The Revere Conservation Commission held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday evening, May 4, in the City Council Chamber.
Chairman John Shue and commissioners Heather Legere, Ann Raponi, Joseph LaValle, Nicholas Rudolph, and Brian Averback were on hand for the meeting.
The principal business at the meeting for the commission involved a hearing on a Notice of Intent (NOI) application by HYM Investment Group, the owner of the former Suffolk Downs race track, which is in the process of developing a massive, mixed-use project on the former race track site, of which 109 acres are located in the City of Boston and 52 acres are in the City of Revere.
According to HYM’s web site, the redevelopment will transform the 161 acres into a new, resilient mixed-use neighborhood served by two stops on the MBTA Blue Line. Suffolk Downs will create 10,000 new units of housing to meet critical demand in the market, and will provide a mix of senior, workforce, family, and young professional housing, including over 900 affordable units.
Hotels, two new retail squares, and office space for life sciences and innovative companies will create a new economic hub on previously unused land. Forty acres of new open space will provide for community gathering and recreation, while also contributing to Suffolk Downs’ forward-thinking resiliency design to effectively manage for climate change and sea-level rise.
The specific issue at the meeting before the Conservation Commission was the presentation by HYM’s engineers of a plan for the dewatering — the draining of groundwater — at the location of the first two buildings that HYM plans to construct in Revere, both of which will be near Washburn Ave.
Michael Borowski from HYM appeared before the commission to explain that the lots in question, R-9 and R-10, will be the sites of the first buildings to be completed for the Suffolk Downs project.
Liz Clarke, an engineer with Beals and Thomas, explained that they will be excavating to a depth of two stories for the foundations, a depth at which they expect to come across groundwater. She told the commission that there are two storage areas on site into which they will pump the water to the surface into the natural depressions on the property, with any additional water being discharged into nearby Sales Creek if the ponds fill up.
Bill Gibbons from the Vertex Companies, LLC, explained that the entire dewatering process will be tightly-regulated and monitored by the Mass. DEP and the federal EPA. The water will go through two treatment processes if necessary before it finally is discharged from the retention ponds.
Commissioner Heather Legere asked about the potential impacts to adjacent neighborhoods and properties.
“We are fortunate that we drain into ourselves and that we do not discharge into neighboring properties,” said Clarke.
It later was noted that the Washburn Ave. neighborhood is significantly elevated above the grade of both the Suffolk Downs property and the creek, so that the discharge, even during a heavy rain, will not impact the neighborhood..
Clarke also noted that there will be an environmental observer on site who will serve as a point person for the EPA, DEP, and the Conservation Commission.
Borowski told the commission that HYM expects the buildings on R-9 and R-10 to be completed and ready for occupancy by the summer of 2024.
The commission was unable to take a vote on the NOI however, because the state DEP has not issued a File Number, which under the law is required to be issued before a local Conservation Commission can take action on an NOI.
The applicant will have to reappear at the commission’s next meeting, by which time hopefully the DEP will have issued a File Number so that the commission can take a formal vote.
The same fate greeted the NOI application of Anthony Zizzo, who is seeking to construct a two-family home on his property at 50 Broadsound Ave.
Rick Salvo from Engineering Alliance, Inc. in Saugus appeared before the commission representing the property owner. Salvo explained that the property is barely in the floodplain — by about eight inches to a foot. Salvo said the plan is to raise the grade directly adjacent to the dwelling to remove the area from the flood plain. They will install two trees and a front walk sidewalk There also will be two, 500 gallon dry wells to hold rainwater run-off from the roof.
Salvo said the construction will take about eight to nine months and told the commissioners that construction workers will park on the property itself and the dumpster will be on the property.
“What they’re doing will increase the value of the properties in the neighborhood,” said commissioner Brian Averback, who said he lives in the area. “They will take something that is empty and make it really nice. This will be a benefit to the neighborhood on Broadsound Ave.”
There were no opponents to the application. The matter was continued to the next meeting for a final vote while the commission awaits the DEP to issue a File Number for the NOI.
In other matters, the commission addressed an anonymous complaint about potential illegal dumping in the marsh area near 80 Union St.
Commissioner Nicholas Rudolph told his fellow commissioners that he had visited the site and observed large piles of soil on the property. Rudolph said the owner agreed to remove the piles of dirt by May 31.
In light of the action being taken by the owner, the commission issued a potential notice of violation, which is a step below the issuance of a more stringent Enforcement Order.
The commissioners briefly discussed the Enforcement Orders that the commission issued to the owners of 8 & 10 Marshview Terrace last fall when it was discovered that those property owners had dumped rubble in the back of their properties in order to grade and level their backyards, which are within the wetlands area of Rumney Marsh, which is a designated Area of Environmental Concern (ACEC).
However, Shue informed his fellow commissioners that the homeowners immediately took action to comply with the Enforcement Order, which required them to remove the fill material and restore the wetlands they had disrupted.
“They responded very well,” said Shue. “They have done all of the plantings that were required and their wetlands scientist inspected the premises. We will make a site visit and then issue an amended enforcement order.
“The homeowners have been very cooperative, but we still will need to monitor it,” Shue added. “They will have to take pictures every six months for the next two years to make sure that the wetlands they damaged will return and flourish.”
The next meeting of the Conservation Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1.