Con Comm – July 21 Meeting Was Preview for This Thursday’s Agenda


Above, a simplified diagram of the town's "Beaver Street Interceptor" project.

As is often the case with town boards, some matters come up again and again, either because they are complex or because of other reasons. The July 21 meeting of the Conservation Commission included a return of the applicants for 585 King Street, still looking for the nod for plans to build a large warehouse but hemmed in by wetland regulations which leave fewer options for site access and development.

That matter was continued, as was the town’s first appearance as an applicant for Franklin’s “Big Dig” – the replacement of the century-old Beaver Street Sewer Interceptor, which, its name notwithstanding, involves construction activities from near the base of Pond Street and “across 495” back to the vicinity of Union and Cottage Street. To say there are a substantial number of potential environmental concerns would be an understatement but by comparison with the existing structure, which runs along the path of the MBTA tracks and only feet from Mine Brook, the issues are miniscule.

The July 21 hearing was heavy on technical discussions and the Commissioners getting familiar with the many features of the large project. But, by no means were they done learning. So, those discussions will continue Thursday.

Also on the agenda, again, is the enforcement matter involving 305 Union Street, where improperly licensed contractors allowed a quantity of asbestos-containing material to fall into a cistern full of water that may or may not flow into neighboring wetlands, depending upon whose opinion one believes.

The Commission as a whole and Conservation Agent Breeka Li Goodlander have repeatedly expressed frustration with what they view as a lack of cooperation from the owner. Yet, on multiple occasions the Commission has stayed enforcement actions on the promise of better behavior. The July 21 meeting was to have included a presentation of long-delayed information but, it so happens, the owner’s attorney took ill with Covid – thus the presentation now scheduled for Thursday in the Enforcement portion of the agenda.

The applicant did deliver some requested documentation just before the last meeting but not within the timeframe required to permit full review by the Commission. But Goodlander summarized her reading of it, noting that there was some data on test samples from the cistern and an admission that the system is “open” – in other words that it flows into neighboring wetlands. But, she noted, nothing had been verified to the satisfaction of the DPW and that concerns expressed by the state DEP may not have been addressed.

With that glimmer of progress before them the Commission voted to once again extend the matter to August 4. But Chair Patrick Gallagher vowed, if the needed answers were not forthcoming nor satisfactory as of the fourth, he would not support any further extension of the matter.

And so it stands.

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