Pepper Street Business Park proposal should be modest in scope, restore wetlands

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To the Editor:

Again compliments to the Sun for excellent reporting on the illegal quarry at Cambridge and Independence drives. I have been following the permit applications as a consultant for Rivers Alliance of CT, which works to protect all state waters, including those underground.

I have three questions following the conclusion of the Inland-Wetland hearing and the hearing on Dec. 17 in Planning and Zoning. First many have remarked that this is a uniquely odd application, because it melds an application to remediate the destroyed wetlands with an application for a commercial building.

As far as I can tell, the Wetlands commissioners have not addressed the question of whether any of the proposed remediation plans would result in a site with a substrate suitable for buildings of considerable size.

P&Z also seemed focused on the remediation, not construction.

Second, proponents of the plan point out that, even though the site is in the recharge area of Aquarion Water, that company has not registered serious objections. In my view, Aquarion should more often take the lead in protecting its sources, but they have a hold-back policy in many cases.

However, an equally important question is: why is Aquarion the water user that the applicant apparently considers most important. In the future, many people may wish to access the high-quality water in this watershed using private wells.

Some commissioners have made this point implicitly by referring to the “town’s” water. The public trust in the subsurface water is the paramount interest that needs explicit protection.

Finally (more of a comment), I cannot understand the fairly weighty consideration accorded the applicant’s proposal for a 10-year project.

For 10 years, there would trucks coming and going with a canyon’s worth of fill; ongoing  regrading and compacting, and so forth. You quoted the town’s consultant, Russ Dirienzo, to the effect that this is ridiculous.

A far more modest scope of work can be combined with as much remediation of wetlands as is likely to be successful on this devastated site, and town would be spared many years of disturbance and the obligation to monitor the activity.

Margaret Miner,

Roxbury

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