Conservation Commission 5/2/18 Meeting: Helmis Circle 40B Project (posted 5/15/18)

The Conservation Commission (ConCom) met for the 2nd time to discuss the 40B project at Helmis Circle just north of Alma Road.  See FHMNA previous article covering the ConCom 4/4/18 meeting.

The 5/2/18 meeting can be viewed on FCTV.   Scroll to 1:34:42 through 2:39:15.

The hearing was continued to Thursday, 5/23/18, but later requested to be heard on 6/6/18 (watch for updated agendas on the Town website).  At that time, ConCom will review a report (to be ordered) from an independent consultant specifically regarding the project’s impact on the coastal bank.  Nothing more is required of the developer at this time.  A report on water run-off by an independent consultant is already in the file.

REMINDER: Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals, Thursday, June 7, 2018, 6:00 p.m. CONTINUED: #090-17-Helmis Circle, LLC 40B off Worcester Ct. Alma Rd. can also be watched live streaming on FCTV. (This meeting may be continued again if the ZBA needs time to review the ConCom 6/6/18 meeting.  Again, watch for updated agendas on the Town website.)

Summary:

The developer reported changes made to the plans as requested at the 4/4 meeting.  The most significant change to the plans is that after many months of implying the road through the project would be acceptable to Falmouth as a town road, it does not meet town specs.  All references to “public road” have been deleted from the plans. Also deleted were references to chemical stabilizers (not needed). They added references to storm water drainage and Home Owners’ Covenants.

The developers also reported that one mature tree had fallen prior to an inspection on 2/28/18, before the March nor’easters. The bank is well vegetated.  North of lots 1-5 and 11-12 there were no additional downed trees by the March storms.

ConCom members were stilled concerned about:

  1. the amount of roof runoff due to density
  2. the coastal bank because plans using 100 year storm history may no longer be adequate given current weather patterns. If the ground is frozen or saturated, where would the runoff go?
  3. tree roots, from trees clear cut on the site, which go beyond the site boundaries will be disrupted, leading to further disruption.

However, one member did state that 40B regulations do allow the density applied for in an area where otherwise it would not be allowed in Falmouth.  All the board can do is be as comfortable as possible with all the issues raised.

One abutter was concerned that what we are hearing when the developer says “in general” is an “educated opinion vs. the loss of an irreplaceable resource”.  He noted that the Cape Cod Commission and the Wetlands Protection Act do not want any activity within a 100’ buffer.  11 houses (lots 1-7 and 10-13) are within 50’ of the coastal bank.  He requested a guarantee that there will be no adverse effect.

This abutter was also concerned about future finances.  If each homeowner pays $200-$300/year, this might break even for the first 3-5 years.  How will they pay for future repairs and maintenance of the very long private road, wastewater system and other common areas?

Another abutter concentrated his comments on the disruption to the surrounding area due to construction vibration and excavation which could take years before the project is complete.  Only 1 tree was lost this year, but it was surrounded and therefore protected by many other trees.  Once the site trees are gone, there will be less protection.  Some garages are only 2’ from the fence and 1 home is only 3’.  How can homeowners even clean their gutters when there is no room for a ladder?

A third abutter added wind as a concern.  Once the site is clear cut, it will be easier for the wind to blow down other trees.  The 40B regulations call for “public safety”.  Trees may be blown down on top of houses or into the swamp or vernal pond, causing more disruption.  Once roots are gone, protection of the remaining trees is lessened.  He asked if a consultant can analyze the area for an appropriate density of homes to protect both the owners and coastal banks.

The ConCom agreed to order an independent study to review the project’s impact on the coastal banks, but not to analyze the area for density.

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