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ConCom Sends Enforcement Order to Pittsfield Country Club
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:45AM / Tuesday, May 14, 2024
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission is disappointed to see wetland violations at the Pittsfield County Club, stating the new maintenance superintendent should "know better."

Last week, the panel ratified an enforcement order for unauthorized land disturbance and vegetation removal within bordering land subject to flooding, bordering vegetated wetlands, inland bank, and buffer zones.

"Essentially what happened was the golf course superintendent had cleared woody vegetation, some of the woody vegetation was substantially sized, along areas that the commission regulates," Conservation Agent Robert Van Der Car said.

He displayed pictures of the violations within the golf course playing area, with vegetation removed near an intermittent stream and at the edge of a pond. There was also hydrophilic vegetation and a substantial amount of trees removed.

"The enforcement order required restoration and White Engineering, they're working on a restoration plan here now," the conservation agent reported.

Chair James Conant recused himself from the conversation, as he retired from the club last year after a long career as the course superintendent. Commissioner Thomas Sakshaug commented that he is sure Conant instructed the new superintendent "quite well" on the rules.

"I will just put it on the record as saying that as a golf superintendent in this community, the current one, it's disappointing," Commissioner Jonathan Lothrop said, pointing to the certificate of compliance that was issued to the club for a culvert last year.

"It just slightly boggles the mind, this is somebody that should know better, frankly. That's a huge worry for me."

Commissioner Stephanie Storie was also trying to understand how this was done when the panel had just permitted a project next to the area, adding "It doesn't seem like an accident, I guess is what I'm saying based on the scale and prior work."

"Ultimately, we will be developing a plan with a combination of trees, shrubs, and ground cover, as well as identifying certain areas of the course that were cut or altered," Engineer Brent White explained.

"That, in my view, by simply allowing those areas to restore themselves may allow them to restore to what the conditions were prior to any of the land-disturbing activities that had occurred."

There are two primary areas where the work is occurring, one that follows the hydrology from the culvert and goes under Route 7 and another at the southeast corner of the property where there was a disturbance within the 100-foot buffer of the stream channel.

"Our hope is to actually to work with the professional staff and some of the designated members who are on boards for the club to develop a restoration plan and ideally have that presented for the commission that you're meeting on May 30th," White reported.

Lothrop appreciated his comprehensive approach and added, "this wasn't an overzealous guy with a lawn mower that got a little close to the lake this is a planned clear removal and I guess I just want to make sure that the commission goes on record through you to your client to say this is not OK."

White said this is "well understood" by the professional staff and the board of directors. While the current focus is the enforcement order, the engineering firm plans to generate a new map with all bordering vegetated wetland resource areas and the 100-foot buffer zones for future projects.

"I'm looking forward to your work and you got put in that hard place but we understand that you're not the problem here," Sakshaug said to the engineer.

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