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Open Space and Recreation Plan

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Open Space and Recreation Plan

    Open Space and Recreation Plan for the Town of Hamilton

Hamilton Open Space Committee

    Hamilton Conservation Commission

    Hamilton, Massachusetts

    January 2008

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    Section 1 Plan Summary ................................................................................................... 1-1 Section 2 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 2-1

    A Statement of Purpose................................................................................................ 2-1 B Planning Process and Public Participation ............................................................. 2-2 Section 3 COMMUNITY SETTING ................................................................................. 3-1 A Regional Context....................................................................................................... 3-1 General Physical Location ........................................................................................... 3-1 Resources Shared With Neighboring Towns ............................................................. 3-3 Socio-Economic Context ............................................................................................ 3-13 B History of the Community ..................................................................................... 3-14

    C Population Characteristics ..................................................................................... 3-20 Population Density ..................................................................................................... 3-21 Family Income ............................................................................................................ 3-22

    Industries..................................................................................................................... 3-24

    D Growth and Development Patterns ...................................................................... 3-24 Patterns And Trends .................................................................................................. 3-28 Infrastructure .............................................................................................................. 3-29

    Long-term Planning Patterns .................................................................................... 3-33 Section 4 ENVIRONMENTAL INVENTORY AND ANALYSIS .................................. 4-1

    A Geology, Soils, and Topography ............................................................................. 4-1 Description .................................................................................................................... 4-1

    Geology and soils in Hamilton wetlands and floodplains........................................ 4-3 Effects on Community ................................................................................................. 4-5 B Landscape Character ................................................................................................ 4-6 C Water Resources ....................................................................................................... 4-7 Flood Hazard Areas ................................................................................................... 4-10 Wetlands...................................................................................................................... 4-10

    Aquifer Recharge Areas ............................................................................................. 4-11 D Vegetation ............................................................................................................... 4-12

    E Fisheries and Wildlife ............................................................................................. 4-15 F Scenic Resources and Unique Environments ....................................................... 4-18 G Environmental Problems ....................................................................................... 4-20 Section 5 INVENTORY OF LANDS OF CONSERVATION INTEREST ..................... 5-2

    A Protected Parcels ....................................................................................................... 5-2

    Bradley Palmer State Park ........................................................................................... 5-2 Willowdale Mill ............................................................................................................ 5-2

    Appleton Farm .............................................................................................................. 5-2

    Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary ............................................................................... 5-3 Fee-simple lands of Essex County Greenbelt Association ........................................ 5-3

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    Hamilton-Wenham Open Land Trust ........................................................................ 5-3

    Town of Hamilton Water Supply Lands .................................................................... 5-4

    Chebacco Woods .......................................................................................................... 5-5

    Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea Lands ...................................................................... 5-5

    Harvard Forest .............................................................................................................. 5-5

    Private Lands protected by Conservation Restrictions ............................................. 5-6 B Unprotected parcels.................................................................................................. 5-8

    Miscellaneous town holdings ...................................................................................... 5-8

    U.S. Air Force ................................................................................................................ 5-9

    Other significant unprotected parcels ........................................................................ 5-9

    Chapter 61, 61A and 61B Lands As of Jan. 2007, assessors records show an

    additional 270 acres for which a simplified list as below has not yet been compiled.

     ........................................................................................................................................ 5-9

    Section 6 COMMUNITY GOALS..................................................................................... 6-1 A Description of Process .............................................................................................. 6-1 B Statement of Open Space and Recreation Goals .................................................... 6-1 Section 7 ANALYSIS OF NEEDS ..................................................................................... 7-1 A Summary of Resource Protection Needs ................................................................ 7-1 B Summary of Community‘s Needs ........................................................................... 7-2

    Growth management strategies .................................................................................. 7-2

    Action on housing ........................................................................................................ 7-3

    Reproduction of the Questionnaire, with summary of responses............................ 7-5

    Part III. Open Space, Recreation & Historic Preservation ....................................... 7-7 Part IV. Growth Management ................................................................................... 7-8 Part V. Housing ................................................................................................................ 7-9

    Part VI. Community Facilities and Services ................................................................... 7-9 C Management Needs, Potential Change of Use ..................................................... 7-12

    Management needs .................................................................................................... 7-12

    Potential change of use .............................................................................................. 7-14 Section 8 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ............................................................................. 8-1 Section 9 Town of Hamilton Open Space Five-Year Action Plan ................................. 9-1

    Section 10 Public Comments ........................................................................................ 10-1 Section 11 Maps ............................................................................................................. 11-1

    Section 12 References .................................................................................................... 12-1

    OPEN SPACE.............................................................................................................. 12-1 Section 13 Town of Hamilton Americans with Disabilities Act Information .......... 13-1

    A Town Office of Disabilities Commission .............................................................. 13-1 B Town Section 504 Coordinator .............................................................................. 13-1 C Documentary exhibits on Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance in Town

    of Hamilton ..................................................................................................................... 13-1

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    Exhibit 1 - TOWN OF HAMILTON ADA SECTION 504 ....................................... 13-3

    Exhibit 2 - PERSONNEL BYLAW SECTION 13.01: Occupational Sick Leave ...... 13-4

    Exhibit 3 - SECTION 13.02: Non-Occupational Sick Leave .................................... 13-4 Exhibit 4 - Personnel By-law SECTION 13.05: Family Medical Leave ................... 13-6

    Exhibit 5 - Personnel By-law Section 14.01 Death in the Family: Paid Leave ....... 13-8

    Exhibit 6 - Text of Sample Employment Announcement/Advertisement ............ 13-8

    Exhibit 7 - Personnel By-law Section 5.03: Medical Examination of Job Applicants

     ...................................................................................................................................... 13-8

    Exhibit 8 - Employment Application ...................................................................... 13-10 Exhibit 9 - Personnel By-law Section 15.01: Personnel Grievances ...................... 13-14 Exhibit 10 - Department of Public Works - ACSFME labor contract Article 3

    Discrimination and Coercion................................................................................... 13-14 Exhibit 11 - Department of Public Works - ACSFME labor contract Article 12

    Grievance and Arbitration Procedure .................................................................... 13-14 Exhibit 12 - Police Union labor contract. Article 18 Grievance Procedure .......... 13-15

    Exhibit 13 - Town Hall Union contract. Article 11 Grievance and Arbitration

    Procedure .................................................................................................................. 13-17

    Exhibit 14 - Town Hall Union contract. Article 26 Compliance with the Americans

    With Disabilities Act ................................................................................................ 13-19 Exhibit 15 - Emergency Center Dispatcher contract. Article 10 Grievance and

    Arbitration Procedure .............................................................................................. 13-19 Exhibit 16 - Emergency Center Dispatcher contract. Article 25 Compliance with

    Americans with Disabilities Act .............................................................................. 13-20

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    SECTION 1

    PLAN SUMMARY

    Hamilton‘s history is that of a rural town, one in which the stewardship

    of land for agriculture, equestrian use, and passive enjoyment of nature and wildlife has been a primary factor in shaping its character. Although the town functions as a residential suburb to Boston and the North Shore and the Route 128 urbanized areas, preservation of its remaining rural character is a high priority which calls for continued attention to open space and recreation strategies in the face of unrelenting development pressures. This theme dominates both the original 1965 Master Plan for Hamilton, authored by the renowned planner Charles Eliot, and its recently updated version, as well as successive Open Space and Recreation Plans, including this one.

    The preparation of this plan involved:

    ; Distributing town-wide questionnaires and holding

    public meetings, which validated the idea that town

    residents perceive and treasure this rural feel, and

    determined what they consider it important to

    accomplish in promoting open space and recreation

    opportunities;

    ; Updating inventory of open space resources, special

    natural features, and cultural resources of the town;

    ; Analyzing the challenges to maintaining these values

    as development pressure continues.

    ; Formulating a five-year action plan to evaluate

    priorities regarding current open space goals. This

    plan focuses on assuring real, durable protection for

    the valued open spaces most vulnerable to residential

    development.

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    SECTION 2

    INTRODUCTION

    A Statement of Purpose

    In revising and articulating Hamilton‘s open space goals, the committee has acted with a certain understanding of what is intended by the term ―open space.‖ Various facets of that understanding are reflected in the protection the committee seeks for valued, though sometimes unarticulated, resources. In answer to the often-asked question ―What is open space?‖

    the committee recognizes that the interests protected by Article 97 and guaranteed to the people of Massachusetts as constitutional rights should be considered in determining what parcels to prioritize for protection. These interests include biodiversity and habitat protection, water resources protection, preservation of working and historic farms, preservation of scenic vistas, and passive-use recreation. These priorities have been adopted pursuant to the constitutional provisions by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and emphasize preservation of natural resources and the ability of the public to enjoy those preserved natural areas.

    The committee supports the agency in its statement that ―We must be careful, however, not to view open space solely as a mechanism against growth. In Massachusetts, our landscape encourages the natural and built environments to work in unison, not against one another. This model creates a unique, vibrant and healthy place to live, work, play and visit.‖

    In evaluating open space parcels for preservation, it must be remembered that our town already has a great deal of open space that is permanently protected. In two areas of town, roughly at the eastern and western extremities, there are large amounts of open space that are contiguous to similar quantities of open space in neighboring towns. These form large wildlife corridors, provide significant watershed

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    protection, include several working farms and forests and provide exceptional passive recreational resources. While the above criteria may indicate suitability for protection, a further goal and consideration should be a parcel‘s ability to add to these substantial and relatively undeveloped tracts. Hamilton‘s open space program is not intended to promote or prevent development, to provide municipal revenue, or to determine land use. Such considerations result in the pitting of economic interests against environmental ones, with the risk of the latter losing out. Rather, this plan is intended as a guide to preserving the various resources under the open space umbrella as Hamilton continues to grow and change.

    B Planning Process and Public

    Participation

    This update of the Hamilton Open Space and Recreation Plan was developed by an informal group of citizen volunteers. The initial impetus for the project came from members of the Conservation Commission in consultation with members of the Citizens‘ Action Planning Committee, particularly the Open Space and Recreation Subcommittee, Planning Board, Board of Health, other town boards, and the Hamilton-Wenham Open Land Trust, Essex County Greenbelt

    Association, Essex County Community Foundation, Essex County Trail Association and other nonprofits.

    A questionnaire was prepared and distributed to town residents in cooperation with the Citizens Action Planning Committee. The results of these public opinion surveys were the subject of a series of public discussions.

    The format of this plan conforms to the specifications set forth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of

    Conservation Services.

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    SECTION 3

    COMMUNITY SETTING

    A Regional Context

     General Physical Location

    Hamilton is located in Boston‘s North Shore region in Essex County, Massachusetts. The Ipswich River forms the northern boundary between Hamilton and the Town of Ipswich. Hamilton is bordered by Essex to the east, Wenham to the south and Topsfield to the west, with Manchester touching the southeast corner of Town. See ―Location map of Hamilton‖, in the map section.

    The center of Hamilton is approximately 27 miles by road from the State House in Boston. Routes 128 and I-95, important commuter highways in the Boston metropolitan region, are located a few miles from Hamilton‘s borders. The Newburyport line of the commuter rail system connects South Hamilton with Newburyport, Ipswich, Beverly, Salem, and Boston. Beverly Airport is convenient for recreational flying and corporate aircraft. Proximity to transportation corridors, scenic amenities and a reputation for fine schools have made Hamilton an attractive ―bedroom community‖ for

    professionals working in Boston, Beverly, Salem, and Route 128 technical and industrial firms.

    Though sections of Hamilton possess suburban characteristics, it would be inaccurate to classify Hamilton as merely another Boston suburb. The handsome Historic District and several large tracts of forest and agricultural lands contribute to Hamilton‘s ―small town‖ New England feeling. Some of these open lands are protected from development by conservation restrictions or by inclusion in state parks or nature preserves owned by environmental organizations. However some of the town‘s remaining open land is fully developable should current private owners decide to sell.

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    The North Shore‘s trails, lakes, beaches and marinas afford many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hamilton residents can make use of ocean beaches and marinas outside of Town borders. Hamilton‘s trail system is a recreational resource of immense value to horseback riders, hikers, cross-country skiers and mountain bikers. Many of these trails connect and pass through large undeveloped tracts of land that are wholly or partially located within the boundaries of neighboring towns. The Massachusetts Audubon Society‘s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, located primarily in Topsfield and Wenham, extends into Hamilton. Bradley Palmer State Park is composed of Hamilton and Topsfield woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. Chebacco Woods and other open-space areas at the confluence of Hamilton Manchester and Wenham extend out along the backbone of Cape Ann to West Gloucester. The Manchester and Essex Open Land Trust refers to the area as "The Wilderness." There is a comprehensive trails system connecting all of the towns in the Wilderness, and that includes trails in Chebacco Woods and certain trails which begin behind house lots which front on Chebacco Road. Many of the Grass Rides (The Trustees of Reservations) trails overlook Hamilton‘s and Ipswich‘s scenic Appleton Farm. Chebacco Lake, a scenic and boating resource, lies within Hamilton and Essex. Finally, the network of trails connecting Gordon College and the ponds and lakes in southeastern Hamilton cross back and forth between Hamilton, Wenham and Manchester, has a total length of more than 100 miles.

    The Ipswich River offers historical (the location of the old Willowdale mill , now an ECGA reservation), and recreational (canoeing, swimming and fishing) as well as natural (animal, plant and fish habitat) value. Other local waterways of interest are the Miles River, Wenham Swamp and Wenham Lake. While the plentiful freshwater supply undoubtedly aided the farmers in Hamilton‘s early history, the development of the town as a recreational area was dependent on the existence of these waters. Today the ponds and streams remain an integral part of the scenic quality which draws people to the area.

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     Resources Shared With Neighboring Towns

    Natural resource areas, and particularly water resources, are no respecters of town boundaries, so although this document is centered on Hamilton, it is evident throughout that our resources and open spaces interact with those of neighboring towns, and in the case of the Ipswich River, even far away towns.

    The Ipswich River is approximately 35 miles long and its watershed covers about 155 square miles, extending from the Wilmington-Reading area inland to the sea at Ipswich. The surface and groundwater resources of the basin are intensively used for public water supply (see Table 3-1 Towns Drawing Municipal Water From Ipswich River basin).

    Table 3-1 Towns Drawing Municipal Water From Ipswich River basin Beverly

    Danvers

    Hamilton

    Lynn

    Middleton

    North Reading

    Peabody

    Reading

    Salem

    Topsfield

    Wenham

    Wilmington

    Chebacco Lake is a key recreation and water resource for Essex as well as Hamilton. Manchester owns and uses water resources in Hamilton. Hamilton, Wenham, and Topsfield all have parts of the Great Wenham Swamp wetlands system within their boundaries. Clearly, resource and recreation planning for our town must be to a great extent regional planning as well.

    Hamilton shares many active and passive municipal resources with other North Shore communities. (Only a brief summary will be given here; for a more detailed account see the ―2001

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