Call it the nightmare on Rock O'Dundee Road.

A new five-home development being built high upon a hill sent silt and sediment running down to homes and roads below. It happened four years ago, but some town leaders want to keep it from happening again.

Town Meeting voters will be asked to approve a measure requiring developers to obtain a special permit if they intend to disturb more than 40,000 square feet of land. Before the permit is allowed, plans would have to go through special reviews to prevent the kind of storm runoff that plagued neighbors on Rock O'Dundee Road.

"The streets were covered ... all the time. There was a lot of sediment and silt," said Gil Martin, a resident of 24 Rock O'Dundee Road. "There was a lot of runoff that went down the hill."

Located off Burnham Road, construction began on Rock O'Dundee Road in 2003. Because the five parcels met all zoning and frontage requirements, under state law the town could do nothing to interfere with the work being done on the hilltop development, according to Public Works Director Jack Petkus. He described the runoff situation as "an absolute mess out there."

"It was horrible. The (neighboring) people up there had to put up with a lot of grief," Petkus said. "This (bylaw) would bring those areas into some sort of compliance."

The bylaw would create a stormwater committee to ensure any project where more than 40,000 square feet would be disturbed has proper stormwater controls.

"They would have to show that they're going to come up with a plan, how they're going to keep erosion on site. They've got to keep sediments from traveling off site," Petkus said of developers. "And then that plan will have to be implemented and inspected on a regular basis."

Improper stormwater management can result in the movement of dirt and sediment into roadways and surrounding properties, clog pipes in catch basins, flood and damage streams and kill wildlife.

"It runs down roads, it gets into catch basins, clogs streams, kills fish," Petkus said.

Techniques to control stormwater runoff and erosion include planting vegetation and placing hay bails around a property being developed, using sedimentation basins and installing silt fencing.

New stormwater management requirements by the federal EPA have also led to the need for the bylaw and stormwater committee, Petkus said.

"We're following the lead that a number of other communities used," he said.

The proposed bylaw has been approved by the conservation and health departments, but is still under review by town planners.

"Any oversight is good," said Martin. "I don't have a problem with having more review processes."

The stormwater committee would consist of staff members from the town's planning, conservation, health and building departments and the Department of Public Works. The committee would review land disturbance permit applications, conduct inspections, and take any needed enforcement action.

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