Newbury Commission Deliberates Environmental Impact of Local Projects

In a recent meeting, the Newbury Conservation Commission discussed several matters concerning the local environment, including requests for extensions on projects impacting wetlands and buffer zones, as well as debates over the need for detailed documentation and potential impacts on the surrounding area. The meeting focused on the complexities of balancing development with environmental protection, addressing concerns over project details and the potential effects on local ecosystems.

A key discussion centered around a request for a second extension of a permit for work on the buffer zone on Elm Street, presented by Wendy Reid from the Governor’s Academy. This request was under scrutiny due to its being the second extension since the original filing in June 2017, with the first extension granted in July 2021. The commission deliberated on the need for another extension and decided to further consider the matter at the next meeting.

Another topic was the proposed project on Marshmallow Lane, which involved the construction of a two-family dwelling with a septic system and utilities. The applicant sought an extension, noting that the only change from the previous application was the shape of the building while maintaining the same intended use and parking lot. Commission members raised concerns about the size of the driveway and parking spaces, and a site visit was scheduled for March 12th to gain a clearer understanding of the project.

The meeting also addressed a variance request related to a proposed turnaround area and the potential removal of a dune at the Eastern end, which was formed by invasive species. Concerns were raised about the potential migration of sand into the turnaround area if the dune was removed. The applicant explained plans to add material to the area to prevent sand movement. Safety implications were also considered, particularly regarding the possibility of cars backing out onto a pedestrian route to the beach.

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Public comments were invited, and a participant named Jamie shared images of the proposed parking area and expressed opposition to the project. Jamie also voiced concerns about the lack of public access to certain documents and questioned the necessity of the proposed project. The commission acknowledged the concerns raised and provided the applicant with an opportunity to respond.

In addition, the commission discussed a proposal for a driveway and on-site parking on a property at 333rd Street, which included a proposal for a variance in excess of the square footage allowed. Members expressed discomfort with the proposal, debating the need for proper access to the property and the potential environmental impact. The commission emphasized the importance of considering alternative plans that could comply with bylaws without the need for a variance.

A request for a determination of applicability for work on a septic system on Johnson Lane was also addressed, with the Board of Health having approved the plan, but the installation not yet commenced. The commission scheduled a site visit to confirm the wetland boundaries on the plan.

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The commission took up the matter of sand nourishment, specifically discussing concerns about the outdated sieve analysis of the sand being used for beach nourishment in Salisbury. The reliability of sources for grain sizes provided by Bentley Warren was questioned, highlighting the necessity for accurate material analysis.

The meeting concluded with the commission discussing the development of guidelines to better manage continuances for meetings, aiming to accommodate applicants, abutters, and the commission’s time. The members also touched upon the record amount of gallons emitted into the river and the enforcement actions by the D and EPA.

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.

Town Administrator:
Tracy Blais
Environmental Commission Officials:
Bob Connors, Mary Rimmer, Woody Knight, Brad Duffin, Dianne O’Brien, TJ Conte, Mick Brown

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