40B, Helmis Circle, Conservation Commission hearing April 4, 2018 report

On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the Conservation Commission (ConCom) held a two-hour hearing on the 28 house 40B development proposed off Worcester Court and Alma Road on the shores of Little Pond.

You can watch the hearing on FCTV  by scrolling to 52:00:00 through 2:48:10. The hearing was continued to May 2, 2018 which you can watch live streaming on FCTV .  Please email your comments or questions directly to the ConCom.

(REMINDER: Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals, Thursday, April 19th 2018, 6:30 p.m. CONTINUED: #090-17-Helmis Circle, LLC 40B off Worcester Ct. Alma Rd. can also be watched live streaming onFCTV. LATER CONTINUED TO JUNE 7, AFTER THE MAY 2nd CON COM MEETING.)

The developer presented revised plans which answered many of ConCom’s concerns from their first meeting on February 14, 2018 (see FHMNA report) including a proposed decrease in elevation which would eliminate almost all of the retaining walls; two houses to be shifted approximately 20 feet to the west, away from Little Pond; fences to be split rail allowing for wildlife through-movement; and details about the safeguarding of box turtles. However, there was no change in the density of homes proposed, limitation of trees removed, nor addition of open space within the “village”. The explanation of snow storage areas was questioned.

Many questions raised by the ConCom and the public concerned the impact of construction and tree removal on the coastal banks abutting the property. Much of the project is within the 100-foot buffer of the banks. Potential destabilization of the banks which provide flood protection is the primary concern. Also questioned was the possibility of impact of this destabilization on the nearby vernal pool and Atlantic White Cedar swamp on town owned conservation abutting the site to the north.

Additional issues raised by the ComCom and abutters were related to the storm water management system proposed and the Homeowners Association that would eventually be responsible for maintaining the elaborate system.

There was some discussion about the currently heavily forested site which provides habitat to many species of plants and animals including eastern box turtles. Almost all trees would be removed over the course of the multiyear development. Trees on both sides of the property line to the north provide important support and stability to the coastal bank at this location. At the base of the bank is the Cedar Swamp and vernal pool. Removing the trees on the development site along with the construction of many of the houses in the 100-foot buffer zone of the coastal bank will endanger the trees along the top of the bank on the town land. A number of these trees exceed 12 inches in diameter. The severe northeaster storms this past winter damaged many of these trees and some fell along the banks taking soil with them. Trees are social entities, they fare much better during storms when they are surrounded by other trees that provide support and buffer the wind gusts. A lone tree is very vulnerable to high winds especially when combined with wet heavy snow and ice.