Hillsborough Planning Board Debates Environmental Impact of Development

The recent Hillsborough Planning Board meeting was marked by in-depth discussions on the environmental ramifications of a proposed development, specifically addressing stormwater management, habitat preservation, and the classification and impact of a ditch on the property. The board engaged with various experts and witnesses to scrutinize the developmental impacts on local ecosystems, including stream corridors, wetlands, and wildlife habitats.

Central to the meeting was the concern over the proposed project’s encroachment within the Hillsboro stream encroachment corridor. This included debates on how stormwater management would affect the local water resources and habitats. The board and consultants discussed the design and layout of the site, exploring measures to minimize habitat disturbance while ensuring compliance with water quality treatment standards. An environmental consultant presented a management plan focusing on the potential for enhanced grassland bird habitat through natural meadow mix planting and periodic cutting.

The board also reviewed the history of a parking lot on the site, which drains into a drainage feature and discussed the potential increase in stormwater volume from the development. As part of the analysis, they considered the submission of a supplemental report on ecological impacts and the applicant’s inclusion of recommended environmental safeguards.

Further, there was a debate on the classification of a ditch as a wetland. The board grappled with whether the ditch met the criteria for hydric soils and contained hydric plants, which are indicative of wetland conditions. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had previously classified the ditch as an “ordinary resource value ditch,” but this did not go unchallenged. The board heard testimony on the presence of hydric soils and some hydric plants in the ditch, though written reports or lists of these findings were not provided.

Another topic discussed was the Right to Farm Act and its implications for buffer zones near streams, given the impact of farming operations on water resources. This included a discussion on the potential ecological impact of the proposed development on wildlife species. An ecologist was questioned about the impact on species such as the sharp-shinned hawk and the bald eagle, and provided insight into how the presence of these species influenced his recommendations. The board also inquired about wetland classification and the communication with the DEP regarding wetland delineation.

The public’s ability to comment on applications before the board was also a point of discussion. Concerns were raised about the opportunity for public comment and the process for notifying property owners within 200 feet of the subject property. The board chair assured that the public would have the opportunity to speak on any application before action was taken, and any issues with notice provision would be addressed.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Robert Britting, Jr.
Planning Board Officials:
Shawn Lipani, Robert Wagner, Jr., John Ciccarelli, Robert Peason, Carl Suraci, Frank DelCore, Ron Skobo, Patricia Smith, Bruce Radowitz, Eric Bernstein (Board Attorney), Todd M. Hay (Board Engineer), Michael Lombardozzi (Board Court Reporter), David Kois (Planning Director), Jocylene Bello (Assistant Planner/GIS Specialist), Marcella McLaughlin (Zoning Officer), Debora Padgett (Administrative Assistant/Planning Board Clerk), Marie Kane (Planning & Zoning Clerk)

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