WATERTOWN — The Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Agency briefly reviewed a new application for nine, duplex, age-restricted residential homes, associated driveways, parking and private road at 470 Straits Tpke. at its meeting on Thursday, July 15, before determining a Public Hearing will be scheduled for a future meeting.

The development is being proposed by Carmine Castiglione.

Assistant Planning and Zoning Enforcement Officer Moosa Rafey advised Mr. Castiglione that an alternative must be included as part of the application. One alternative might be to move the homes and impervious surfaces further away from the brook and wetlands, he said.

Mr. Rafey noted that the current plan calls for the disturbance of a little more than 33,000 square feet of upland review area and that the project slopes down to the existing brook.

Commissioners determined the project was a significant activity, requiring a Public Hearing, and that a site walk should be performed prior to the next meeting.

In other action, the commission opened two Public Hearings, both of which were continued to the next meeting.

The first hearing was for an application for construction of an 8,100-square-foot building with 56 parking spaces, grading and drainage improvements at the intersection of Echo Lake Road and Buckingham Street.

The new development will include a six-pump gas station and some combination of store or stores. 

The parcel had previously been approved for a restaurant.

The second hearing was for the filling and grading of a wetlands area for installation of a swing set and fence, as well as the installation of a 12x20-foot deck in an upland review area.

The homeowners, Josh and Tiffany Acuna, told commissioners they were unaware there were any restrictions on their property other than the area labelled as a conservation easement. 

Mrs. Acuna said she had come to town hall to request a map of the property and no wetlands were noted on the map she received.

The couple paid a contractor to come in and fill in an area in order to create a space for a swing set based on information she received, she said.

Mr. Rafey said it was likely Mrs. Acuna had asked for a map of her property and had been given one showing property lines or the “as-built.” 

That map would have included information about various aspects of the parcel, but might not have been clear about the locations of upland review areas.

Mr. Rafey said that particular lot had been mostly all wetlands and a limited amount of area had been approved for disturbance at the time the house was built because the town could not prevent the previous owner from using a property created before current regulations. 

No other areas of the parcel were supposed to be disturbed.

Mr. Rafey said he saw no real issue with allowing the deck at the back of the house, as that area had already been disturbed during construction of the home. 

He also felt the fence would be okay as only a few posts were involved, but he had issue with the area created for the swing set. 

He suggested, and the homeowners had apparently agreed, to relocate the swing set to another area on the other side of the house.

Commissioners were concerned about the fill, however. The Acunas were advised to consult a soil scientist to develop a remediation plan and to return to the commission with that plan. 

That plan would need to include removal of the fill, which apparently includes gravel, and replanting of the area with suitable wetlands species.

Alternatively, Mr. Rafey said they could also try speaking to someone from the Northwest Conservation District, as that advice would be free. 

The agency would at least be able to tell the couple what could or could not be planted as part of a restoration plan, but the soil would need to be removed either way.

At one point, Mrs. Acuna asked if they still had to remove the soil and remediate the area if neighbors did not object. 

The commission responded that it was not up to neighbors to decide.

One additional application under old business was tabled, pending additional information. 

A soil scientist recently visited the property of Denis and Rita O’Sullivan at the intersection of Northfield Road and Smith Pond Road, where the couple was proposing a two-lot subdivision and construction of two new single-family dwellings, to identify a new area of wetlands not previously noted, but older wetlands still need to be flagged, Mr. Rafey said, and the submitted plans need to be revised to reflect the new area.

Two applications were approved: a request for repair to an existing septic system at 65 Northfield Rd. and an application for the construction of a 44x33-foot detached garage and expanded driveway at 191 Charter Oak Dr.

The latter came with the stipulation that the proposed garage would need to be set a minimum of 35 feet from the wetlands.

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