The Revere Conservation Commission (ConsComm) held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, March 1, in the City Council Chambers.
Chairman John Shue and fellow commissioners Joseph LaValle, Brian Averbach, Robert Cassidy, and Nicholas Rudolph were on hand for the meeting.
The principal portion of the meeting concerned an application for a Notice of Intent (NOI) to construct a pair of new duplex residences at 6 and 14 Beverly St. The project has come before the commission in the past under the previous owners of the property. Although the commission rejected the application on each occasion, the most recent rejection was appealed by the previous owner to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), which overruled the Revere commissionâ€™s decision and issued an NOI.
However, that owner allowed the NOI to lapse, thus requiring the new owner of the property to come before the commission once again to seek an NOI.
An engineer from Hayes Engineering of Wakefield presented the application. He acknowledged the opposition of homeowners in the neighborhood, who contend that construction on the two vacant plots of land will exacerbate flooding problems in the area.
He said that the developer has proposed installing a pump and pipe that will tie into the cityâ€™s stormwater drainage system on Arcadia St. and that will improve the drainage for the entire neighborhood.
However, that will require one of the homeowners on Arcadia St., whose properties abut the Beverly St. lots in the rear, to grant an easement for the pipe to run through their property to Arcadia St. In return, those homeowners would be able to tie-in their present basement sump pumps into the new pipeline to discharge into the cityâ€™s Arcadia St. stormwater drainage system (which flows into the ocean).
The engineer noted that the proposed pump-and-drain pipe system is not required for the project, but is being offered by the developer as a benefit for the entire neighborhood. He further noted that even without the pumping system, drainage from the site will be captured and contained in a large catch basin on the site itself.
Still, the proposal was met with questions from the neighbors.
â€œEvery time it rains, the basin in front of my house just flows right to my house,â€ said Anthony Parziale of 51 Arcadia St.
Lorena Lanza of 96 Arcadia St. noted that the ditch on Arcadia fills within two hours of a rain storm and that pumping more water up to Arcadia only will create more problems.
Steven Fiore of 3 Ellerton St. (which is located at the corner of Argyle and Ellerton) said, â€œWhat troubles me is that weâ€™re going to help our neighbors on Beverly St., but put more water onto Arcadia and Argyle Sts.â€
Ward 5 City Councillor John Powers spoke against the project.
â€œIâ€™ve been coming before the Conservation Commission opposing development on that site since Iâ€™ve been on the City Council,â€ said Powers. â€œEach and every time the Conservation Commission did not issue an Order of Conditions and Iâ€™m grateful for that. My feeling is no one down there should be impacted by stormwater. We just spent money for all of the catch basins on Arcadia, Ellerton, and York and tripled the capacity of the storm drains down there.
â€œWe just cleaned the county ditch from Wonderland all the way to Arcadia St.,â€ continued Powers. â€œI would hope that this gets continued in order to speak to the City Engineer in order to see what can be done for the residents of this area.
â€œIf weâ€™re going to do this, then letâ€™s make sure we do it right,â€ said Powers. â€œBut if not, then it should be denied.â€
â€œIâ€™ve watched the water in that field (of the proposed construction site) for 50 years,â€ said Tony Chiulli of 50 Oak Island St. â€œThat lot was full of water after a storm in January. None of the catch basins and storm drains on Oak Island St. (a roadway that is under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation) are in working order. The water runs down Arcadia into the catch basins there. The DCR is aware that their catch basins and storm drains donâ€™t work.
â€œThe DCR should be contacted to see whether theyâ€™d be willing to do something to alleviate the problem on Oak Island St.,â€ Chiulli added.
The commissioners then spoke on the issue.
â€œIâ€™ve always opposed this in the past and am doing so this time,â€ said LaValle, the senior member of the commission. â€œThis project only will add to the problems that are there now.â€
â€œWe have a project before us that has been approved by the state DEP previously,â€ said Shue. â€œIâ€™ve gone through the Wetlands Protections Act and I havenâ€™t found anything where this is not compliant.
â€œDoes the project as proposed meet the standards of the act?â€ Shue continued. â€œIâ€™ve looked at it and it does. This will not exacerbate the (water) situation for anybody there and the developer will be increasing the size of the retention area. The reality is that most of those houses in the area never should have been built.â€
Shue then offered a motion to approve the issuance of the NOI with an Order of Conditions pertaining to the leaching basin, increasing the size of the depression on-site, and, if there can be an agreement with the neighbors with the approval of the city, for a pumping system to Arcadia St.
However, the board voted 2-2-1 on the question (with Shue and Averback in favor, Cassidy and Lavalle opposed, and Rudolph abstaining), thus rejecting the application.
The developer now has recourse to appeal that decision to the state DEP, which has the ability to override the local commission, which the DEP has done in the past.
By contrast, the request for an NOI for a project at 465 Revere Beach Blvd. met no opposition from neighbors.
Rick Salvo Salvo from Engineering Alliance presented the application to the commission. He said that the liong-time owner, Ramona Giuffre, is seeking permission for the re-construction of what presently is a five-unit apartment building into an 11-unit apartment building on the property.
â€œAlmost 100 percent of this site already has been disturbed and is occupied by existing buildings and paved areas,â€ said Salvo, who noted that the project has received a special permit from the City Council to alter a pre-existing, non-conforming structure to expand the non-conformity by increasing the height of the building and the number of units.
In response to a question from Shue, Salvo said that the project will be able to self-contain rainwater from a 100-year rain storm in order to handle up to eight inches of rain water in a s24-hour period.
The commissioners unanimously approved the issuance of an NOI with the usual conditions.
The commission also took up the matter of approving a modified plan for an apartment building on Salem St. which was necessitated because of paperwork errors in the original application.
The commission approved the project after the initial hearing, despite heated opposition from nearby residents, but none of the opponents showed up at this hearing. The commission unanimously approved the issuance of a new NOI.
In another matter on the agenda, the commission continued until next month taking action on an application by the city for an NOI pertaining to improvements at Leach Park in Beachmont.
The project involves the replacement of a wood fence, removal of tree stumps, construction of ADA-accessible entrance, the installation of an ADA-compliant 2200 sq. ft.walkway, and planting of a rain garden and indigenous trees.
City Planner Frank Stringi told the commission that this is â€œa public improvement to a passive park. There were three homes on the site prior to the Blizzard of â€˜78, but FEMA brought out the homeowners and deeded the property to be used as a park in perpetuity.â€
The commission was unable to take a vote because of the need for updated plans that will be presented at its next meeting in April.