Video: Conservation Commission Rebuts Dawson, Discusses Plassmann

Here is a complete YouTube video of the 4/14/11 meeting of Northampton’s Conservation Commission. This video is 1 hour 47 minutes long and was recorded by Adam Cohen.


Members of the commission craft a letter to the Gazette that responds to a March 17 guest column by Alexandra Dawson. She had written:

The Northampton City Council some years ago greatly reduced the buffer area around wetlands in the developed areas of the city. Strictly speaking, they did not create a buffer but a do-not-disturb area comprising the wetlands and a 10-to-35-foot buffer area around the wetland. Recently, the council decided to allow alteration of this area if the work would improve the wetland and mitigate other damage on the lot.

Folks, at the risk of sounding paranoid, I urge caution in following this example. It permits alteration of the wetland itself, in the name of improvement. In all my years of environmental work I have come to believe that wetlands, like natural forests, do not need improvement…

In the “New Mail” portion of the meeting, members of the commission discuss a complaint recently filed with Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck by Planning Director Wayne Feiden. As the Gazette reported on April 9:

Hasbrouck said he is investigating Feiden’s complaint against [Ward 3 City Councilor Angela] Plassmann and her husband, Jon, regarding possible violations for “some type of trailer and a small structure attached to the trailer” on their property at 180 Fair St. Extension.

“From the road, it appears that there is small-to-medium-size trailer which has been used for human occupancy with wood and other improvements that appear to be more than a simple travel trailer parked there,” he wrote.

In his request, Feiden asks Hasbrouck to determine whether permits have been issued. If they haven’t, he questions whether work took place in the floodplain that requires a building permit or appropriate permits under the city’s zoning and if someone is living in a trailer in the floodplain without proper approvals.

Feiden would not say who brought the issue to his attention, citing a Conservation Commission policy to keep complaints confidential, but he did say it came from “multiple sources”. He also sent a separate letter to the Plassmanns two weeks earlier.

He cautioned Friday that the investigation may prove nothing is amiss and that he hasn’t made any assumptions either way.

“There may be absolutely nothing here,” he said. “We get more inquiries at the Conservation Commission than actions.”

Here is the full meeting agenda:

5:00 PM, Thursday April 14, 2011
City Hall Hearing Room 2nd floor, 210 Main Street, Northampton
Contact: Sarah LaValley, Conservation Planner

1. Public Comment

2. Approval of Minutes
a. February 24, 2011
b. March 24, 2011

3. 5:10 P.M. Continuation: Notice of Intent for construction of a septic system
with an associated concrete block wall and parking area, razing of a garage and
construction of a new garage and associated concrete block wall and storage
area, within the buffer zone to bordering vegetated wetland. Frank Fournier,
492 Easthampton Road. Map ID 44-43, DEP File 246-647.

4. 5:45 P.M. Notice of Intent for dredging of Willow Pond. Project includes
impacts to bank, land under water, bordering land subject to flooding,
riverfront area (Mill River), and buffer zone to bordering vegetated wetland.
Frank Newhall Look Board of Trustees – Look Park. 300 North Main Street,
Florence. Map ID 16A-002, DEP File 246-646.
The applicant has requested that the hearing be continued, with no discussion,
until May 12 2011 at 5:30 PM.

5. 6:30 P.M. Notice of Intent for installation of a pedestrian boardwalk,
removal of invasive species, and trail clearing. Project will take place within
bordering vegetated wetland and buffer zones. Northampton Office of Planning
and Development. Sylvester Road – Mineral Hills Conservation Area. Map ID 34-02.
DEP File 246-650.

6. Request for Certificate of Compliance, Tiger Press, c/o Reza Shafii. 155
Industrial Drive. Parcel 18D-60, DEP File 246-501.

7. Review of Mail

8. All other business not foreseen when agenda was published

See also:

Gazette: “Claiming harassment, Angela Plassmann resigns from City Council” (4/9/11)
…[Lisa] Fusco has been a member of the Conservation Commission since 2007 and
has served on the board of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association for the
last five years. She worked as an environmental police officer for 20
years and served as the president of the Massachusetts Environmental
Police Officers Association and handled contract negotiations, labor
relations, grievances and safety issues.

Video: Lisa Fusco Announces Run for Ward 3 City Council Seat (4/8/11)

Angela Plassmann Resigns as Ward 3 City Councilor (4/8/11)
Due to recent city actions that have had a profound negative impact on my family, I have decided to tender my resignation from the position of Ward 3 City Councilor effective immediately. My family and I have come under harassment from a department head for the City of Northampton. I have been “singled out” due to what I believe are political motivations. In as much as civil or criminal litigation may be forthcoming between me and/or my family and the City of Northampton, I believe it is inappropriate for me to continue serving on the City Council.