EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 15, 2013

Conservation Commission demands fix for drainage ditch

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — For years, a large buildup of ice in the parking lot at 85 Flagship Drive has posed a danger to the people who work or do business there, according to Mark Scollard, who owns one of the companies in the building.

The solution, Scollard said, was to clean out and improve a drainage ditch that runs along the rear and one side of the parking lot. So the 85 Flagship Drive condo association – each business owns its space, so there is not a single owner for the entire property – went ahead and hired a contractor to perform the work.

Sediment from the ditch, however, began to flow into nearby wetlands, according to Conservation Administrator Jennifer Hughes. An anonymous caller reported the situation to the Conservation Department and Heidi Gaffney, conservation field inspector, visited the site, Hughes said.

When Hughes reported the wetland violation to the Conservation Commission last week, members made it clear the problem had to be corrected.

“We want it fixed,” said Conservation Commission member Albert Manzi Jr., who noted the wetlands near Flagship Drive feed Mosquito Brook, which in turn is part of the watershed for the Ipswich River. Manzi pointed out that the commission has the power to fine a business or homeowner that causes a wetland violation.

“I think I have my marching orders,” Hughes said.

The next day, Scollard, president of the 85 Flagship Drive condo association, told The Eagle-Tribune he and other business owners at the site are aware of the problem and will fix it by adding three-quarter-inch stone to the ditch – the very solution Manzi recommend the previous evening.

The three-quarter-inch stone will filter out the sediment from the water before it flows into the wetlands, Manzi said.He said a load of this material is relatively inexpensive.

Hughes said Friday that Scollard had sent her an email saying the condo association was correcting the problem. Scollard owns and operates Cal-Pak Inc., a firm that designs, sells and installs packaging equipment.

The drainage ditch was built 30 years ago and in recent years was not properly maintained, he said.

“It was like a pond out there,” he said, when the ditch filled up and water spilled into the parking lot.

When it froze, it was dangerous, he noted. Scollard said the condo association will make sure the sediment from the ditch is kept out of the wetlands.

“Hopefully everybody will be happy,” he said.

Hughes said she and the commission recommend that landowners inform the Conservation Department before digging or performing work on a drainage ditch that discharges water into wetlands.