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SA Farm Owner Returns to Commission With Updated Intentions

Denied his plans last time around, Santo Anza has submitted an updated notice of intent to the Conservation Commission for his property on Whitney Street.

Denied by the Conservation Commission in January, Santo Anza has resubmitted upated plans for his property at 432 Whitney St. in Northborough. Anza was initially denied his submission for a variety of reasons, the most significant that he planned to bring fill too close to wetlands, which are protected by the town's bylaws.

"There were pages and pages of decisions revolving around various things he didn't provide or meet the bylaws for," said Town Engineer Fred Litchfield. [The commission] had asked for information and he neglected to supply it. They cited the State Wetlands Protection Act. He needed permits and he did not have those. There were several things."

Anza, who owns SA Farm at 429 Whitney St., submitted to the commission a new notice of intent.

Litchfield said the new notice of intent that Anza filed with the commission is "fairly lengthy." There are some 12 pages with plan details, in addition to the actual notice of intent. 

The notice of intent reads that Anza is "proposing to construct a driveway from Whitney Street to the rear of the property. This driveway would serve as an access to the she so SA Farm can regrade a portion of the site to construct a barn and pastures. This barn would be used to feed and house livestock as needed. In conjunction with the proposed barn, the applicant proposes to reshape portions of the existing topography and construct pastures for the livestock to graze. No work associated with the barn and pastures is within 100 feet of a bordering vegetated wetland."

The most significant change, according to Litchfield, is in response to the commission's assertion that Anza was bringing a lot of fill in that grated against the bylaws. "In their denial letter, they said, 'If you refile, pull this back a little, and don't make it so high, and don't make it so close to the wetlands.' He took it to heart."

Originally, said Litchfield, the plans showed a house with a septic system, "a lot of fill" and a driveway. The newest plan shows no house and no septic system. It does, however, include a barn, and the driveway is identical to the original plans. The fill, in the new notice of intent, shows the fill outside of the 100-foot buffer zone (as opposed to the original 15 feet).

"He's reduced the amount of fill, and the net amount would be 60,000 yards," said Litchfield, adding that the original notice asked for nearly 25,000 cubic yards of fill.  "And he did apply for exemption under the Wetlands Protection Act as an agricultural exemption." 

Litchfield said the commission maintained that the Wetlands Protection Act doesn't presently apply to Anza, as the land has to be used presently and primarily as agricultural at the property. Anza's lawyer discussed possibly applying for limited access protection.

"There were several questions about whether if was for agricultural use," said Litchfield. "And he wanted to file a limited access provision, or get an interpretation of what is allowed."

More information is needed before the commission can make a decision. The commission and Anza meet again on April 9 in a continuation to discuss the notice of intent.

Anza has been the target of fury from his neighbors for more than two years, during which the Zoning Board of Appeals issued him a cease in desist order to stop all composting action at 429 Whitney St., which he also owns.

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office fagainst Anza in connection with the activity at 429 Whitney St. 

Since the cease and desist order, and charges stemming from the attorney general's office, Litchfield said there has been little to no activity at Anza's properties.

"About a year ago, he placed a couple of truckloads of material there," said Litchfield. "We asked him to take it out because it’s near the wetlands. He had some cows out there, and we asked that he take those away, too. On this side, he has done what we asked."

Litchfield stresses that the newest filing with the commision only concerns 432 Whitney St., and is being treated separately from any issues pertaining to 429 Whitney St.

"The attorney general issues and citings and fines and accusations and everything they filed against him has been to do with his work at 429 Whitney St.," said Litchfield, "and the commissioner is working that as a separate parcel. We are trying not to confuse what is happening. But for our purposes, we are looking at 432 as a new filing, and we are trying to view it on its own merits. Its history across the street is important, but it’s not an overriding factor. What happened over there is what it is. We are looking at not the person but the project and in the end, the same level of scrutiny will have to be held as high as possible."

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