BOH reviews proposed Conservation Cluster

by Karina Coombs

Jeffrey Brem presented plans to the Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) on November 26 as part of the Conservation Cluster Permit application process for the development of his 11.84-acre lot at 100 Long Ridge Road. He temporarily recused himself as BOH chair during his presentation. In a sometimes heated but polite exchange with abutters in attendance, Brem outlined the details of his plan as they concerned the BOH. Of primary concern to neighbors were water quality issues given the number of horses on the property and both the location of a manure pile and a future septic system in relation to a stream on one of the proposed lots. The board will review the plan and address issues brought up by neighboring residents.

Brem had presented his development plan to the Planning Board on November 19 and his presentation to the BOH was to address their specific issues for the permit process. BOH consultant Rob Frado noted that Brem needed to meet several requirements per M.G.L. C. 41 s. 81U for the BOH to recommend approval to the Planning Board.

Wetlands delineation

One such requirement is for the applicant to show “accurate locations of wetlands, brooks, streams, surface water bodies, and the wetland/flood hazard district.” Brem showed the board the wetland delineation on his plans, but the board pointed out that the delineation was seven years old and has never been signed off by the Conservation Commission (ConsCom). Brem noted that he would contact ConsCom and re-walk the area with Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard. The board warned him that wetland approval might add a few additional weeks to the process.

Health Agent Linda Fantasia also notified Brem that his barn inspection fee was past due and needed to be paid, which Brem said he would take care of. Brem noted that he was in the process of relocating a manure pile on the property since its present location is about 100 feet from a proposed well site and was aware that he would need to drill through bedrock for the new well and test its water quality.

Abutters concerns

Also in attendance for the presentation were two property abutters who expressed several concerns about the possible development of the site. The BOH also acknowledged receiving letters from other concerned neighbors and told those in attendance the board could only focus on BOH interests. Long Ridge Road resident Michael Hanauer pointed out the presence of a stream on the property near the present manure pile. Hanauer told the BOH that the water ran downstream on the property near the manure pile, under the road into his property and through those of two or three other neighboring properties before ending up at a fire cistern where it then spreads out when full. Hanauer, along with Ann Woodard of Garnett Rock Lane, stated they were concerned about water contamination from the manure and proposed new septic system, and asked that the board consider an independent drainage mitigation study.

Woodard noted that the neighborhood often smelled strongly of manure and that the pile has at times been as tall as Woodard. Brem informed the BOH he was in the process of having the manure hauled away as he does every year and questioned why Woodard and others had not complained about the manure smell before his plan to develop the property. Hanauer explained that some neighbors might have felt uneasy about approaching the BOH for an issue concerning its chair and pointed out that Brem had been on the board for almost as long as he had lived in town.

Board member Bill Risso wanted it known that he and the rest of the board were listening seriously to the concerns of Hanauer, Woodard and others and stressed that the board would be impartial throughout the entirety of the process.

Both Hanauer and Woodard also questioned the value of a conservation cluster for 100 Long Ridge Road and viewed it as Brem simply “trying to wedge an extra house in the middle.” One of the new lots would occupy the space near the existing manure pile in front of the barn and Hanauer and Woodard see this as stretching the boundaries of what the property can contain in terms of both animal and human waste, further compounding the potential for a health issue. Because the property now contains seven horses, the abutters think of the barn as being the equivalent of another house on the lot. Said Hanauer, “There are not just four buildings but five.”

The abutters also questioned the board as to what a barn inspection entails. The board told them that they look at the overall safety conditions of the barn and the health of the animals as well as the manure pile. Fantasia noted that the barn in question had been inspected in October and that the BOH had not reported any problems or concerns.

Hanauer and Woodard also pointed out that the horses would now have a much smaller area on the property because of development and they questioned whether or not there were any zoning concerns about that number of large animals on a much smaller lot.

Stable permit question

There was also some debate as to whether or not Brem needed a commercial barn permit since he boarded horses that were not his in the barn. Brem said he did not believe he needed a commercial permit since he did not offer any riding instruction on his property, but both Hanauer and Fantasia said that he might need one. “Riding academy or stable” are two of the “commercial recreational uses” activities that require a special permit under Section 3.2.2.8.6 of the Zoning Bylaws. However, “Private family guest house, garage, stage, greenhouse...or other similar building or structure for domestic storage or use” is allowed by right under section 3.2.1.11.1 and these activities do not require a special permit.

The commercial permit process for the barn would require a public hearing with neighbors. Brem was encouraged to speak to the Zoning Board of Appeals about this matter for clarification. Said Brem, “75% of barn owners board horses and don’t have commercial permits. If you do this they will leave Carlisle and this will end up in the Boston Globe.”

The board noted that it would consider all matters that fall under its review and would work with the other committees in town that needed to be involved, before issuing a recommendation to the planning board. Brem will need to show contours on his plans regarding drainage flow arrows for water flow. ∆