By Beth David
Neighbors had a lot to say about a proposal to build three homes on Charity Stevens Lane, proposed by Ronald Oliveira, at the Fairhaven Conservation Commission’s meeting on Monday, 5/9.
Speaking for the petitioner, engineer Christian Farland explained that the fill that had been moved to the site was tested and was clean, so the company was not required to remove it. He said the Nasketucket River Basin has separate rules and he was not aware of the NRB.
Mr. Farland said the land is mainly level farmland and they will “mimick as much as possible” the local terrain.
Most the discussion revolved around flooding and draining concerns, and the grade of the property, which will have to be raised as much as five feet in some spots.
Mr. Farland showed two possibilities for drainage, with grass swales, and an open retention system that is supposed to drain in 24 hours.
Some of the neighbors were skeptical.
Abutter Joseph Rezendes said he had concerns about mosquitoes. He said the drainage is already not very good and asked if there could be a “rainscape” instead of what was proposed.
Mr. Farland said his proposal is a rain garden and ti will drain within 24 hours. There is landscaping, and the water will also be directed away.
One woman said she was concerned that the four-foot build-up, plus the house, would create a high house, very close to her home.
“I don’t want any mosquito infestation,” said one man. “I’ve got children.”
Other neighbors voiced concern about how violations would be handled. If the project did not go as planned and the drainage issues developed, what recourse would they have?
Vice Chair Geoffrey Haworth, who chaired the meeting, said that the town enforcement officer would handle violations.
A couple of neighbors, including Leo Plaud, said they worried that the new septic systems were close to their wells.
Mr. Plaud added that he saw some plants that he believes prove the area is a wetland.
ConCom member Louise Barteau said it was possible the spot was a “isolated wetlands,” but she would have to go and see the plants.
Mr. Plaud said another problem was that the new septic would drain on his property and also prevent his septic’s leaching field from draining.
Mr. Farland said that there would be less water with the changes the project would make. He said all the water will drain better.
“So you’re putting a house in my back yard and raising it four feet,” said Mr. Plaud.
Eric Hsia asked for a “guarantee” that there would be no impact to his land.
Mr. Farland said yes.
“Things don’t always go according to plan,” said Mr. Hsia. “What happens if it doesn’t work?”
He said he was sure it would be find the first couple of years, but what would happen in five years. He said he has lived there for 40 years and things have changed.
“The drainage is nowhere near what it was in 1970,” said Mr. Hsia.
Mr. Haworth said the engineers were using reliable methods.
“This isn’t the first time they’ve been used,” said Mr. Haworth. “They know what will work.”
“But what happens if it doesn’t,” asked Mr. Hsia.
Conservation Commissioner and Building Inspector Wayne Fostin said the town can put “ongoing conditions” on the property.
In response to ConCom members’ questions, Mr. Hsia said that conditions were wetter than in 1970. He said water pools at the end of the street, and it never did that when he was young.
“More houses, more water,” said Mr. Hsia.
Mr. Plaud also asked if the plan could change to flip the driveway to the other side.
David Fitzgerald said that would drain the water right into his well.
Mr. Fitzgerald was also on the agenda about his driveway, which he never realized was actually on the adjacent property.
He said that with the plans as drawn, he would have no legal access to his house, because his existing driveway would be wiped out.
Neighbors also said they just did not trust the plans, or the town, because the pile of fill had remained on the property, even though the ConCom said it would be removed. Mr. Haworth had already explained that the fill tested as clean.
He said removing it just to have it get put back did not make sense. The project required the fill.
He said the town used its own consultant to verify the developers plans.
“We’re not just taking his word for it,” said Mr. Haworth.
The hearing was continued to the 5/23 meeting. The ConCom will look into the claims about the building area being an isolated wetland.
In a related hearing, David Fitzgerald of 31 Charity Stevens Lane, said he needed to relocate his driveway, which is in the NRB, because of the proposed project.
Mr. Fitzgerald said he thought he had an easement for the driveway, but discovered they only had a letter which is not good enough.
Mr. Haworth suggested that Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Farland get together to discuss ways that Mr. Fitzgerald can use the new driveway being constructed, with proper cross easements in place.
Mr. Fitzgerald’s hearing was also continued to 5/23.
Another hearing that had brought neighbors out in force was continued without comment, at the request of the applicant. Jimmy and Nickolas Papas filed a Notice of Intent for tree cutting in the buffer zone to the BVW (Bordering Vegetative Wetlands), in the vicinity of the treatment plant and the wind turbines. They are proposing a housing development on Hiller Avenue, Paul Street and Timothy Street. The flagging process hit a snag with all the rain from the week before.
In another matter, the ConCom approved an NOI for Daniel Braga to install a Title 5 septic system within a flood zone at his property on 14 Nelson Avenue.
The work is part of renovations to the home that have not been finalized yet. Engineer Rick Charon, representing the owners, said it was an “advanced treatment system.”
Conservation Commissioner and Building Inspector Wayne Fostin said he supported the plan.
“It will make the situation a lot better,” he said.
No members of the public spoke on the petition.
Steven Rose of 82 Raymond Street also received permission to construct a rear deck within the flood zone.
Mike Cardoza, speaking for the applicant, said the 14×21 deck will cover an existing concrete flagstone patio that is already part of an enclosure between the house and the garage.
No members of the public spoke on the petition.
In other business, the commission:
• Continued a request by Nelson Bernardo, 855 Sconticut Neck Road to construct a single family home in the flood zone. Mr. Bernardo did not have the postcards with him.
• Continued, at the request of the applicant, an NOI from Oliveira Investment (Ronald Oliveira), 35 Welcome Street, seeking to build a single family home within the 100’ buffer zone and within the Nasketucket River Basin.
• Granted an extension on a permit that expired for 9 Carlton Avenue.