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Welcome to the Town of Chilmark, MA
Conservation Commission Minutes 09/19/12
Present for the Conservation Commission and attending the meeting were:  Pam Goff, Chairman, Sandy Broyard, Vice Chairman, Donald Poole, Wesley Cottle, Joan Malkin and Chuck Hodgkinson.  George Sourati, Seth Wilkinson, Doug Dowling, Tom Langman, Ellen Kaplan, Andy Goldman, Leo Desorcy and Debra Lesser also attended.  Caitlin Jones was absent.  

The meeting came to order at 12:30 PM.  The site visits for the day’s agenda were made on September 18.  

CONTINUED HEARING NOI SE -12 – 659; GEORGE SOURATI FOR GRIN ACRES FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP; 15 Nickerson Farm Lane; AP 21-10, 12, 13:      Ms. Goff confirmed that all five commissioners are eligible voters for this application and opened the continued hearing at 12:42 PM.  A letter from Ben Wolkowitz dated 9/10/12 was read for the record.  A second letter was delivered by Ms. Kaplan from Arlene Wilson was also read for the record.  

Mr. Sourati addressed Ms. Wilson’s letter.  He first stated for the record that Ms. Wilson may have a conflict of interest because he had consulted with Ms. Wilson for other work on 8 Greenhouse Lane.  Ms. Goff stated that any conflict was a matter between Mr. Sourati (and his client) and Ms. Wilson.  He continued by stating the content of Ms. Wilson’s letter is either incorrect or has been previously and satisfactorily addressed by him, Mr. Wilkinson or Mr. Shawl -- the wetland scientist who delineated the wetland edges and addressed the Commission’s concerns in the previous hearing—which Ms. Wilson did not attend.  

Mr. Sourati said he has never formally asked for a Variance in his many years of working with the Commission but, would like to request one at this time – if necessary.  The Commission confirmed that it has never received formal requests for a variance.  It reviews projects and applications, evaluates the benefits and detriments to the resources involved, mitigates reasonable compromise and approves plans with special conditions if appropriate.  Projects are denied if the proposed activity will have a significant adverse or significant adverse cumulative effect on the resource.  

Ms. Kaplan commented the 2009 site plan that requested a new well indicated the wetland was on both sides of the driveway that Mr. Sourati would like to improve.        Mr. Sourati responded by stating Mr. Shawl inspected the entire driveway and could not find a culvert – abandoned or crushed – anywhere along the drive.

Ms. Goff stated that the Commission determines the impact of a project on the resource(s) protected by the Bylaws and that, in this case, the resource characterization -- such as whether the stream is intermittent or perennial -- will not change the impact of the activity on that resource or the interests of the Act.  In all cases the Commission decides if the affected resources will continue to function as they are supposed to and whether  the wildlife habitat adequately protected.

Mr. Wilkinson stated that his proposed vegetation plan would not change if the stream were perennial or intermittent.

The Commission summarized that it seems the neighbors are saying they do not want to change the character of the area from what’s there now to a meadow of native vegetation.  Mr. Wilkinson added the meadow and vegetation plan will improve the habitat because it will support more valuable wildlife than what’s currently growing with invasive species.

Mr. Wilkinson again reviewed the changes to the original proposal that were summarized in the September 5th narrative.  The three-year progressive mowing plan is a mechanical way to eradicate the invasive species.  This was changed to address the Commission’s request to find an alternative method that does not use herbicides.  He maintained that his plan promotes biodiversity and added that invasive species are the biggest threat to biodiversity after human development.  The wetland delineation is more liberal than the one done several years ago by Cooper Environmental Services.  The method for delineating the wetland was reviewed in his report at the first hearing.

Mr. Sourati added that the owner has hired Mr. Wilkinson to execute the plan if approved.  His firm will oversee the entire three year plan as outlined in the narrative.

Much discussion followed about the methods for removing the locust and black maple trees as well as the irrigation plan.  Mr. Wilkinson offered a way to monitor the water well on a monthly basis.  

The Commission asked if the upper area near the stone wall could be planted with native shrubs – instead of the proposed grassland.  Mr. Wilkinson said this could be done.

After further discussion and with no additional comment from the public a motion was made to close the hearing at 2:00 PM.  The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.  A subsequent motion was made to approve the revised plan as outlined in the September 5, 2012 narrative with the following special conditions:

  • A monthly water well monitoring protocol shall be provided by Wilkinson Ecological Design for approval before work begins.
  • A stump removal protocol shall be provided by Wilkinson Ecological Design for approval before work begins.
  • There shall be no use of herbicides or fertilizers.
  • The landscape plan shall change the proposed grassland vegetation to native shrubs in the southeast area near the stone wall.
  • The native trees shall be allowed to re-grow.
  • All work shall be confined to the applicant’s property and additional surveyed stakes shall be installed clearly marking the lot lines before work begins.
  • An on site meeting shall take place among Wilkinson Environmental Design contractor(s) and the Conservation Agent to review this Order and approve the installed sedimentation control measures before work begins.  These barriers shall be maintained in good condition as needed.
  • A semi-annual written progress report shall be provided by Wilkinson Environmental Design for the first three years of the land management plan’s execution.  This report shall be prepared before and after the growing season-- such as in March and October.
The motion was seconded and with no discussion passed unanimously with five in favor.

ABBREVIATED NOTICE OF INTENT DOUG DOWLING FOR THOMAS LANGMAN ET AL; off Menemsha Inn Road; AP 21-52.2:  Ms. Goff thanked              Mr. Dowling for being so patient with the previous hearing and opened this hearing at       2:15 PM.  Mr. Dowling summarized the plan to subdivide the property to create a separate buildable lot.  To accommodate this subdivision he would like to upgrade the existing roadway to Planning Board specifications, relocate a section of the roadway, install underground utilities and repair an existing culvert.  The activity will require clearing a 14-foot wide roadway, trenching, building the new roadway by grading and adding a hardener base with gravel, the roadway shoulders will be loamed and seeded.  The activity takes place in the 100-foot buffer zone of an isolated Bordering Vegetated Wetland.  The closest activity for the new section of roadway is on the wetland’s edge.

Mr. Dowling reviewed the revised site plan dated 9/19/12 that he created to address the Commission’s comments at the site visit.  A section of the new driveway was moved to create six feet of space between the driveway and work area and the wetland edge.

The Commission agreed this adequately addresses its concerns.  With no comment from the public a motion was made to close the hearing at 2:25 PM.  The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.  A subsequent motion was made to approve the revised plan as presented with the following special conditions:

  • The edge of the wetland as shown on the site plan shall be clearly staked and approved before work begins.
  • The specific outside edges of the work area shall be clearly staked.  The roadway shall be at least six feet from the wetland edge as shown – further north toward the house.
  • An on-site conference shall take place among the Conservation Agent and contractor(s) to review this Order and approve the installed siltation barriers before work begins.
  • There shall be no underground storage of fuel oil.
The motion was seconded and with no discussion passed unanimously with five in favor.


The September 5, 2012 Meeting Minutes were reviewed and approved as presented.  

The following documents were signed:

Order of Conditions Langman; AP 21-52.2.
Order of Conditions Grin Acres; SE 12 – 659; AP 21-10, 12, 13.

With no further business to conduct the meeting adjourned at 2:40 PM.
Respectfully submitted by Chuck Hodgkinson, C.A.S.

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