Monday, April 25, 2011

Crow Lane Votes Tonight

The Daily News article about the votes is here.

A lot of the ugly details you want to know about Crow Lane are here at

To paraphrase from the website:

An amendment to the April 30, 2010, Final Judgment and Settlement Agreement for the closure of the Crow Lane Landfill was filed by the Attorney General's Office in Suffolk Superior Court on December 21, 2010, on behalf of the MassDEP. The amendment incorporates revisions to the landfill closure plan (the Revised Corrective Action Design) that improve and simplify construction of a portion of the landfill perimeter berm by reducing the height of the berm along Crow Lane and shortening the length of the landfill access road. The amendment includes several other provisions:

· The flexible membrane liner ("FML") cap will be extended to cover the bottom of the storm water culvert on the north side of the berm;

· Wetlands restoration and replication will occur on the south side of Crow Lane to compensate for some impact to the wetlands on the north and west side of the Landfill caused by berm design improvements [minimum of 2 to 1 replication/ restoration ratio for any lost wetlands];

· Construction protocols and deadlines are included for installation of the sand drainage layer and placement of the loam and seed on top of the synthetic cap on the landfill; and

· Final design plans must be submitted to MassDEP for the landfill storm water collection basin 1, including storm water calculations to demonstrate that it meets the design performance standards and will supply clean water to the vernal pool on City property across Crow Lane. Any final blasting that must be done for the storm water basin to meet the MassDEP approved design depth and to assure proper discharge to the vernal pool will be controlled and strictly monitored to make sure no odor problems develop.

Two of the tasks included in the amended closure plan (which I highlighted above in red) were recently brought before the Council at the request of the Mayor. The two orders were for the Council to authorize the Mayor to enter into licensing agreements to allow on City property:

1) Wetlands restoration and replication

2) a culvert under Crow Lane to get clean water to the vernal pool on City property.

The two orders were sent to the Council’s Planning and Development Committee and were brought to the Council floor tonight. Both orders were rejected by 4 yes-7 no votes.

I voted in favor for two reasons:

1) These two steps are necessary for the Landfill to be properly closed by June 30, 2011. They are necessary as part of the Final Settlement Agreement, not because New Ventures has any interest in doing them. The last thing the City and the neighbors who have suffered for so long need is for New Ventures to complain to the judge this summer that the closure hasn’t happened because Newburyport dragged it out.

2) I appreciate that the Mayor sought Council input even though she did not need it and has the authority to authorize these agreements without Council approval. The licensing agreements were improved and clarified with Council suggestions, including strengthened language about the City’s ability to approve the contractor and manage the process. In an email tonight after the Council votes, the Mayor indicated she will be going ahead and signing the agreements.

I understand Council reluctance to have anything to do with New Ventures after all the conditions NV created which have made life a living hell for the neighbors. The biggest mistake was years ago in even allowing New Ventures into the community. The best course now is for the City, DEP and New Ventures to move ahead on the final closure activities and get this chapter closed.

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