by BVW making it a jurisdictional area. Sgt Amati spoke to a third party who spoke highly of Mr. O’Brien mentioning that an accident occurred which is why it was being towed out.  Sgt. Amati noted that a bobcat model 337, serial number 23461411 was rented from PLW between Dec 14 – Dec 30.   The vehicle was returned with stains and water levels consistent with a vehicle being stuck in silt pond.  Mr. O’Brien explained that the day this happened he wasn’t on the site nor had he personally returned the bobcat. The day this happened Rick Burdick, one of his employees, was on site and in charge of the operation working on the back side of the pond transferring brush.  He spun the machine around and got it stuck, then attempted to get it out. Mr. O’Brien stated he was not there the day they got the machine out and knew nothing of the incident.  Sgt Amati also stated  that at the site, a confidential party related that a Joe Perry, Chris Herlicky and Gary O’Brien were taking photos of the machine after it had been sunk. He concluded that as of right now, you have a piece of equipment that was rented to Mr. O’Brien which he was ultimately responsible for, on a piece of property that apparently would have required some form of permit issued through the Commission or DEP on the day of this alleged occurrence.  It was removed on the following day. Purr questioned the statements previously supplied by Mr. O’Brien.  He admitted he didn’t tell the truth under evidence.  Mr. O’Brien said he did not realize he was in any violation.  Purr pointed out that he was in a jurisdictional area and he admitted he knew he needed a permit. The second issue is what negative impacts occurred which cannot be assessed until spring. At this point Sgt Amati claimed that he has enough material to proceed with criminal charges.  He has spoken to the Commission who wants to handle it from their end which is fine with him. Purr presented the two issues to be considered: 1) work was being done in a jurisdictional area, regardless of the machine getting stuck and therefore a permit should have been obtained through Conservation. 2) what negative impacts were done to the wetlands which cannot be assessed until spring.  Sgt. Amati asked Mr. O’Brien what type of work was he hired to do on the property to which  Mr. O’Brien replied clearing brush in the back side of the pond, cutting the perimeter back 10-15’ from the pond.  The owners knew he needed a permit but he didn’t get it admitting it was his fault.  Kathy pointed out that the landowners are also responsible. Mr. O’Brien also admitted that the stream was crossed by the tractor to pick up brush and bring it back over and that is when the machine got stuck.  The debris was targeted for a chipper in the driveway.  Violations include working in buffer zone, in two resources areas and crossing a stream. Sgt. Amati requested to be included during the site visit with Mr. O’Brien making a similar request.  Sgt Amati also requested a copy of the minutes as well as a list of who was present at the meeting.  The Enforcement Order is pending investigation of the site and Mr. O’Brien was advised that this includes a cease and desist. Kathy also requested that Mr. O’Brien contact the landowners requesting written permission for a site visit.  
4.   Al Kirschner Discussion of Center Pond Aquatic Control
     Mr. Kirschner summarized: during the summer they applied for a three year extension of a prior permit that was extended for three years through 2012.  Since then several things changed from the original application submitted in 2003.  He requested guidance as to what changed significantly so that the extension could only be for one year.  He is here to learn if a change to the existing permit is permissible or will it be required for a new NOI to be submitted.   Purr explained that the original OOC had specific years assigned which the commission realized they were in error to extend.  Another complication was that the original OOC was in 2003 and since then new guidance rules came out. A third issue is that the town was also an applicant and has since then requested to be removed.  The applicant is still Center Pond Preservation and Protection Foundation. Purr questioned if the weeds could be controlled through hand pulling because than only an RDA would be required.  Kathy suggested they could ask for an amended order; ask for another extension though she felt that because of the condition stating specific years--2005, 2006, 2007-- this would be limiting; another option is to refile completely; or not refile and control through hand pulling. It was explained that he is currently covered throughout 2010. If in 2011 he needs chemical treatment, he could exercise the options previously mentioned. Mr. Stinson, defined the meaning of “amended”.  According to policy, an amended order should not be issued where there are additional resource area impacts or significant change in the original plan, a new NOI is appropriate. Mr. Kirshner said that to get a grant from the state, the town needed to be included in the filing. To have them removed, it was suggested that Town Council be consulted. It was agreed that requesting an extension was not the only option for Mr. Kirschner, but that the original OOC could indeed be amended. Mr. Kirschner wanted to know what areas in the NOI were deficient and needed to be addressed.  It was recommended the Mr. Kirschner consult with Mr. Bellaud of Aquatic Control.  Mr. Stinson explained that the Commission shouldn’t be making an answer on the amendment because that is a more formal process. A Request for an Extension should be made 30 days prior so the Commission could give an answer tonight on whether or not they want to extend or they can request more information prior to making any decision. At this time no formal Request for Extension has been submitted but it can be a verbal request and this does not need to be posted.  Purr suggested that when the spring survey results are submitted, then at that time a Request for Extension be entertained.  Mr. Stinson pointed out that prior to the order being extended, it must first be amended. Purr wants to table the discussion and schedule time with Mr. Stinson, show him the original OOC and get advice on the amendment process. Mr. Kirschner and Mr. Bellaud could be included.  Mr. Kirschner asked if suction harvesting, another way of weed pulling, could be considered the same as hand pulling.  Mercedes Gallagher explained that it is basically a barge that has a suction hose that brings everything up.  Divers still have to pull the root, wrap the plant she believes, then sent up the tube where it gets dewatered and eventually brought to shore. The Commission wants to conduct further research prior to making any determination. After considerable discussion reiterating previous discussions, Mr. Stinson recommended Mr. Kirschner look up the policy on how to amend an OOC.

5.   Administrative Business
The report on the drawdown of Palmer Brook is in the file.
The survey on Center Pond is also available.
     Kathy motioned to adjourned, seconded by Marty all in favor Meeting adjourned 8:15.

        Respectfully Submitted,
     Martie Martin, Recorder

Purr McEwen, Chair Date

Scott Morley, Vice Chair Date

Kathy Vsetecka, Commissioner/Agent Date

Bud Moylan, Commissioner Date

Richard Pryor, Commissioner Date,

Marty Winters, Commissioner Date

Nina Weiler, Commissioner Date

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