Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Meeting Minutes

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, John Sandri, Ralph Zingaro, Kathy Scott, Don Scott

The meeting opened at 7:00 PM.

Agenda & Minutes – The HCC approved the agenda as presented. The board subsequently moved to approve the July meeting minutes, which had been deferred. On the September minutes, the HCC noted that fall is the optimum time to treat knotweed with glyphosate, while summer is the optimal time to treat it with the organic herbicide Avenger. They also noted the cyanobacteria spotted on Silver Lake had disappeared, as it can come and go, rather than testing negative. With these amendments, the HCC approved the September minutes.

Knotweed Eradication Tests – Members discussed the result of the test site and treatments, noting growth resumed on the stands treated as part of a test trial on private property.

John Sandri noted that on his private residence, the organic herbicide Avenger has worked very well on young plants. Once the knotweed plants are established and more mature, Avenger is not as effective. Ralph Zingaro recommends going after the inoculum of the big plants, from which the seeds spread.  He added that the organic herbicide Scythe, mixed with glyphosate, reduces the amount of glyphosate needed by approximately 30%, for a less toxic but more effective treatment than the organic herbicide alone.

The HCC will consult with the Select Board about conducting a trial at the town’s highway barn.

The HCC emphasized that only trained applicators will apply the products in controlled tests. The HCC also noted that there are no regulatory agencies that oversee homeowner use of such products. The HCC then moved to approve Ralph Zingaro’s use of glyphosate and Scythe and Avenger, per his discretion at owner-approved locations.

Members agreed with the recommendation that any larger treatment effort, beyond trials, be brought to Town Meeting.

‘Mile-a-Minute’ plant and Buckthorn are two additional invasives the HCC discussed. To date, Mile a Minute has only been found on the coast by Doug Cygan, invasive species coordinator for the state department of agriculture. The HCC will keep it on its radar but these are very difficult to control. The HCC will focus on knotweed for now. Mr. Sandri asked if the sources (for example gravel pits and quarries) are being treated rather than going after stands and wondered if the town could align with other area Conservation Commissions and/or the state to address remediation at the sources to mitigate the spread.

The HCC Chair then moved to approve the expense of $369.32 for two herbicides plus shipping charges payable to Nutrien Ag Solutions, Inc. All voted in favor.

Resident complaint – The HCC discussed the complaint by Mr. Pancake who stated to the town health officer that he was accused by someone from the town of spraying knotweed along the Chesham Depot Trail. The town and SB have stated that no one from the town has any knowledge of such an incident and that there has been no treating of knotweed along the rail trail.

The Chair will attend the SB meeting tomorrow night to discuss updates on knotweed treatment trials and the following:

Wetland Setbacks – Proposed modifications – The HCC discussed the existing wetland ordinance requirements (Article XII) and heard from Don Scott about his proposed modifications. Mr. Scott proposes adding provisions for a special exception from the ZBA to build within the 100’ wetland buffer, as long as a certified wetland soil scientist provides an analysis proving no detriment to the wetlands.  Don Scott also proposes more latitude within the ordinances for building adjacent to 10’ linear wetlands as long as surface water runoff is treated.  The proposals are being considered by the Ordinance Review Committee of the Planning Board.

Following discussion, Harry Wolhandler moved that the HCC resolve to forward Don Scott’s draft recommendations for adjustments to Article XII Wetlands Conservation District Ordinance for consideration by the Planning Board.  Ralph Zingaro seconded. All voted in favor.

Wetland / Shoreland Permits – The HCC noted DES Shoreland Permits were approved for properties at 346 Hancock Road and 51 Silver Road.

Reports on actions of other town committees and environmental groups – deferred to next month.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 pm.