WATERTOWN — In a cautionary tale for new home buyers, an application for filling and grading within a wetlands area and the installation of a swing set and fence at 12 Trolane Rd. prompted discussion among the members of the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Agency on Thursday, June 10.

Applicant Tiffany Acuna recently hired someone to fill in an area where she planned to install the swing set and fence and commissioners asked her how she purchased the home without being aware of the restrictions placed on it by wetlands on the property.

Ms. Acuna told the commission she was aware of a conservation easement at the back of the property, but she was not aware that pretty much the entire parcel was considered wetlands. That included a limit on the area of disturbance that ends just past the house.

Assistant Zoning Enforcement Officer Moosa Rafey recalled that the lot had originally been two parcels. Those two lots were combined and one house was allowed as a way to provide some use of a parcel that otherwise would not have met current wetlands standards. The builder should have noted this limit of disturbance on the as-built plans, he said.

Commissioners were concerned the homeowner claimed ignorance of the situation. A real estate agent or closing attorney should have verified that the buyer of the property was aware of any easements or restrictions placed on its use. Home buyers should also take it upon themselves to check with their real estate agent or closing attorney to verify the home and land may be used as they intend before closing on the property.

After setting a site walk for Saturday, June 26, and a public hearing for Thursday, July 15, Chairman Craig Palmer concluded the matter for the evening by saying this was not the first time he’d heard of a similar situation.

People are spending “big money” on homes, only to find out the “hard way” that they cannot use the parcel the way they planned, he said. It was the third time he’d heard the same story from an applicant.

An application from Denis and Rita O’Sullivan for subdivision of a parcel of land into two building lots and the construction of two, single-family dwellings, associated driveways and on-site sewage disposal systems and wells, located on the northwest corner of Northfield Road and Smith Pond Road, was tabled.

Commissioners told Mr. O’Sullivan that he may need to have a soil scientist come out and retest for wetlands on the property as it appeared as if the areas delineated on an old map may have changed. 

In any event, the commission asked that the areas be flagged. Mr. Rafey said the house being proposed doesn’t meet zoning setbacks.

The commission scheduled a site walk for Saturday, June 26, and a Public Hearing for Thursday, July 15, on an application by Dawn Coburn, 191 Charter Oak Dr., for a 44-by-33-foot, detached garage that is proposed to be located just 21.5 feet from the wetlands. The applicant said there is nowhere else the garage can be located on the property.

An application from Deborah Pope, Lot 2, Platt Road, for a site plan modification to add an in-ground pool and a barn and to increase the buildable area of the lot was given an approval as-of-right after commissioners determined the barn was part of a farm use and the pool was outside of the regulated area.

Allan Borghesi presented plans for an 8,100-square-foot building, 56 parking spaces, drainage and grading for a lot at the intersection of Echo Lake Road and Buckingham Street. One entry to the location will be on Route 262 and the other on Echo Lake Road.

Mr. Rafey asked the applicant to flag both wetlands at the locations of the proposed entrances and parking lot prior to a Saturday, June 26, site walk. Commissioners scheduled a Public Hearing for Thursday, July 15.

Mr. Rafey also scheduled a site walk on Saturday, June 26, for a sewage system repair at 65 Northfield Rd. The repair will take place within the upland review area.

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