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Watershed Protection Comm Minutes 6/21/12
Watershed Protection Committee
June 21, 2012

Committee Members Present: Warren Archey (WA), Neal Carpenter (NC), Jo Anne Magee (JAM), Tad Ames (TA), Rick Fuore (RF), Dave Lane (DL), John McNich (JM), Tom Romeo (TR)

Minutes of 6/7/2012 were approved as amended. Changes included: 1. The June 7th minutes lists members present and below that it states “Also in attendance”.  It was noted that the names included in this sentence were also members of the Committee therefore should be included above.  The 2nd change included a notation a Richmond Representative that Debra King has expressed interest in serving on the committee. JM is to check with Greg F. regarding this.

Review of Article 97 former Town Counsel Opinion

JM reported that form Town Counsel, Attorney Scully, issued a written opinion that the watershed lands were not covered under Article 97.  The committee asked if the current Town Counsel should also issue an opinion since some of Attorney Scully’s other opinions have been reversed.  JM stated he would talk with the current Counsel to determine if she should look at it.  WA also suggested we request the Attorney General’s office to do an expedited review of the issue and render their opinion.  Committee members agreed that this was a good idea and the request should be made.

Board members’ expectations of a Conservation Restriction (CR):
Each member was asked to list what they hoped to accomplish regarding the Watershed Protection initiative.

DL asked if there were enough restrictions in place that would negate the need of doing an additional CR. Dave has a concern regarding how the telephone company right of way could impact the land and that it was a high priority of his to make sure protections were in place regarding this strip of land.  Dave questioned whether other properties in the watershed that were not owned by the town should be purchased and if so what sources of funding would be available.  Dave was concerned about the potential “strings that could be attached” if Federal Funds were used to purchase parcels and that they may require a CR.

TA: Tad stated that he thought Article 97 would be an impediment to change the use of the property which would be good.  He would like a CR because it goes beyond Article 97,  & mandates open land.  He, like DL, stressed to keep it simple and streamlined.

JAM: Her primary focus is to protect the watershed & ensure the land is protected for the foreseeable future.  She thought additional protections were needed with special attention given for the need to retain the “open space” so that it would be very difficult to change the use.

RF: Rick stated he was not if favor of a CR that would be held by a 3rd party.  His fear is that there could be restrictions that would impair the Town’s ability to make the necessary changes, modifications, etc that may be needed for the maintenance or improvements for the water supply.  He was not against a CR if the Town was in control of the CR.  He wants to ensure that future changes needed for communication, new piping, etc. etc. would be able to be completed without interference from a 3rd party. TA stressed that it is important to identify potential future needs and to insert those needs in a CR.

NC:  Neil wanted to make sure that regardless of the restrictions that are in place we need to make sure we could meet the water supply regulations.  He also stated that he wanted the land to remain open with the exception of making sure the needed improvements could be made for the maintenance of the water supply.  In addition, he wants to make sure the land remains open land regardless if it is watershed or not and he didn’t think Article 97 provided enough protection.

TR:  Tom wants the land to remain open and that restrictions on the use need to put in place to prevent development or construction not associated with the watershed supply, improvements or maintenance.  Tom believes a CR with the appropriate permitted uses for the water supply is needed.

JM: Wants to tie the hands of future officials for the future to prevent potential changes that could be made to the land. He stated that regardless if it was a CR or Article 97 he wanted to make sure the land was protected.

WA: Warren stated that he thought Article 97 was just an umbrella for which other protections in a CR could sit. He stated that a CR is needed to include the framework of intent along with specific details of what should be allowable and what should be restricted.

The question was raised regarding how hard it is to change a CR.  TA mentioned that to amend a CR all owners would have to approve the changes.  Tad also explained that at least two owners would be needed including a 3rd party.  If the State Dept. of Environment was involved they would also need to approve changes and that if an Article 97 was in place town approval along with legislature approval would be needed. Tad continued to state that a CR could be given to a Town committee but it did need a 3rd party and it was a good to have co-holders.

Review of Conservation Restriction developed by the Office of Fish & Wildlife

A very general review of the CR took place.   The discussion took place with the following comments being made.
  • CR allowed camping, hunting & fishing which may not be appropriate for the watershed property
  • It did contain protection of the watershed which we may want to replicate or do something similar with specific restrictions or allowances
  • In the CR there is a section pertaining to the prohibition of hazardous substances. It was unknown if this was a DEP requirement
  • The CR allowed motorized vehicles used for service & maintenance of the watershed but it prohibited recreational motorized vehicles.
General Discussion:

  • If a CR is developed it must be easy to interpret & Manage
  • DEP regulations, 22.20-B, have specific regulations for different zones in a water shed & it would be helpful to review these at an upcoming meeting
  • RF discussed the existing Forestry Management plan which hasn’t been kept up to date due to DPW conflicting project priorities.  WA pointed out that the Forest & Vegetation Management plans are designed to enhance water quality, provide $$ that can be used for road maintenance, drainage, etc. for the watershed area.  WA also suggested that we may be able to use the guidelines that were developed for the Quabbin Reservoir.
Next meeting:

  • JULY 12th
  • Agenda
  • CR Discussion
  • TA will work with RF to draft a potential CR
  • Follow-up on the letter to be sent to the Attorney General & the town’s legal counsel regarding if the property is covered by Article 97
Respectfully Submitted

Tom Romeo

Lenox Town Hall  6 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240   PH: (413) 637-5500