PROCTOR — The town doesn’t anticipate being fined for work done without a permit around the shoreline of Beaver Pond, but it has been talked to by the state about what the rules are going forward.
Town Manager Stan Wilbur said Tuesday that on Aug. 20, the Proctor Beaver Pond Committee met with Laura Dlugolecki, regional permit analyst for the Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Management Division Lakes and Ponds Program. Minutes from that meeting posted to the town’s website indicated it lasted about an hour with no action taken by the committee.
Ray Beyette, chairman of the Beaver Pond Committee, said Tuesday the committee was told by Dlugolecki that it needs to apply for a permit to cover what it’s done and what it might do going forward.
“It’s a very discouraging thing,” said Beyette. “We’ve done nothing wrong, we didn’t belittle the landscape in any way.”
He said the number of permits required by the state and federal governments has increased through the years, and it’s led to frustration being felt by many. “Nobody checked the pond before they said what you could and couldn’t do,” Beyette said.
He believes the matter of obtaining the required permits will be a simple one, and there’s been no talk of fines.
On July 17, the town got a letter from the Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Compliance Division saying the town undertook shoreline work at Beaver Pond without the necessary permit. The letter gave the town until July 31 to contact Dlugolecki to work on developing a plan to correct matters.
In June, volunteers cleared vegetation from the shoreline of Beaver Pond and installed some recreational items such as picnic tables, benches and grill stations.
Attached to the minutes of the Aug. 20 Proctor Beaver Pond Committee meeting is an email sent later that day to Wilbur from Dlugolecki summarizing what she told the committee.
According to Dlugolecki’s email, “protected shoreland area” is the area 250 feet from the shore of a lake or pond where certain activities require a permit. If there’s a road bisecting the shoreland area, then the shoreland area is only from the road to the shore, which is the case at Beaver Pond.
Dlugolecki said the work done around the shore was in violation of the Shoreland Protection Act. According to the law, “vegetation” is considered to be “trees, shrubs, natural ground covers and the duff layer.” Grass and garden areas don’t count, she wrote. Vegetation is protected because it prevents erosion, protects water quality and provides habitat and shelter for various forms of wildlife.
She wrote that the town can apply for a permit to expand the recreation area at the pond. Recreation areas are regulated differently than regular shoreland. She said areas that were cleared before 2014 and regularly maintained can carry on as they are.
The town doesn’t need a permit to clear vegetation if it’s to maintain transportation infrastructure. The town likewise doesn’t need a permit to remove dead trees or trim live ones back from roadways. Vegetation can be thinned, to a point, and no permit is needed to remove invasive species, according to Dlugolecki.
Dlugolecki didn’t return calls Tuesday.