The Revere Conservation Commission (ConsComm) held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday (November 1) in the City Council Chamber. Chair John Shue and fellow commissioners Joseph LaValle, Robert Cassidy, Samantha Woodson, Nicholas Rudolph, and Brian Averbach were on hand for the meeting.
The first matter taken up was the request by the city to withdraw its Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) for the Wonderland Dog Track site that had been under consideration for a proposed new Revere High School. But with that project in limbo and the focus now on constructing a new high school on the site of the present high school, further action before the Conservation Commission on the Wonderland site is a moot issue.
The commissioners voted to allow the city to withdraw its application, with Cassidy dissenting.
The next matter was a request for a Notice of Intent (NOI) for 63 Mills Avenue by the homeowner, Katherine Aborn, who is adding a second floor onto the existing home. Construction will be in accordance with FEMA requirements by raising the first floor two feet above the floodplain. An architect working with the Aborns (who are seeking to add a second story onto their home) explained that the “house is very small, 750 sq. ft., and on a lot of 5400 sq. ft.”
He said that the Aborns are seeking to make the house compliant with FEMA rules by raising it three feet on the existing footprint. He further explained that the house sits at elevation 10 feet — the 100-year flood level — and that FEMA requires wood structures be two feet above the 100-year flood level. He said that the proposed three-feet of elevation will exceed the FEMA requirements. After the commissioners asked a few questions (and with Shue noting that the state DEP separately has imposed some requirements), they voted unanimously to issue the NOI.
“This is a good project and gets one more house out of the floodplain,” noted Shue.
The commission then took up the continuation of a hearing from last month pertaining to a request for an NOI at 6 Agawam Street and 1198 North Shore Road by Nefta Realty Trust, LLC, for the demolition of an existing building and used car lot to enable the construction of a 144-unit, 10-story building. The commission started the hearing last month, but because the DEP had not issued a File Number (which is a legal prerequisite before a local Conservation Commission can take action on an application), the matter was continued until this month.
Rick Salvo with Engineering Alliance Inc. presented the application. He noted that the building will be constructed on concrete piers with underground parking to allow for coastal storm flowage. He said the project meets and exceeds the FEMA and state requirements for construction in a flood plain.
He said that the project will handle storm water runoff from the roof by means of a subsurface infiltration facility and other stormwater will flow toward the edges of the property that are curbed, where they will enter three catch basins that in turn will be filtered through a treatment system, “all of which will be a vast improvement over the present situation, which does not handle or treat stormwater at all,” said Salvo.
The project previously had been taken up before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which has issued the necessary zoning variances for the project. There was no opposition and the commissioners unanimously approved the issuance of the NOI.
The next item on the agenda was a request for an NOI from The Neighborhood Developers, Inc., (TND) for the demolition of an existing building and construction of a mixed-use development with one level of parking and six levels of apartments at 110 Ocean Ave.
Katie Cruz, an engineer with Hancock and Associates, Inc., presented the application on behalf of TND, which already has received zoning relief from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the project, which will provide 48, two and three-family apartments for low-income residents. The existing site presently consists of a two-story building with an adjacent parking lot on .37 acres. The current building houses a group home, which will be maintained on the second floor of the project, wth the apartments on the upper floors.
Cruz said the project is within land subject to coastal storm flowage with an elevation of 12 feet and is within the 100-foot buffer zone for wetlands. The lower level of parking will be within the flood zone, but the living space will be at elevation 17, five feet above FEMA’s 100-year flood zone requirement. A stormwater management system will take water from the roof into a concrete system of chambers that will have a solid bottom and any overflow will drain into the city’s stormwater system on Ocean Ave.
There was no opposition and the commission unanimously approved the issuance of the NOI. “This is a good project,” noted Shue, a sentiment echoed by Woodson, while Averback pointed out that a new, modern building will be an improvement over the current, outdated structure and will fit in better with the present-day buildings in the Revere Beach area.
The commission then took up a request for an amendment to a previously-approved NOI by RS Realty Trust, which presented updated drawings for its new self-storage facility at 320 Charger St. showing additional flood openings at ground level to bring it into compliance with the FEMA floodplain rules. Salvo, who also presented this application, explained that after the ConsComm approved the issuance of the NOI, the state DEP intervened and requested that further measures be taken to provide flow-through for potential flooding on the site per the requirements of FEMA. The ConsComm unanimously approved the issuance of the Amended NOI.
The next item was a Request for Determination of Applicability at 11 Ellerton Street from the owner, Soeun Chea, who was seeking a negative determination for the installation of a drip edge along an existing driveway and sidewalk, a project that had been approved previously, but that never had been installed by the previous owner.
“Having toured the property, this is something very good that he is going to do and will help with the flooding on his property substantially,” said Averback. The commission voted to approve a negative determination of applicability, which means that the matter does not come within the purview of the ConsComm.
The next item was a request for an NOI by Robert Cordes of 23 Blake Street for the construction of a two-family dwelling on an existing foundation where a structure had stood until a fire destroyed it.
Salvo presented the application for the project, noting that the new building will be constructed within the footprint of the former structure. He said all of the living space and mechanicals will comply with FEMA requirements for elevation above the floodplain. There will be four openings under the building to allow for flow-through of flood water. In addition, the existing asphalt on the property will be removed.
There were no questions and the commission unanimously approved the issuance of the NOI.
“This is another project that takes a residence out of the floodplain,” said Shue. “It’s a good project.”
The commission then took up an enforcement action at 40 Arcadia St. The ConsComm had issued a notice of possible violations with a list of recommendations for corrective action. Shue said that the homeowner is not in compliance with the Order of Conditions that the ConsComm had issued.
The items of non-compliance cited by the commission in its letter included: a series of gazebos that have been constructed over an unknown surface that are now covered with tiles where native grasses and plants were supposed to be; the installation of an artificial grass carpet (that is not permeable) that is covering the lot; land that is sloping, instead of being graded, affecting water flow; and not displaying a sign with the Order of Conditions file number.
Edward Almeida, the owner of the property, appeared on his own behalf. Almeida agreed that the pavilions and artificial grass carpet were not part of the Order of Conditions. However, Almeida noted that a property dispute regarding a neighbor’s fence that Almeida said encroaches by 18 feet on his property has prevented him from completing the grading as required by the ConsComm. He said that the issue of the property line presently is pending in the courts. He also suggested that the artificial turf he has installed is permeable because of holes located at intervals in the turf surface. However, Shue noted that the holes do not make the artificial grass permeable and suggested that it is contributing to a flooding problem at the neighbor’s property.
The parties agreed that the ConsComm will issue a memo that will set forth a time-line for compliance once the court issues a ruling on the fence issue, with Almeida to submit a new NOI pertaining to the gazebos, the grading of the property, and the turf.