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Large Development

Mansfield, MA

In this project we had to file for Federal, State, and local permitting. The location was the town of Mansfield. The goal was to expand the hangar area in order to increase business prospects. A private company in the Mansfield Airport was seeing an increase in number of flights per day and needed to increase their hangar space to better protect the investments of owning an airplane. This way, their clients that owned planes would feel more confident in storing them on site.

Before any real permitting could begin, however, a request for Jurisdictional Determination (JD) would be submitted. This JD request was for a small Isolated Vegetated Wetland (IVW) area on-site located outside of Bordering Vegetated Wetland (BVW) boundaries. It was our opinion that the 12,506 square foot wet area was non-jurisdictional under the Federal Clean Waters Act (CWA) based on its function, soils, and proximity to navigable waters. A site walk was performed with the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) in the spring of 2011. They issued a letter finding the soils to qualify as a Coastal Prairie Redox, thus meeting Federal hydric criteria. We, along with Connorstone Engineering, spent the summer of 2011 monitoring the conditions in the wet area and submitted additional data with a finding of only 793 square foot area qualifying as Coastal Prairie Redox.

In October of 2011, ACOE requested additional data about the site, and by December that year, we responded with the necessary data, including an alternatives analysis explaining the reason why the IVW in question needed to be altered.

In January of 2012, the ACOE issued a Preliminary JD finding the entire 12,506 square foot area to be jurisdictional. Despite our disagreement with this finding, we chose not to argue the issue any further in the interest of expediency.

We instead moved on to the first permit needed, the 404 Category 2 Application under the CWA. This application was submitted to the ACOE in order to seek approval under the CWA for the filling of the wetland. In the application, we included a few alternatives in design and, as required by law, sent notification of the application to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers division of the National Park Service.

Previous contact with the MHC had been made prior to the filing of the JD, regarding the significance of the site as an archeological resource. The findings were that there were no significant artifacts that would produce additional information if further testing were to be performed.

The approval of the Category 2 application is still ongoing, however, in 2013 we decided to continue on and submit a 401 Water Quality Survey Application to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In this application we had further developed the plans to show the appropriate wetland replication area and desired location for the construction of the Hangar Area. We also included a conservation restriction or deed restriction at a 15:1 ratio.

After some site walks and further discussion, the 401 Water Quality Survey Application would only be approved after filing an application with the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA).

The filling of roughly 12,500 square feet of wetlands triggered the need for filing an Environmental Notification Form (ENF). This form is required by MEPA when you meet certain thresholds that are more generally met in larger projects such as this and is used to officially notify MEPA of the project, seek their approval of it, and allows them the opportunity to confirm all necessary permits are being filed for with the State, Federal, and local agencies. The ENF application is a lengthy process that was begun in 2013 and completed in 2014. MEPA accepted the ENF and required no further applications. DEP, once given the results of the ENF, approved the 401 Application.

After the approval by MEPA and DEP, we were notified by the FAA that they do not allow Conservation Restrictions on Airport property.  However, the ACOE requires preservation as mitigation. To abide by FAA regulations while meeting the requirements of the ACOE 404 application, we selected a 2.83-acre parcel across the street from the Airport to be placed under a deed restriction. The ACOE agreed to the use of the new parcel, however, the Town must approve of the parcel being used for preservation. This will be voted on at the 2015 Mansfield Town meeting.

We are in the process of filing the NOI with the Town and State while waiting for the results of the Town Meeting. The Conservation Commission was satisfied with the proposed work, although the layout of the hangars has been adjusted due to changes in the tenants of the current and proposed hangars.

Currently, the adjusted site plans are in the process of being reviewed by the Town. Once the NOI is approved, the last step is to have the preservation parcel approved by Town Meeting and have the 404 application process completed.