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Written by Al Norman   
Thursday, 05 June 2008
By Sprawl-Busters News Service

If the Greenfield Conservation Commission is going to vote in favor of an unnamed Big Box store on the French King Highway, it's going to have to ignore much of what its own consultant has reported this week. Most of the peer reviewer's letter focuses on 'wetland 4' which lies right in the middle of the developer's proposed big box store.

On June 10th at 6:30 pm in the Sanderson St. Youth Center, the town's peer reviewer on the Ceruzzi Wal-Mart project will present its 22 page letter to the Conservation Commission. The Norfolk Ram Group's second peer review letter confirms many of the points big box opponents have made during the Ceruzzi hearings: 

1. Wetland 4 plays a role in protecting wildlife habitat.

2. Wetland 4 provides flood control.

3. Wetland 4 is "significant" under state law, which means it 'plays a role' in protecting Wetlands Protection Act interests.

4. Wetland 4 was contaminated by Mackin who will benefit financially from the sale of this property. To declare now this wetland 4 is not significant because of contamination "would in effect reward the landowners for contaminating wetlands on their property."

5. Mackin has apparently created his own hardship by contaminated his land.

6. Ceruzzi should be asked to prepare a detailed alternatives analysis to the proposed project design.

7. The 8.25 acres of land that is developable after wetland 4 is unharmed, appears to be adequate for Ceruzzi to achieve the project purpose. Cerruzzi should be asked to explain why a suitable retail development could not be constructed on 8.25 acres.

8. Mackin has "significantly disturbed" wetland 4 during their remediation process, and allowed significant quantities of silt to get into wetland 4, which may have compromised data on wildlife collected in 2008.

9. Alternative layouts that preserve wetland 4 have not been provided.

10. No information on cost estimates or economic feasibility have been submitted to support the need for a large scale project.

11. The Conservation Commission before it considers replication of a wetland as a last resort must find that the LANDOWNER has been deprived of all economic use of the land. Ceruzzi so far has referred only to the developer's economic needs--but its the landowner who must show he cannot use the land for any economic use.

12. Cerruzzi submitted no data about wetland 4 being a vernal pool from 2008.

13. The developer's alternatives analysis does not fully evaluate the alternatives available.

14. Reducing the size of each parking space would free up 5,200 square feet, more than twice the size of wetland 4.

15. The project could be redesigned to keep the developer's intent while still maintaining the existing environmental characteristics of the site.

This report from the town's own peer reviewer shows that many of the criticisms raised by local residents were valid, and that this project has not met many of the requirements in the state and local laws that are needed to approve a plan. The 3 standards needed to allow replication as a last resort have not been met. No matter how pretty a new wetland might be, the Conservation Commission first has to find the project meets the local standard. The Mayor will not like the peer reviewer's letter, but the wetlands science in the letter cannot be altered to meet political needs.

The public is invited to the presentation of the NRG letter is June 10th at 6:30 pm at the Sanderson St. Youth Center.

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