Eversource Conditional Use Permit in Wetlands OK’d by Planning Board

The Planning Board approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Eversource to conduct geotechnical borings in emergent wetlands as part of the engineering phase of the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project.

An abutter to a site where boring will occur expressed concern with the proposed activity in the power utility’s right-of-way (ROW).

“In the wetlands right behind my house, I have seen the damage PSNH (Public Service Company of New Hampshire) has done,” said Bonnie Breithaupt of 7 Chestnut Hill Drive, asking what types of machinery would be used to complete the work. PSNH is now part of Eversource.

Sherrie Trefry, director of energy services for VHB engineering consultants in Bedford, said impacts in the wetlands will be temporary and any clearing would be done by hand.

“We will not be bringing any large machinery in,” she said.

Minimal tree and shrub clearing will be required to gain access to drill sites, with some clearing required in forested areas where borings are proposed.

“We will do our best to access with a minimal amount of clearing – just enough to get a probe or drill in right where we have structures,” Trefry said. “I would anticipate maybe one tree will need to come down.”

Breithaupt said previous work on the easement has encroached upon her property, and when machinery dug up the wetland, the trenches left behind filled with water.

“The mosquito population In Chestnut Hill could eat you alive,” she said. “I would hate to see more trenches there.”

Crews will be laying down matting in the wetlands that disperse the weight of vehicles accessing the sites, preventing rutting and other impacts, according to Trefry.

The matting is to remain in the wetlands while work is being completed – generally no longer than a day.

“The drilling itself will only take a few hours to set up, they’ll drill, get the sample, then take the mats and move to a new location,” she said. “Usually vegetation pops right back up when the mats are removed. Impacts will be minimized and restored, and we will use access roads where possible.”

In total, the project will result in 51,271 square feet of wetlands temporary impact, of which 33,616 square feet are temporary wetland impact and 7,213 square feet are temporary stream impacts.

The work will provide information on the physical properties of soil and rock at the proposed sites of towers being installed in Londonderry as part of the transmission line project from the Scobie Pond substation to Tewksbury, Mass.

Eversource is working to notify abutters of the boring that is to be conducted to ensure they understand that crews aren’t installing new towers, and Planning Board members told concerned abutters to the ROW that they would have an opportunity to discuss the overall project when it goes before the Board.

Work in Londonderry is expected to include the construction of about 75 new structures, with the average height anticipated to be 88 feet above ground.

The new, 24-mile overhead transmission line will pass through Londonderry, Hudson, Windham and Pelham. A total of 18.1 miles of the transmission line will run through New Hampshire, with 8.1 miles in Londonderry.

Eversource held a public information session May 6 as part of its application process with the SEC (New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee) and the company must hold a joint public information session with National Grid in each county affected by the project within 45 days after the application is filed. The SEC will hold additional public hearings within 90 days of the application’s being accepted.

Residents may contact Eversource with questions and concerns related to the project by phone at (844) 646-8427 or by email at info@MA-NHSolutions.org. For more information, visit the project’s website online at  HYPERLINK “http://www.MA-NHSolution.com” www.MA-NHSolution.com.

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