Tower Construction Leaves Behind an Environmental “Mess”

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Richmond’s Conservation Commission seeks an immediate action plan from the state to correct environmental damage along a woodland trail at the top of Lenox Mountain, caused by the construction of a tower. The Berkshire Eagle reported that in September, the Commission sent a letter to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Commission accused the agency of violating town regulations under the Berkshire Scenic Mountain Act by constructing the service road.

The letter alleged that the work performed by DCR’s contractors included “substantial excavation and/or regrading soils and rocks, and removal of trees.” The result, it stated, was a “severe impact” on the forested hillside, “causing serious risk of stormwater erosion and damage to water quality downstream in the watershed.” The complaint also stated removing power line poles and the trenching and burying of the lines in a conduit left “discarded poles, cables and miscellaneous related parts on the forest floor,” causing additional “erosion and contamination of the area.”

In the letter, the Commission demanded that the DCR submit complete plans to the town by October 13, “to remediate and restore the disturbed area.” The DCR was asked to stabilize the disturbed area with temporary erosion controls and comply with all the Richmond Scenic Mountain Act’s regulations’ requirements, reported The Eagle.

In July, the “mess” was discovered, and neighbors asserted during a Select Board meeting that advance notice regarding the project had not been given. Selectman Roger Manzolini voiced dismay that local officials received no notification ahead of the project either, reported The Eagle.

According to DCR, the state has held an easement since the 1940s for access to a clearing surrounding the fire tower atop Lenox Mountain, the communications equipment site. DCR press secretary Olivia Dorrance told The Eagle that the equipment serves “state police radio repeater antennas, Berkshire County sheriff and ambulance radio equipment and a leased cell transmitter.” She added that the agency planned to return to the site “to complete punch-list items, including … an installation of a gate to discourage trespassing.”

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