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By Erin Post
A two-lot subdivision on Senor Road got the okay from the Warren Development Review Board (DRB) last week after one last debate about a stream on the property.
The application from landowner Bruce Fowler has come before the DRB several times since April as the board worked through a host of issues, including whether road frontage requirements were met, whether meadows would be adequately protected, and whether water on the 4.9-acre property should be considered a stream.
This last question seemed to be resolved at a July hearing, when engineer Mark Bannon told the board that he discovered the United State Geologic Survey (USGS) had mapped the 'water feature,' making it a stream by definition.
RELOCATED THE STREAM
As result, Bannon said he modified building envelopes and relocated the stream to create the 50-foot buffer that the town may approve through conditional review.
But, at the August 22 hearing, attorney Dick King argued that the water -- because it's now been defined as a stream -- cannot be moved anywhere. He pointed out that the work would require entering the buffer, something he said the town's zoning ordinance prohibits.
"The 'no development' is real clear," King said, citing a section of the ordinance that states that "no development, excavation, landfill or grading" is allowed within a stream buffer, and that "vegetation will be left in an undisturbed state."
CHALLENGING TO APPLY
But Warren zoning administrator Miron Malboeuf said that this section of the ordinance is "challenging to apply in blanket way in every situation." The intent, he said, was to protect the buffer whenever possible but to "make it better than it was" if it is disturbed.
Attorney David Olenick, representing the applicant, argued that the stream will comply with zoning requirements once it is relocated, and that the proposed plan actually stands to improve the water quality and overall situation.
"It's going to be much better off than it is now," he said.
DRB member Jeff Schoellkopf referenced a clause that states that the intent of the buffer requirement is "to prevent soil erosion, protect wildlife habitat and maintain water quality." Because this particular stream does not drain into a natural river or pond, he said any work within the buffer should have little effect on those issues.
"This is totally not connected to the rest of the watershed," he said.
Whether the application meets road frontage requirements also came up for debate, but the board re-affirmed its conclusion that the 200-foot frontage requirement was met by combining frontage on the new 50-foot right of way with frontage on Senor Road.
The board attached several conditions to its approval:
• Property deeds must incorporate language requiring maintenance of the pond that straddles the lot line.
• The applicant must secure necessary state permits, including a wastewater permit.
• The proposed right of way must be reduced to no more than a three percent slope within 35 feet of the intersection with Senor Road.