Engineers Detail New Concerns at IWC Hearing

WASHINGTON — The last three public hearings on the pro­posed resort and inn at 101 Wykeham Road have been domi­nated by the lawyers. The August 13 Inland Wetlands public hearing, continued from July 23, became the battle of the engineers.

In spite of the commission’s best efforts to give members of the public the floor before the attorneys and experts took over the meeting, more than three hours was dedicated to just that. IWC Chairman Mark Picton offered the opportunity to some 20 residents present to speak first but, in the end, only a hand­ful of residents addressed the commission.

This was the second round of the Inland Wetlands public hear­ings begun last month for the 27-acre project on the site of a for­mer private school. The proposed plan includes two main buildings housing a restaurant, bar, lobby, spa and swimming pool, as well as 54 rooms in cottages scattered around the site.

Paul Szymanski, the engineer for applicant, Matthew Klauer, and Wykeham Rise, spoke first .in response to concerns raised by the Inland Wetlands Commis­sion’s environmental expert, Dr. Michael Klemens. Dr. Klemens was hired on a limited basis to evaluate the plans for the commission and pinpoint issues he believed might require attention. Mr. Szymanski noted that he had only received Dr. Klemens report a day earlier and did not have enough time to craft a detailed response. Mr. Szymanski first questioned whether the IWC has jurisdic­tion in several of the areas broached in the Klemens report.

“We’ve provided reams of data within your jurisdictional bound­aries,” said Mr. Szymanski. “We do not feel that what is presented in [Dr. Klemens’] report is within your jurisdictional bound­ary of review.

“It’s unfortunate to be asked to respond to questions that don’t clarify the issues at hand but pepper the record with things wetlands might not have the right to examine,” he argued. Mr. Szymanski went on to respond to some of Dr. Klemens’ points in very broad terms, promising more specific answers in writing to the commission. Mr. Picton referred several questions to Town Attorney Michael Zizka, in attendance, regarding matters the commis­sion can and cannot consider as part of its process.

Mr. Zizka noted, “No matter which way the commission rules, it is almost certain there will be an appeal to the court.” This eventuality became even more apparent when Attorney Edward Hill, representing Wyke­ham neighbors Wendy and Eric Federer, introduced engineer Marc Goodin who had completed a peer review of the project plans. Mr. Goodin presented a docu­ment to the commissioners detailing some 100 points that he maintained either do not com­ply with the town’s regulations or sound engineering practice.

He spent the next hour and then some sharing many of those points with the commission and dwindling public. Mr. Goodin questioned the exis­tence of a long-term mainte­nance and oversight plan for the property, most notably the 26 rain gardens/proposed to handle rainwater.. He criticized the Land Tech environmental expert’s report as insufficient’. “There is no analysis of what’s in Kirby Brook,” he pointed out. “The report says there are no fish there. How do they know that? You can’t just assume that’s the case.”

Regarding the rain gardens, he observed, “These rain gardens are a massive part of the pro­ject’s environmental protection and will fail due to poor design. They only hold one inch of water for a short time and dissipate within a 24-hour period. “If it doesn’t and the next storm comes, water will flood down­stream. Plants in the way will die; mosquitoes will breed.”

Mr. Goodin questioned the planned use of the existing sep­tic system which, he said, has not been approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Along with his report, he pro­vided the commission with a list of questions he said should be asked, as well as suggested alter­natives. The commissioners and appli­cant will digest this material and comment at the next meeting, September 10.

Mr. Picton offered the floor to members of the public at several points during the meeting, but they were few. Three residents spoke about potential damage from the use of pesticides, fertil­izers and the resultant runoff into wetlands, as well as the importance of considering exist­ing wildlife in the area. Mr. Picton then queried com­mission members once again about hiring an independent environmental expert. He recom­mended Dr. Klemens, who pro­vided the initial report received by the commission, and, after some discussion, made a motion that Dr. Klemens be hired to pro­vide a complete, on-site analysis. There was no second to the motion, which died. The commissioners, awash in new information, opted to send both Dr. Klemens’ report and Mr. Goodin’s analysis to Land Tech Consultants, Inc., who have already been retained to review and evaluate the applicant’s plans, and then deliberate on whether another opinion is needed. Mr. Zizka pointed out that it is becoming “a bit late in the game to do that.” He explained that the commis­sion must determine whether the applicant has provided the commission with all the informa­tion required by the regulations. “If so, hiring someone to address those issues is reason­able and the applicant may be required to pay for it,” he explained. ”If you’re talking about things you wish you’d asked but aren’t required by the regs, it will be harder to justify.”

Following a motion by Commis­sioner Anthony Bedini to for­ward the reports to Land Tech for evaluation, the group agreed, with Mr. Picton the only dissent­ing vote. The Inland Wetlands public hearing will continue at 5 p.m. September 10 in Bryan Memori­al Town Hall. Public hearings will also continue before the Zoning Commission at 7:30 p.m. August 25 and the Zoning Board of Appeals at 7:30 p.m. August 28.

By Ann Compton – Voices News

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *