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The Conservation Commission meets last week.

Adams Conservation Commission Against Reservoir Decommissioning

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Conservation Commission wants to reopen the Bassett Brook Reservoir that was recently closed by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
 
Commissioner Thomas Robinson reiterated his disappointment last week that the reservoir was decommissioned instead of being restored.
 
"There are only so many class 1 streams coming off of Greylock Mountain – that is drinkable water," he said. "We have 100 years of protecting that area and what are we opening ourselves up to?"
 
The Board of Health in June was notified by DEP that the reservoir, which is actually located in Cheshire, can no longer be considered the town's secondary water supply because of a lack of functionality. In an emergency, the water would have to be filtered.
 
Robinson said he wished the Board of Health reached out to the Conservation Commission to discuss the decommissioning. 
 
"My concern is that they took a position without a discussion with those involved in wetlands, rivers, and conservation," he said at last Thursday's meeting. "I think they didn't use us as a resource."
 
Robinson said instead of dismantling the dam the money could be used to dredge the reservoir and make it usable again.
 
The commission did not have a specific course of action, but Robinson said he would bring up his concern with the town administrator.
 
"I think we should pick this fight honestly from a conservation standpoint," Robinson said.
 
In other business, the commission gave a negative determination, meaning it did not fall under the wetlands act, on a proposed solar array project at 101 Grove St., the location of Duke's Sand and Gravel.
 
Jeff Randall of Hill Engineering, representing Sun Raise Development LLC, said a portion of the gravel pit will be regraded for a solar array. This includes one of the two wash ponds.
 
"We want to fill this whole thing in and grade it off," he said.
 
Commissioner James Fassell noted that wash ponds are man-made and out of their jurisdiction.
 
"These ponds are exempt from being a resource and are part of the operation," he said. "They can be filled up one day and sand the next day you can do what you want with them." 
 
Randall said a portion of the pit will still be mined and the proposed array would be away from the riverfront and buffer zone. 
 
This was confirmed in a letter from the Mark Stimpson of the DEP who wrote: "It is very nice that something other than agricultural and forest areas be turned into solar."
 
The commission also heard from Matt Kelly, a wetland scientist representing National Grid, to go over a mitigation plan for the Zylonite Substation property.
 
Kelly said the plan would be an addendum to its notice of intent to make improvements to the substation that was applied for this time last year.
 
"They dug a little deeper into the site and they found that there was some unauthorized fill on site from the early 1930s," he said. "So that soil is all inside the existing fence substation and National Grid didn't have any records of approval ... so they agreed to mitigate the wetlands up to an acre of historic fill."
 
He said the mitigation would protect rare plants, wildlife, and control invasive species.
 
"We want to replicate an area that was there prior to agricultural use so we are really trying to create a forested floodplain landscape," he said. "Something that would be accurate to the Hoosac River floodplain."
 
He added that the company plans to purchase the entire lot and possibly gift it to the town if the Conservation Commission was willing to be stewards of it.
 
The commissioners approved the mitigation plan and said although they were willing to take the land they would have to figure out this process first.
 
"It is conservation and that is what we are all about," Commissioner Corey Bishop said. "Put it under our control it is a no-brainer. Then we know it is protected."

Tags: floodplain,   reservoirs,   solar array,   

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Adams, Economic Officials Explain 40R Housing Bylaw

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

A petition is asking officials to slow down approval of the zoning amendment until it can be reviewed more fully.
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents remain wary of a proposal to adopt the state's 40R legislation that would provide incentives for reusing old buildings for both the town and developers.
 
But Tuesday's more than two-hour meeting explaining step by step the statute, the definitions, and how a Smart Growth Overlay District would work seemed to temper some of the controversy. 
 
"None of us will leave until we have every question at least answered," said Town Administrator Jay Green to the well-attended gathering at the Visitors Center. "You may not like the answer. You may not agree with it, but we're going to answer the question for you."
 
The town's consideration of the 15-year-old Chapter 40R caused an uproar over the past couple months as many residents believed it referred to public or low-income housing. A number of posts on Facebook detailed problems with area public housing developments that are not 40R and expressed worry that the town would become a magnet for low-income housing. 
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