South Amherst property owner to address wetlands violations

  • Amherst resident and Stone Mason Kim Harwood stands by a bench, made entirely out of salvaged materials, along a trail he built on his property in August 2021 in Amherst. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2021 9:43:48 AM

AMHERST — With unanimous approval from the Conservation Commission, a series of wetlands violations at a South Amherst property will soon be fixed.

Commissioners at their Sept. 22 meeting unanimously authorized the corrective actions for a Pondview Drive property owned by Kim Harwood, where violations of both the Massachusetts Wetlands Act and the town’s wetlands bylaw were discovered last spring.

The vote approves a determination of applicability filed by David Haines, of Haines Hydrogeologic Consulting of Belchertown, in response to an enforcement order issued by the commission and Wetlands Administrator Erin Jacque.

The violations, according to town officials, included landscaping done to create trails, which infringed on bordering vegetated wetlands, removal of invasive species and pruning trees, and putting hardscape on the banks of a perennial stream.

“What we are proposing to do is remove the fill from those wetland areas,” Haines said.

In one section of trail, Haines said, 150 square feet of fill would be replaced with a bog bridge featuring wooden planks. In another area of the trail, gravel on the banks would be removed and replaced with top soil made up of compost. The work also calls for new plantings.

An existing plank bridge across the stream will be removed, while a second walking bridge will be maintained because it was previously permitted, Haines said. A stone bench and other paths will remain.

The decision brings to a close Harwood’s response to the original cease-and-desist order that led him to create an online petition “demanding that the Conservation Commission drop this ridiculous case and get on with the important work of protecting wetlands that are actually in danger.”

But even with the petition, Harwood risked a financial penalty of $25,000, and possible jail time, without compliance.

Jacque told the commission that she is pleased the work will be done. “The proposal, basically as submitted, meets what I requested to be provided to the commission," Jacque said.

Commission Chairwoman Jenn Fair expressed gratitude for the resolution.

“We feel like this is a much more protected perennial stream as a result of these restoration activities,” Fair said.

Haines said Harwood wanted to make the improvements, noting he is a caretaker of his property, as evidenced by wildlife that he saw while there, including blue herons and raccoons.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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