Health board approves South Deerfield condominium project

  • Deerfield Board of Health and Select Board, Oct. 5. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • A few "Save our sugarloaf" signs on Sugarloaf Street, across from a proposed senior housing development at the base of Mount Sugarloaf. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Developer Mark Wightman addresses concerns about a proposed senior housing development on Sugarloaf Street during a Planning Board meeting Monday, Oct. 3. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Phil Allard speaks in favor of a proposed senior housing development on Sugarloaf Street at the base of Mount Sugarloaf during a Planning Board meeting Monday, Oct. 3. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Gazette
Friday, October 14, 2016

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A proposed condominium project off Sugarloaf Street passed a checkpoint with town health officials last week.

The Board of Health approved preliminary plans for the development, which covers 22 acres and four parcels of land at the base of Mount Sugarloaf. There had been concerns that the development’s stormwater retention design could create breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“I’m gonna be very broad with this. I cannot see any problems this would have with the town from a health issue,” board member Henry “Kip” Komosa said. “The subdivision would only help the sewage treatment plant at this point. One of the problems we have is with flow.”

The proposal calls for 36-duplex condominiums split into 72 individual residences which, according to developer Mark Wightman, will be limited to people 55-years-old and older.

The Board of Health has the same members as the Select Board. During the meeting, Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness said she’s worried drainage infrastructure — which includes catch basins for stormwater runoff — in the preliminary development plan could inadvertently create ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“The only concern I have, and it should be addressed in the definitive plan, is the retention. The fact is you’re putting a mosquito breeding area in the middle of a residential area. We cannot have mosquitoes,” Ness said. “We don’t want a retention detention pond.”

Ness said the Board of Health has been encouraging residents not to build such drainage infrastructure for years because of health concerns.

Other potential health-related concerns Komosa said some community members have expressed include the possibility that residual tobacco pesticides are still in the soil. Komosa put the concerns to rest and said he has investigated and found nothing.

“In years gone by there were some town-owned wells contaminated by pesticides,” Komosa said. “That has since changed, and it has cleared up. It seems to make sense to me that if it’s not showing up in the water, it seems to have dissipated.”

The Board of Health unanimously passed a motion to approve the subdivision’s preliminary plan, noting concerns and asking the developer to change stormwater runoff designs.