With Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Agency approval Thursday night, the Canton High School track, field and parking lot project faces one more regulatory hurdle.
That process will continue on Feb. 20 with a zoning commission public hearing for the site plan.
In November, residents by a tally of 3,034 to 2,112 voted to bond $3.615 million for a track, multi-use field and parking lot improvement project at the high school. The plan calls for a 6-lane track with 8-lane sprinting section with an encompassed multi-use synthetic field. Parking lot changes include improved bus queuing, parking orientation changes and an increasing in parking spaces from 228 to approximately 254. The plan also includes changes to the main access to the school, including an additional exit lane and a center island.
It also calls for a second paved, 15-foot wide access for emergency use.
Land-use approval, including a wetlands permit, is required for the project to go forward. On Thursday, despite considerable discussion about drainage, permeable and impermeable surfaces and further activity in the "uplands review area," or the 100-foot buffer area, outside a wetland, agency members unanimously approved the project.
Agency member David Sinish had emailed several questions to Milone & MacBroom, which were read into the record and addressed during the meeting. Questions included information about square footage numbers for the activity in the review area, the activity and the wetlands. He also asked about the amounts of permeable and impermeable surfaces.
Although Milone and MacBroom shifted the driveway further from the wetland and narrowed the island following an informal review process, Sinish still expressed some concerns that it would be closer to the wetland than it is today.
At one point he even raised the idea of cutting it back to one exit lane and utilizing police to enforce a right-turn only out of the parking lot after busier events.
In the end, however, several other members said their charge was to assess how further activity in the review area affected the wetland itself. Chairman David Shephard said he felt driveway runoff would go into catch basin just as it does now.
"I don't see how the proposed changes make any difference for the wetlands and watercourse," he said, in reference to the driveway.
Shephard also agreed Milone & MacBroom associate Thomas J. Daly that changes in the parking lot could improve wetlands impact over the current parking lot features.
Member Bob Oswald agreed that he felt the distance to the wetland going from 85 to 70 feet did not in itself mean the wetland would be further degraded.
Sinish still expressed some reservations.
"It occurs to me that expanding the driveway is not necessarily protecting the wetlands," he said.
Sinish, however, eventually joined fellow agency members in voting to issue the permit.
The agency did set a few conditions, including that catch basins and other systems draining the parking lot runoff be maintained on a regular basis. The agency also asked that more vegetation be added along the access way.
The Zoning Commission meeting and hearing takes place on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm at the Library/Community Center. Please click here to view the full agenda.