Conservation Commission Reviews Davis Road Boardwalk, Pedestrian Bridges, Other Projects

By Elizabeth Hacala

At their September 13 meeting, the Conservation Commission heard a variety of cases regarding projects throughout Bedford.

Fawn Lake Conservation Area

The Commission was asked if they would permit work in the Fawn Lake area to bury a fiber optics line for the town’s network in an area that already has other buried utilities. Town Engineer Adrienne St. John represented the Department of Public Works in the request for a “determination of applicability.” The location for installing the fiber optics line currently has minimal invasive species which would be removed as part of the work. Elizabeth Bagdonas, Conservation Commission Administrator, stated that this was a good area to do this work because, although there is some evidence of invasive species, they did not have a strong foothold as they did in other parts of town. Bagdonas also stated that the buried fiber optic line didn’t interfere with the land being used as a conservation area. The Commission voted unanimously to allow work in the area because it will improve the site and there is no long-term impact on the land.

Washington Street and Lantern Lane Pedestrian Bridges

The Commission opened a public hearing regarding proposed work on pedestrian bridges currently under design, one on Washington Street and the other on Lantern Lane. Town Engineer St. John presented the project with Matthew Lundsted from Comprehensive Environmental Inc. who had prepared the design drawings.

The project would construct two bridges over the 100-year floodplain of each stream. The bridge off Washington Street would include a switchback ramp on one side and be flush with the grade on the other. This design is intended to make the bridge accessible while discouraging any motorized vehicles such as ATVs. St. John and Lundsted described how the area would be re-graded and planted to balance out the installation of the bridge platforms.

Abutter Dorothy Blakeley was concerned the path encouraged pedestrian traffic through her property. She requested a fence be installed to encourage people to remain on the trail and not cut through private property, noting there is a fence currently budgeted in the project. The current plan calls for screening planting along the end of the trail but the Commission did not see any reason that a fence could not be constructed in that area to encourage people to stay on the trail. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has not yet issued a file number for this project so the hearing was continued until the next meeting.

54 Middlesex Turnpike

Pamela Brown of Brown & Brown represented her client, Curran, LLC regarding a modification to plans at 54 Middlesex Turnpike. She had previously presented the Commission plans to change the building to remove two large sets of concrete steps with one glass atrium containing stairs and elevator, thus making the building ADA compliant.
As the client went further into design it became clear the atrium needed to be larger and they wanted to add a loading dock so deliveries were not made through the main doors. This was submitted as a new request rather than a prior determination. The plans Brown presented showed a net replacement of impervious surfaces with pervious surfaces. The maps submitted were difficult to read and after considerable discussion about exactly where gains and losses were being made, the Commission voted a negative finding of applicability, allowing the applicant to apply for a building permit, with three conditions: the submittal of larger stamped detailed drawings of the changes to impervious and pervious surfaces, removal of any impervious surface from the 25-foot buffer area, and withdrawal of the prior request.

Davis Road/Revolutionary Ridge

The Commission opened a public hearing on proposed work on a boardwalk along the south side of Davis Road as well as wetlands reclamation at Revolutionary Ridge. Town Engineer St. John presented the project with Matthew Lundsted from Comprehensive Environmental Inc. The boardwalk would be separated from the roadway by a guardrail and would have handrails on both sides. The boardwalk would also be wide and strong enough to allow the sidewalk plow to clear it in winter. Because of the terrain in the area, it is impossible to make the necessary improvements to other wetlands along Davis Road. As a result, the project proposes clearing debris from a wetlands site off Revolutionary Ridge to improve those wetlands as an offset.

Abutter Jon Chan expressed some concern about the impact of the project on stonewalls on his property. St. John and the Commission assured him there should not be any impact on his property and if for some reason there were, restoration of the affected area would be included in the project. Chan also asked about the safety of people using the boardwalk, given how quickly cars travel on the road. Lundsted indicated that the guardrail between the road surface and boardwalk would provide additional safety and hopefully traffic calming in that area. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has not yet issued a file number for this project; the project was continued until the next meeting.

South Road

A section of South Road developed a sinkhole when an old metal arched culvert pipe failed. The Department of Public Works installed a temporary repair and St. John requested Commission approval of the plan to install replacement pipes. The DPW is planning to install two smaller pipes to provide the same water flow while also minimizing the impact on the area. There is a DEP file number for this project and the Commission voted unanimously that the work could proceed with the contingency of having silt socks on site during construction in case they are needed to ensure downstream water quality.

Editor’s note: For a detailed description of how projects are permitted by the Conservation Commission and the different types of determinations the Commission can make, please visit the Commission’s website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/conservation-commission/pages/permitting-process


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