Video: Conservation Commission Meeting of 1/22/09; Non-Compliance with Wetlands Protection Agreements; Kohl Asked to Revise Condo Proposal Again

Here is a Google video of a large portion of the Conservation Commission meeting of January 22. This video is 3 hours and 7 minutes long, and was recorded by Adam Cohen. See portions of a Gazette article on this hearing, pictures of the Kohl condo proposal as reviewed, the conservation staff report and a critique from HYLA Ecological Services. At this hearing, members of the commission continued to press Kohl for less disturbance within the 35-foot buffer zone. Concern was also expressed about the density of units in the proposal. The meeting was continued to February 26 at 6:00pm.

Of note during the EBD (David Ruggles Center and live-work space) portion of the hearing were general concerns raised by Land Use and Conservation Planner Bruce Young. He finds
many property owners around Northampton are not giving their wetlands buffer zones the respect that was originally promised. No-disturb zones are being violated and enforcement is a tedious process.

Video: 0:04:07-1:10:00
Continuation of a Notice of Intent filed by Jim Harrity on behalf of
EBD Corp. for the construction of a mixed-use building, associated
parking areas, driveways, sidewalks, utilities, landscaping and
stormwater management system. Project is proposed to take place in the
100-foot buffer zone of Bordering Vegetated Wetlands. Project location
is 225 Nonotuck Street, Map Id 23A-281.

Selected highlights
0:39:00-0:51:01… Bruce Young: “Honestly I have too much going on [to closely monitor EBD’s planting plan], and part of that ‘too much’ is enforcing encroachments on projects similar to this. So, to add to this, I’d like to say that I would recommend that the commission require large boulders two feet on center across the entire encroachment zone…four feet in diameter boulders two feet apart… I think two feet keeps people from mowing and creates a border…. Because I’ve spent a huge amount of time going to these projects now that we had, we started a few years ago at 30 feet apart, then we went to 25 feet apart, now we’re at 15. Actually, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of sending enforcement orders to people and having them deny them in the mail, and then have it come back to me, and then having to send one certified mail, and then have them deny it three times before I have to issue a…someone to deliver a subpeona, and then this is a huge waste of time for someone who is mowing down a wetland that is a…what begins in the process as a fair kind of negotiation but then turns into…it gets sold to one person who gets sold to another and people…no longer respect that line…

“I’ll show you a picture of another project where we asked for two-foot diameter [boulders] and I have a picture of my shoe next to it and my shoe actually is about two inches longer, and I know I don’t have two-foot long feet. I have big feet but they’re not that big. So I’d prefer to say four foot in diameter. Large boulders. They can’t be moved. You can’t pick them up. You can’t roll them out of the way and mow the wetland. We’re talking long term…

[Responding to a Harrity’s suggestion of a white picket fence instead of large boulders:] “A hundred-year white picket fence would be difficult to find…

[Harrity: “We could put it in the association bylaws that it needs to be maintained…the annual inspection…”]

“The thing is that’s all fine and dandy but what happens is somebody just decides to cut it down or move it or take it out, and it’s happened on almost every negotiation we’ve made…since I’ve been here, four years, almost every single one. There’s one that I can say that there is not a single encroachment, and that’s Pat Melnick’s new project and it has boulders all the way around it, and that’s the only one…

“You can put a stone wall, or you can put boulders, what else lasts 150 years?…

[Responding to a suggestion from Commissioner Kevin Lake to combat the encroachment problem through covenants:] “We have [an agreement] with Cardinal Way. We have a covenant that says, there’s a 75-foot no-disturb area, and there will be granite bollards placed every 25 feet along this 75-foot no-disturb… And what we have is, we have smashed granite bollards that are sitting in the mowed wetlands. That people have smashed the bollards, threw them back in the woods, and then mowed all the way up to edge of the woods…mowed down all the wetland vegetation and so now what we have is (and there’s a shed sitting in the middle of the wetland now) and what we have is large grass and my letters that I sent to them saying, you don’t have the right to do this, and them coming back to me saying, any letter that comes to them from the city is refused in the mail…

“My position has already been cut down to three days for conservation, and there’s no time for this, and there’s no one else out there doing it…”

Video: 1:10:10-3:06:30

Continuation of a Notice of Intent filed by Tofino Associates, Inc. and
Northern Avenue Homes, Inc. for the construction of twenty-five
dwelling units and associated roadways, parking areas, driveways,
sidewalks, utilities, landscaping and stormwater management system.
Project is proposed to take place in the 100-foot buffer zone of
Bordering Vegetated Wetlands. Project location is Northern Avenue, Map
Id 25C-12 and 25C-17.

Selected highlights:
1:28:40… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “In terms of a long-term [invasive species eradication] protocol the seed bank is going to be impressive there, so that even if you killed all of the vegetative plants you’d still have it bouncing back pretty quickly if you just walked away in a year or two…and of course that’s where the plantings come in, very important…

1:30:19… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “In terms of cold weather performance…a period of frozen ground and snow, and then rain on top of snow, a sort of deep flood event for the Northeast, what kind of performance do those [stormwater facilities] turn in?” Kohl engineer: “I would love to quote you an exact number. I can’t. We have designed those according to DEP standard criteria for the BMPs… In general plants and soil do a better job than [a] hardscaped engineering project. I can’t tell you specifically how it works.”

1:38:45… Doug Kohl contends that two proposed areas of “constructed wetlands” constitute extraordinary mitigation, and thus justify his intention to encroach closer than 35 feet to the wetland. Some of the restoration would involve taking out Norway Spruce trees because they are not a native species.

1:49:43… Jim Nash, board member of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association: “Our biggest concern is the overall lack of sustainable language in the process right now… These [questions] draw from specific objectives within Sustainable Northampton itself… Does the proposal eliminate valuable greenspace? Is the proposal low-impact? Does the proposal respect the boundaries of wetlands? Does the proposal affect areas of high ecological value or endangered plants or animals? Will tree canopy in this urbanized area be lost? Are there any ecological resources, water linkages, or wildlife corridors affected? Will the proposal’s impact on the environment be offset by increases in public infrastructure? And the last question, which kind of [ties] them all together, has to do [with] how specifically will the proposal change the overall quality of life for citizens in the area and for the city?”

1:53:33… Jono Neiger, ecologist: Kohl’s proposal does not qualify as extraordinary mitigation. Disturbing the existing wetlands vegetation is unwise, even if it’s “invasive”. It provides habitat and food for animals. Use of herbicide is problematic. The project will set precedents for others in the future. Many wetlands mitigation projects fail. The developers’ commitment tends to be relatively short-term. The homeowners will push outward. The proposal lacks open space for the community’s use. Need more discussion about the high level of groundwater on the property relative to the stormwater basins. Commission should hire a hydrologist to evaluate the proposal.

2:00:52… Alan Seewald, attorney for the North Street Neighborhood Association: “This is all very earnest now… I have spent my career dealing with violations of restrictive covenants…violations of special permit conditions… The owners who run these [condo] associations have dual interests, or maybe they only have one interest, and that is, in keeping the marketability of their units up, and to keep the marketability of the units up, you’ve got to keep the condo fees down… And when you starting having to maintain all of these structures, over and over and over again, year after year after year, digging out these basins for the snow, making sure this detention basin is clear, making sure that there’s no de-icer (salt) being put on these roads, it doesn’t work, because they have no economic interest in doing that. They have the exact opposite economic interest in not doing those things. So that detention basin is going to end up being filled with silt, with leaves, with sticks and dirt and everything else and it’s not going to function 20 years from now… This is shoehorning way too much, way too close to the wetlands… This is too much, it’s too close, and it’s too complicated for people who have economic interests against maintaining these structures to depend on maintaining them… If you build this many units this close to the wetlands with no yard space for kids to play in, no place for things to be stored, the natural progression is to move out from the units into the buffer, into the buffer, into the wetland… There are no basements. There are garages. So everything is going to be stored in garages? Where are the cars going to go? These are the kinds of issues that are presented here.”

2:06:45… Area resident Adam Cohen submits studies and articles to substantiate NSNA’s case that Kohl’s proopsal would put the wetlands and water quality at risk. “Buffers that are less than 50 feet are simply not very effective at protecting wetlands.”

2:12:03… Larry Tatro, long-time area resident, speaks about water intrusion concerns. Non-native species in that wetland can still have a benefit. Concerned about proposed application of herbicides.

2:18:06… Commissioner Paul Wetzel: “Last time, I thought that the Commission said that things should be out of the 35-foot buffer… I’m disappointed… I still see there are a lot of hydrological [stormwater management] aspects of the project that are in within the 35 feet… I think that we should hold, hold to the line…and that includes all the hydrology [all the detention basins, all the constructed items]. Now if there’s a little bit of grading I’m not going to be so concerned about it… Bruce almost said the exact same thing as Mr. Seewald about enforcing convenants and things like that.”

2:20:20… Commissioner Kevin Lake: “In our last meeting, my sense of the meeting was that we did intend to signal that the 35-foot was pretty inviolate… We weren’t sure what extraordinary mitigation might involve, but that we didn’t see anything that looked extraordinary… It’s hard to imagine what you could do within that parcel that would feel extraordinary…given the amount of development…because extraordinary doesn’t seem like, well, we’ve developed half and we’re going to improve the other half. That doesn’t seem extraordinary to me, even if you were to improve all of the existing wetland… I would agree with Paul that we’ve got to stay at 35. The ordinance says 35 in this zone, and I don’t see any basis for going beyond that.”

2:25:40… Commissioner Paul Wetzel: “If you’re expecting a neighborhood kind of a situation here, people are going to expand out into these areas… If we want to hold to this line, there are too many units [in Kohl’s proposal].”

2:29:30… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “When the ordinance was passed, there were a lot of comments that by placing the 35-foot limit in black and white that that would become the line at which everything would reside… The structures within [the] 35-foot zone are too significant, and again to Paul’s point, the number of structures within even the 100-foot zone is such that incursion seems to me inevitable, that people will expand beyond the footprint…it’s not a question of our intentions but…imagine the worst, the Holmesian ‘bad man’…you have to draft rules for the worst actor, for the least responsive landowner, especially if they’re supposed to protect a resource that is supposed to last in perpetuity… I think that…space prevents incursion.”

2:43:24… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “I don’t see the constructed wetlands, since it’s disturbing existing buffer, as necessarily being of benefit. Unlike some of the commenters tonight, I do regard invasives as invasive. Japanese knotweed does not provide significant habitat…the counterbalance is that eradication of these [invasive species] is extremely difficult…you’re signing up for a 10-year project, not a 2-year project.”

2:46:30… Commissioner Paul Wetzel: “The biggest thing is water… Mr. Tatro mentioned that, in his final statement…no one would build back here because it’s squishy. Well, I can
see that this water could be a problem. Everybody else says it’s a problem… You’re going to have to move it [the condo units] out, which means that…some of these planned units are going to be x’ed… You need the space… I’m looking at unit 11 and 12 and 13…”

2:49:14… Commissioner Kevin Lake: “We’ve been very vigorous in other cases when there is a line…that says it’s a non-encroachment or do-not-disturb that we’ve been rigid about that, and I think that that’s the signal that’s coming, is that we’ve got a 35-foot line…that’s what we are allowed to do. There isn’t anything that’s presented here that would allow us to go any closer.”

2:55:25… Commissioner Kevin Lake: “I’m imagining impact on the wetland over time, with 25 families–if there is no greenspace or play area built into the project–to be worrisome… Having been a kid, that’s where I’m going to go, unless there’s someplace else.”

2:56:19… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “I understand that there is every incentive to maximize the revenue generated by the project, but I don’t think that you have to start with that assumption. There’s plenty of examples of where developers are forced to in riverfront-area-type situations are forced to give up lots, otherwise buildable lots. There’s the same issue here… Even if everything is outside of 35 feet, the project is still evaluated for its impact on the wetlands… DEP stormwater [standards] does not deal with salt. It just doesn’t. As far as I know…I don’t know of any effective treatment options for removing salt, and yet chloride pollution in New England is a very big problem…some areas in New England are becoming brackish water… the Commission can’t ignore impacts because they’re small. The jurisdiction runs to cumulative impact.”

3:00:10… Alan Seewald: “We’re talking about, ‘if this is within 35 feet, or that is, and how little impact it might have’. What I heard here tonight is that not one single Commission member found that the extraordinary measures were undertaken… You have no discretion to allow anything within 35 feet unless you find extraordinary measures under Table 1.”

3:01:52… Commissioner Downey Meyer: “I approach the level of mitigation/restoration when I see what’s been proposed inside of 35 feet. The two are weighed, one against the other. As the project stands before me right now, the amount of incursion inside 35 feet is not outweighed by what Mr. Kohl has proposed in terms of mitigation/restoration.”

3:03:05… Bruce Young: “One of my suggestions in the staff report was a multi-year invasive removal plan on the entire site. To me, maybe not to Mr. Windmiller, who seems to think that removal of invasives is a disturbance (I actually even Googled that and I couldn’t find a single wetlands scientist who agreed with him on that)… To me, removal of invasives across the entire site, to bring this entire wetland that’s been severely degraded over five centuries, back to somewhat natural functioning wetland, that provides bee habitat and bird habitat, with natural, native plantings, is extraordinary, is beyond extraordinary, to be honest, in my opinion. That was my recommendation. I don’t know if the Commission agrees with me on that.”

3:04:00… Doug Kohl: “The answer to that is, if that’s what would get this project approved, we’d do it.”

Posted at the Conservation Commission Meeting:

See also:

Our Ad in Today’s Gazette: A Review of Our Objections to the Kohl Condo Proposal

Topographical Map Shows How Kohl Condo Proposal Will Eat Into a Rare Stand of Mature Trees in Downtown

Gazette Reports on January 22 Kohl Condo Hearings; Pictures of the Latest Proposal; Conservation Staff Report; HYLA Critique

[HYLA:] The idea that the applicant can cut down mature woods to within 12 feet
of the wetland edge and have no effect on the physical, chemical, and
biological characteristics of wetlands a mere long-jump away is
completely untenable.  There is an abundance of scientific evidence
demonstrating that the effects of removing natural vegetation,
particularly forest cover, extend far into the remaining woodland from
the newly-created edge…

Increased Concentrations of Salt:  Large quantities of salt are
applied to roads, driveways, and stairs and walkways around buildings
in Massachusetts (17.6 tons per lane-kilometer of Mass. roadways – this
and all references in this section from: N.E. Karraker. “Impacts of
road deicing salts on amphibians and their habitats”.  Urban Herpetology.
2008. Pp. 211-223.)  Salt is extremely soluble in water and is not
extracted in any conventional stormwater treatment systems.  The result
is an inevitable increase in the salinity in wetlands and water bodies
near newly created roadways and houses. Changes in salinity are
specifically regarded as an alteration under the Massachusetts Wetlands
Protection Act (310. CMR 10.04, see definition above).  I have measured
the conductivity (an indirect measurement of salinity) of vernal pools
and other wetlands in approximately 60 areas of Westford, Massachusetts
and found evidence of severe salt pollution in pools many yards from
homes and roadways.  Karraker (Ibid) reports studies noting that most salt impacts occur within 70-100 feet of roads.

The ecological consequences of increased salinity have received some degree of study and are summarized in Karraker (Ibid). 
In areas with significant de-icing salt impacts, plant species
diversity has been shown to decrease, the abundance of non-native
invasives, particularly purple loosestrife (Lytrhum salicaria) and Phragmites (Phragmites australis)
has been shown to increase, and the salt negatively impacted aquatic
invertebrates and the survival of frog and salamander eggs…

The intended use of herbicides by the applicant to control Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
will moreover result in the pollution of the wetland with herbicides
and their toxic surfactant agents.  The commonly used herbicide
glyphosate (Rodeo and Roundup) has been shown to be highly toxic to
amphibians, for example, in numerous papers by Rick Relyea and
colleagues (see summary at:   Japanese knotweed and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
are furthermore difficult to eradicate, even with herbicides.  To do so
will require significant doses of herbicide applied many times.

the end, such schemes are likely only to result in further degradation
of the wetland system.  How long will the applicant continue to remove
exotic species and replace dead shrubs and trees that are planted in
the mitigation areas?  Three years?  Five?  Ten?  A single generation
for native forest trees lasts decades.  In such a time scale, any such
heroic efforts will certainly have been abandoned and the seed bank of
invasive species in the soil will still be healthy.  The Millyard Brook
wetland will have been reduced and degraded physically, chemically, and
biologically by the construction of the proposed development.  Deed
restrictions and the exact location of no-build boundaries will have
been long forgotten and yard waste, trash, and additional clearings
will have extended into the wetlands and beyond the edge of the nearby
lawns.  This effect will be exacerbated by the minimal outdoor space
provided for residential development of such high density.

Planning Commissioners Journal: “Managing Stormwater Runoff: A Green Infrastructure Approach”
While traditional approaches to
stormwater management have focused at
site-level techniques, green infrastructure
takes into account the wide range of development-related issues at the regional,
neighborhood, and site-level that
affect impervious cover and stormwater

The single
most effective strategy for efficient
land use is redeveloping already degraded
sites such as abandoned shopping
centers or underutilized parking lots
rather than paving greenfield sites…
[emphasis added]

In conjunction with the stormwater
benefits just described, a green infrastructure
approach supports an interconnected
network of open spaces and
natural areas (such as forested areas,
greenways, floodplains, and wetlands).
This will improve water quality by
increasing infiltration and groundwater
recharge, while also providing neighborhoods
with access to open space for
recreational purposes…

Landscaping/Tree Preservation provisions
can help reduce runoff by limiting
the amount of impervious surface. Are
large trees preserved during construction?
If not, will they
be replaced?…

Sidebar: Making Use of Site Plan Review by Thomas J. DiPietro, Jr.

Stream Buffer. If your town has a stream
buffer ordinance, does that mean your
stream’s water quality is protected? Not necessarily.
Landscaping requirements within
buffers are often needed to ensure that the
buffer provides its intended functions. Existing
vegetation should not be cleared during
construction and the area should not be converted
into lawn. In addition, items can end
up within stream buffers that aren’t shown
on the site plan. Examples include walking
paths, picnic tables, compost bins, and
dumpsters. It is a good idea to specify that
stream buffers are to remain in their natural
condition and that modification and clearing
is prohibited.

Boxborough Wetlands Regulations: Plans that Require Replication Discouraged
history of wetland replication is mixed. Scientific reviews [Brown,
S&P Veneman, 1998] conclude that for the most part replications
fail to reproduce the range of values–in quantity and quality–of the
wetlands they are intended to replace, in particular, difficulties in
replicating proper hydrological conditions in a consistent and enduring
fashion seem to be a major source of the problem.

The Commission shall strongly discourage any plan that requires wetland replication…

“Low Impact Development: Performance Results and Implementation in the
Field”; Summer vs. Winter Performance of Stormwater Systems

Here are selected excerpts from Dr. Roseen’s presentation (0:13:30-0:32:12):

0:23:36-0:27:59: Summer vs. winter
performance of various stormwater systems. Pointing to a chart showing
removal of total suspended solids (TSS): “So here’s our [stone-lined]
swale. This is probably 98% of what’s out there. It’s doing fine in the
summer. It does nothing in the winter.” “If you consider the EPA is in
general is looking at 80% removal efficiency for TSS, our conventional
practices [such as stone-lined swales and wet ponds] are not meeting

0:29:36… “How are you going to balance public
safety with aquatic habitat? We know we’re going to go with public
safety. So, salt reduction is not the simple answer… and there’s no
way to treat salt with a stormwater BMP.” Roseen goes on to recommend
consideration of porous pavements. They let you use less salt and still
prevent slippery surfaces.

…On page 152 of the application Kohl asserts,
“The use of sand or deicing materials shall not be excessive.” Since
public safety is generally top priority in practice, however, this
seems like a thin safeguard for water quality.

Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Floyd Flood Damage Reported
Behind View Avenue; Avoid Building on Filled Wetlands

Just Released: Planner’s Guide to Wetland Buffers for Local Governments (emphasis added)
[Environmental Law Institute:] Larger buffers will be more effective
over the long run because buffers can become
saturated with sediments and nutrients, gradually
reducing their effectiveness, and because it is much
harder to maintain the long term integrity of small buffers.
In an assessment of 21 established buffers in two
Washington counties, Cooke (1992) found that 76%
of the buffers were negatively altered over time. Buffers
of less than 50 feet were more susceptible to degradation
by human disturbance. In fact, no buffers of
25 feet or less were functioning to reduce disturbance
to the adjacent wetland
. The buffers greater than 50
feet showed fewer signs of human disturbance…

Alex Ghiselin, Letter to Gazette: “Don’t let development encroach on our wetlands”
failure of the storm water system built as a part of the Northampton
High School renovation six years ago illustrates why protecting
wetlands is so important. Silt has filled the retention pond so there
is no capacity to slow a storm surge which now flows unimpeded into the
Mill River and contributes to flooding downstream. This accumulated
silt also raised the water table and spills ground water into nearby

Without maintenance, these [storm water mitigation] systems are part of the problem, not the solution…

Wetlands do not need to be maintained; they just need to be protected.

Video: School Committee Meeting of December 11; Regionalization Discussed
Funding Approved for Bridge Street School to Address Flooding
Problems: Process Stormwater with Sewer Tie-in Rather Than Detention


“Bridge Street School has an issue
with flooding because of the detention basins which are underground
there. And every time we get a downpour we have issues of flooding in
the cafeteria and then up that hallway. This will help tie into the
city system, rather than have the water go into these detention basins
which are supposed to then have the water percolate down into the
groundwater. So this will be a major improvement for Bridge Street

City of Northampton, Memo from Mayor Clare Higgins to City
Councilors, “FY 2009 Capital Improvements Program Recommendations”

Bridge Street School – Detention Basin/Sewer Tie-in – $22,000
Repairing the three dry wells at Bridge Street School was ranked as the
[Northampton Public Schools’] second highest priority. The wells are
filled with silt and the ground water backs up into the building. The
DPW has cleaned the wells but the problem still exists due to the lack
of slope and the deteriorated condition of the wells.

Carlon Drive: Compensatory Wetland Not Working
Mike Kirby writes:
Carlon Drive, they simply scooped out a hole in the swamp-bottom, and
called it a detention structure. Today it is just a pond, and a
stagnant smelly one. It was designed to have a dry forebay, and a
shallow main chamber was supposed to have only about 6 inches of water
in it. This was supposed to be a compensatory wetland, full of cattails
and wildflowers. A rock check dam was supposed to hold back the “first
flush” off the parking lots and trap pollutants, and outflow from it
was supposed to feed the wet part of the detention pond. Here rain
water pouring off the new parking areas and street was supposed to be
stored, and discharged safely.

That was the plan. Today if you
stand by the pond and look down into it, you’ll see the check dam is
now about two feet underwater. You can’t even see where they planted
the marshgrass and flowers. The area is under water. Even in a fairly
dry summer, the detention pond is only about a foot and a half from the
top of the bank. There’s no storage to speak of, no discharge, no
filtering. As it is constructed now, grey water from the parking lots
and the access street goes directly into the swamp and the Connecticut

“Innovative Non-Zoning Approaches to Encourage Smart Growth and Protect Public Health” – Video with Wayne Feiden and Bruce Young
1:03:00… Young: “We have some serious challenges ahead of us.
And one is… ‘HIGs’, holes in the ground. And so, what we’re saying
is, we want good infill development, but through our Wetlands Ordinance
we didn’t really adopt stormwater standards that would improve the
stormwater in these infill areas. So we have a challenge to come up
with better design standards for stormwater instead of these giant
holes in the ground, and to actually require or implement some, or
incentivize some low-impact development type of stormwater systems. And
then…the second thing that goes with stormwater systems is
maintenance… We’re working with the Department of Public Works that
now has a stormwater manager and we’re setting up maintenance for these
systems, but some of these are older systems and some of these have
been approved under a system that didn’t have basically [what’s modern]
for these types of systems…

“And then finally, Wayne and I
mentioned this earlier, design standards in architectural ordinances.
We really need to think about how the infill happens. Because if we’re
saying we want a house between two houses, and we can’t get the
neighborhood to buy onto houses that are just not helping the

At 1:13:30 during the Q&A session, Cohen asked Feiden and
Young about the Meadowbrook Apartments. The experience of this
development raises concerns about the hazards of building homes near
wetlands. As  former City Councilor Mike Kirby wrote in June:

The developers built 255 units of affordable
apartments there. They crammed them in everywhere they could, pushing
them up into the bluffs, and close to the creek and wetlands. No
backyards to speak of. One third of the buildings were built within 50
feet of the wetlands, 63% of the buildings are within the customary 100
feet of wetlands.

None of the buildings have cellars under their
apartments. If they have cellars, there are people living in them. The
cellar floors in the basement apartments in Buildings #4 and #2 are
lower than the surrounding swamp. Some slabs have cracks in them.
People have been flooded out. No moisture-proof barriers between the
surrounding earth and the foundations. Moisture and mold percolate up
into people’s apartments via the chases that hold utilities. If you
wonder why low-income children are afflicted with a whole host of
respiratory diseases, you have to look no further than the children of
the floor level and basement apartments of Meadowbrook…

Feiden and Young were apparently unfamiliar with the problems at Meadowbrook…

EPA: Do Stormwater Retention Ponds Contribute to Mosquito Problems?
Mosquito proliferation in stormwater ponds is a concern,
especially when so many wet and dry ponds are in place and continue to
be installed across the country. Many ponds are not properly
maintained, particularly in cases where they are installed in
subdivisions and other developments where the entity responsible for
long-term maintenance is not clearly defined once the construction is

Detention Pools, Children and Drowning

Northampton Redoubt: “Mr. Kunstler, is all infill good?”
James Howard Kunstler:
People have also co-opted the term New Urbanism and then done
half-assed versions of it. Just co-opting a name doesn’t make it good.

Northampton Redoubt:
We’ve talked about the design but the buildings are designed poorly and
they don’t match the existing character of the neighborhood. It means a
lot more traffic and a lot more asphalt. When we’re going to be
building to within ten feet of wetlands it generally doesn’t account
for one hundred year floods and what homeowners might end up living
with after the property is conveyed to them…

Boston Globe: “How the city hurts your brain” (1/2/09)
Natural settings are full of objects that automatically capture our
attention, yet without triggering a negative emotional response —
unlike, say, a backfiring car. The mental machinery that directs
attention can relax deeply, replenishing itself…

While people have searched high and low for ways to improve cognitive
performance, from doping themselves with Red Bull to redesigning the
layout of offices, it appears that few of these treatments are as
effective as simply taking a walk in a natural place…