Letter to Conservation Commission
Shutesbury, January 3, 2022
We the undersigned Shutesbury Montague Road neighbors want to first express our gratitude for your service to the town and its residents. Your many hours of volunteer work are a gift to the community when performed in normal circumstances, and more so in these trying times of COVID and Climate Crisis we are all living through. We also recognize that for the last two years-precisely amid these unusual circumstances- you have faced the unprecedented task of assessing five large solar ANRADs submitted by Cowls/AMP to the town Shutesbury. The following comments are meant to be helpful and supportive of the Commission’s work regarding the Montague/Carver ANRAD submitted by TRC in September 2021.
A. We believe the ANRAD in question does not provide a complete and accurate delineation of wetlands for the following reasons:
1. The peer review submitted by Stockman Associates on December 22, 2021, notes that “the Buffer Zone boundary associated with Flag 27 on Page 33 does not appear accurate (too narrow) and [that] The Commission should consider a finding that the boundary of Bank associated with streamS1 has not been delineated, reviewed, and approved.” It further notes that” the Commission should consider a finding that the Bordering Vegetated Wetland boundary for W-GR-2 demarcated by flags 155-164 and 105-164 has not been reviewed and
approved”. Our understanding is that the wetlands identified in the ANRAD have not been accurately and fully delineated.
2. The second problem is that the ANRAD does not identify the hydrological network of streams connecting the wetlands. You can’t protect what you don’t see. Contrary to the ANRAD’s depiction, the wetlands in the Montague/Carver area are not geographically isolated. DEP and GIS maps clearly show that the wetlands are interconnected by an hydrological network of surface streams. Additionally, Map 6 of Water Resources (attached) of the Town of Shutesbury Open Space Plan shows that the entire proposed Montague Rd. ANRAD site is located in a unique and critical natural recharge area for our drinking water.
B. We are aggrieved that this ANRAD’s failure to fully and completely delineate the geographically connected wetlands located on Montague/Carver Road, constitutes a threat to the quality of our drinking water.
C. We are also concerned and aggrieved that the two major omissions noted above effectively limit the ability and capacity of the Conservation Commission to carry out its mission stated in the Shutesbury General Wetlands Protection Bylaw to fully “protect the wetlands, related water resources, and adjoining land areas in the Town of Shutesbury by controlling activities deemed by the Conservation Commission likely to have a significant or cumulative effect upon wetland values, including but not limited to the following: public or private water supply; groundwater and groundwater quality and surface water and surface water quality”. To put simply, you cannot protect what is not identified. And what is not fully identified is the hydrological network that connects the wetlands, and our drinking water resources.
D. It is our understanding that SCC does not feel empowered to extend its jurisdiction beyond the narrow delineation due to the precedence set by past practices. This, however, is a new ANRAD submitted in September 2020. More so the Montague/Carver ANRAD site presents a unique situation because there is strong visual evidence that runoff water from the proposed site would enter roaring brook, other streams and the underground water table supplying our water wells (see attached photographs as examples).
E. We therefore ask the following steps to be taken:
a. That the Shutesbury Conservation Commission extend its jurisdiction over the complete drainage basin for the parcel under consideration as authorized in “Wetlands Enforcement” Mass DEP Section 3.1 (Nov 2004) stating the following:
“Municipal jurisdiction under wetlands bylaw/ordinance: If your community has a wetland bylaw or ordinance, the commission’s jurisdiction may be defined more broadly than under the Wetlands Protection Act and Wetlands Regulations. Additional resource areas may be protected, and additional activities may be regulated. Commissions with wetland bylaws or ordinances have independent authority to assert jurisdiction over activities in or near resource areas. Determinations of Applicability, Orders of Conditions, Enforcement Orders, and other documents issued under local bylaws or ordinances should clearly state that they are being issued pursuant to local authority.”
b. That the current ANRAD be denied.
c. That any decisions regarding a future ANRAD for Montague/Carver be taken only until such time that a complete and thorough assessment is made by an independent professional hydrogeologist.