January 19th Conservation Commission January 19, 2017 RCL Notes

RCL Notes of January 19th, 2017, Conservation Commission Meeting

1. WETLAND APPLICATION

A.  Dean Koravos: 92 Old Beach Road, Map 8.4/Lot 119

Mark West, West Environmental – Sea Wall

Mark West, Wetland Scientist, representing the applicant, apologized to the board in regards to this application stating that it has been before this board for months and months with the project not moving forward.  He went on to say that the project was originally designed and proposed by an engineering firm and he was asked to assist with the wetland application.  He clarified that   the property was no longer owned by Dean Koravos, but was now owned by Matt O’Connor.  Mark West explained that he wanted to come before the board to explain the project.  He first showed the original plan, which he stated, is no longer being proposed. Instead, there is a new plan, which has minimum impact – 200 square feet of impact – with no other grading.  He explained why a sea wall is being considered for this site, namely that the property is surrounded by properties with sea walls and that it is lower.

He explained that the kind of wall that is being proposed is exactly what the building inspector, Peter Rowell, has been requesting in his letter.  It will be made of granite blocks that are two stones high and it will be able to handle more storm surge while it won’t be higher than the walls on the abutting properties.  He stated that there is beach grass, which is going to come up in the summer.  He believes the plan will address Peter Rowell’s concerns, stating that that he had not seen it yet, as the wall will not direct water on other people’s properties.

Members of the Commission asked questions regarding on how to best protect the Town’s right of way from being flooded.

Mark West reiterated that the wetland application was only regarding a sea wall project with a small area of invasive species being removed.  After some discussion with members of the Commission, Mark West agreed that native shrubs could be added and planted behind the wall.

A site walk will be planned once the final plan has been filed with the building inspector.

A site walk will be planned once the final plan is filed.

2.  TRAILS SUBCOMMITTEE

Member Mike Garvan provided some background on the Trails Subcommittee stating that two of the members had resigned.

Addie Tarbell, a member of the Trails Subcommittee, was present in the audience.  She stated that she was the only member left as two members had resigned, and one member, Susan Shepcaro was now a member of the Conservation Commission.  It was her opinion that the Trails subcommittee should be rolled back to the Conservation Commission.

Member Mike Garvan stated that the plan is to work on updating the Town Forest Plan prior to building any more bog bridges.

A motion was made to dissolve the Trails subcommittee of the Conservation Commission.  All members were in favor.

C.  OTHER BUSINESS

1.  Brian Murphy, spoke in regards to a proposed warrant article to establish a Trail Access Feasibility Committee.   

(Editor’s note: description of the Petitioned Warrant Article: “To see if the town will vote to establish a Trail Access Feasibility Committee to explore the feasibility and funding requirements of expanding one of the existing public trails through Rye Woods, behind Parsons Field, for the purpose of increasing access to the Rye Recreation area from the center of town in general and from the Rye Junior High Students in particular. Committee would develop recommendations for the best route, surface materials and maintenance plan, and would provide a report to the town no later than September 1, 2017. Committee shall consist of a representative from public safety, a representative from the recreation department, a planning board member, a school board member and up to four citizen representatives who are members of leagues who use Rye Recreation, as well as additional members as needed and appointed by the committee. Committee shall self-elect a citizen chairperson” (BOS minutes, January 17, 2017)).

Per recommendation of Town Administrator, Mike Magnant, the petitioned warrant article was sent to the Conservation Commission for their review.

Brian Murphy explained that the immediate purpose of the proposed warrant article is to take a look at the trails in the Town Forest and to improve accessibility.  He stated that he grew up in Rye pointing to the fact that the town does not have a New England classic town square, however, he went on to say that something we do have, is the Town Forest, which is a great resource for residents.

Brian Murphy stated that the intent is to create a committee, which would explore ways of making trails more accessible to school aged children to walk from the school to the Rye Rec.

Members of the Commission informed Brian Murphy that the Town Forest is governed by a conservation easement.  (Editor’s note: “By vote at Town Meeting in March 2000, the citizens of Rye granted, and thereby extinguished, Town Forest development rights to the Rockingham County Conservation District via a conservation easement.  The easement permits forest management and public recreation, but dictates that the Rye Town Forest ‘will be retained IN PERPETUITY predominantly in its natural, scenic, undeveloped, and open condition…’” (Forest Management Plan for the Rye Town Forest, 2003, p. 11)).

Brian Murphy stated that 32 families signed the petition in one day.  There are trails that exist today, which are consistent with the conservation easement.

Members of the Commission made the point that they are very familiar with the Town Forest and that they would like to provide input to the Committee that will be formed and that they should be channels of communication between the two entities.

Chair Sally King stated that the Conservation Commission will be providing an amendment to the proposed warrant article at the Deliberative Session.  It was suggested that Brian Murphy walked the trails with members of the Conservation Commission.

There was discussion about including a member of the Conservation Commission on the Committee to be formed if the warrant article passes.  It was noted that the warrant article was drafted in one day by members of the public who were not as informed about the Town Forest as the members of the Commission.

Brian Murphy agreed to go walk the trails with two members of the Commission: Susan Shepcaro and Mike Garvan.  Also, he was responsive to the idea of an amendment by the Commission.

2.  Heather Reed, 165 West Road, request to become an alternate member.

Heather Reed explained that she moved to Rye in 2012 and that she has a strong interest in conservation.  She stated that she recently completely the Natural Resources Stewards Program at UNH and that she is interested in protecting wetlands, educating people in regards to all ecosystems, the management of the Town Forest and the importance of native species.

Members of the Commission made a motion to recommend Heather Reed as an alternate member to the Board of Selectmen.

3.  Lawton Struble, request to become an alternate member

Members of the Commission made a motion to recommend Lawton Struble as an alternate member to the Board of Selectmen.

4.  Discussion about the budget

Member Jaci Grote spoke about creating a budget with the different categories describing priorities by using a spreadsheet.  She stated that they have a budget of $ 90,000.00 per year.  It is a work in progress to be continued at the next meeting.

5.  Discussion

Member of the public, Carol Menard, expressed her concerns regarding the lack of communication between Town Boards and Commissions.  She is very concerned about the future of our water.  There was discussion about the proposal on South Road to build 19 homes in the Wellhead Protection and an upcoming work session by the Planning Board on February 8th in regards to the proposal and its impact.

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