New England Power Gets Go Ahead, Fairmount Gets a Final Deadline, and more at Con Comm


Above, Conservation Agent Breeka Li Goodlander and Chair William Batchelor.

The Franklin Conservation Commission had their last meeting of May on the 26th, with chair William Batchelor leading.

The first public hearing with New England Power Company, back again to discuss their pit maintenance project designed to test to condition of the portions of their wooden transmission poles buried underground. The inspection is a regular maintenance on a ten-year schedule where they'll inspect all of their wooden poles and it requires small explorations around the wooden poles to inspect for them. The applicant was looking for a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) to see if any permitting would be requested. The commissioners and conservation agent had raised some questions and NEP responded with a letter on May 10. Conservation Agent Breeka Li Goodlander said she was satisfied with the response which delineated how much land would be disturbed, how deep excavations would be, the presence or absence of standing water, and that most access would be on foot.

“I am fine with recommending a negative determination,” she said [meaning the work could proceed] but asked that that be conditioned on her being informed of progress of the work so that she could make an onsite inspection.

The commissioners had no further questions and voted to close the hearing and then approve a negative determination with several conditions as recommended by the Conservation Agent.

The next hearing was a Notice of Intent (NOI) for 585 King St. continued from May 12. The representatives of Marcus Partners, the developer of the proposed warehouse, participating remotely, acknowledged that written responses still had not been delivered to the Commission “but will be” and asked whether it would be possible to share some information about the project. Chair Batchelor pointed out that without the written material, the Commission could take no actions, but agreed reluctantly to view a “shared screen.” However, the sharing process glitched and the voice and video with the applicant was lost. After several minutes of waiting, Batchelor stated that the matter was going to be continued to June 9 in any case, and asked the commission to move to the next agenda item.

..which was, an NOI for 839 Upper Union Street, continued from a previous meeting. Member Andrew Mazzuchelli recused himself. The applicant reviewed the answers that had been provided to previous concerns, mostly about stormwater handling. All questions were ultimately answered to the satisfaction of the Commission, which voted to close the hearing and then voted to approve the NOI.

A solar farm site, 1061 Upper Union Street CE159-1198-OOC, was seeking an extension on their permitted activity. The commission voted unanimously to grant the request.

The SNETT Tunnel under Prospect Street CE159-1208 was also discussed. The Conservation Agent indicated that she had visited the site and saw no issue requiring Con Comm oversight.

The Commission then moved to discuss a request for an extension on an enforcement action with Fairmount Fruit Farm. The applicant’s representative indicated that the information for requesting the extension had not been provided to the commission yet due to complex development and asked to share his screen so that he could explain. However, Batchelor was having none of it and told him not to waste his time or that of the Commission because nothing could be done without properly filed information.

Batchelor then said, “I am going to rule as follows--any and all material regarding the enforcement order for Fairmount farms, the in the hands of the Franklin Conservation agents and officers no later than next Thursday, June 2. If that date is missed, I am asking the Conservation Agent to get an email out to the commissioners such that we may take punitive action regarding the violation.” Without discussion, the commission voted to approve that action.

The balance of the meeting touched on whether Con Comm members whose terms are expiring which to be reappointed (all did) and a post mortem discussion of the Earth Day event held at Del Carte.

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