IWC Reviews ‘Difficult Situation’ With Boggs Hill Road Wetlands Violation
Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) discussed a pending application regarding unapproved wetland fill on a site in town during its November 9 meeting.
On the agenda was IW Application #22‐26 by Pedro Valentin, for property located at 182 Boggs Hill Road, for the removal of fill and mitigation of wetlands.
IWC members present were Chair Sharon Salling, Secretary Michael McCabe, Craig Ferris, Scott Jackson, Stephanie Kurose, Kendall Horch, and Suzanne Guidera, as well as the town’s Senior Land Use Enforcement Officer Steve Maguire and Land Use Enforcement Officer Kiana Maisonet.
Salling started off by informing the commission that the applicant was not in attendance. However, soil scientist James “Jim” McManus, of JMM Wetland Consulting Services LLC, was present and able to speak to what is happening.
“Back on May 2 of this year, I visited the site to see what exactly happened. Actually, the town staff contacted me and said, ‘We had a problem out there, and it looks like we had some wetland filled’ and would I go out to look and see what was going on,” McManus said.
He explained that he met with Maguire there and confirmed there were wetlands filled.
According to his submitted paperwork to the commission, “The wetland area that is adjacent to the area of recent disturbance is a seasonally saturated/flooded wooded swamp.”
While he was at the Boggs Hill Road property with Maguire, he saw a retaining wall and riprap was installed. The latter is loose stone that is used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.
McManus put flags up to indicate the boundary, and then made a restoration/mitigation plan, which he summarized to the commission.
“If you look at Figure 2, I’m proposing that they move back the retaining wall 15 feet in one area and then squeeze it 10 feet in another area and remove any soil material and any riprap. Then reestablish the wall in the new location and plant with shrubs and a wetland seed mix,” he said.
McManus later mentioned he also created a soil and erosion plan.
Salling asked if the slope would be made more gradual where the riprap is and how safe it would be. At this point in the meeting, Valentin walked in and was able to respond to Salling himself.
“I was assuming I was going to cut it back to the original grade that was there,” Valentin said.
Salling asked how he decided on moving it 15 feet.
He detailed that he was trying to “strike a balance between what it used to look like to what it looks like now” and “utilize the backyard better.”
Salling opened the floor for other IWC members to voice their questions and comments. Commissioner Jackson asked if a contractor has been hired and was told not yet.
“The seeding and planting will not take place until springtime,” McManus added.
There was also discussion on expanding the wetlands in relation to where the pool is that the previous homeowner built.
Maguire explained, “I did a little digging and figured out how this whole pool and shed thing happened. In 2005, they came to the [Inland Wetland] Commission to get approval of the pool and the shed. The unfortunate part was that the map that was used for the application was not an as-built of the house, it was the proposed house before it was constructed, and the house was subsequently built about 20 feet back.”
Therefore, the approved pool and shed went right up to the wetland.
“Obviously that was a violation, but it was in the past with the previous owner, so I don’t think it makes sense to rehash that. But I do feel that all the new fill should be removed,” Maguire said.
Maguire told how in 2018 he did the administrative permit for grading the upland area and removing a few trees but fast forward to now and a “huge area” has been filled in.
Salling said it is “a difficult situation” because it is a violation, and that she would like “less of an arbitrary decision” pertaining to the amount of land being remedied.
While it is nice to have a bigger backyard, she said, the area was originally wetlands.
“I think you really need to think this through … If there is some way to give back, to add back some wetlands, we certainly are open to that,” Salling said.
Maguire asked what type of wall would be built after the grading is done, and the applicant was not sure at the time.
McManus noted that they would not be creating wetlands. He said, “The majority of the fill was placed on top of wetlands, so we’d be taking fill off of the wetland and let mother nature, with our help, bring it back to a functioning system.”
Salling recommended everyone on the commission go to the site for an initial or follow-up inspection.
“If possible, I would like to have another discussion on this before the year ends,” Salling said.
The next regularly scheduled IWC meeting is Wednesday, December 14, however clerk Dawn Fried noted the town would likely be canceling all events that evening.
With that in mind, they hoped to create a special meeting on Thursday, December 15, in a room to be determined, to continue discussing this violation.
For more information, visit newtown-ct.gov/inland-wetlands-commission.
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.