Town Cancels Cormorants' Cedar Pond Reservations

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Waterways , Public Utilities

Cormorants roosting on power lines above Cedar Pond.  FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS -- Selectmen and the conservation commission voted unanimously this week to close the “air” B&B enjoyed by roosting cormorants for decades at Cedar Pond.

In separate meetings, the boards accepted an agreement for judgment with Eversource in which the utility promises to relocate its 25kW distribution lines over the pond to nearby streets by the end of next year. It's hoped that will stop the aerial bombardment of the pond.

Presenting the deal to the conservation commission June 27, Town Counsel Michael Ford said the agreement lays out the facts in the Second District Court case, including the commission's enforcement order that said Eversource was violating the local wetlands bylaw by failing to prevent roosting over the pond. After months of legal skirmishing, the utility filed a plan to move the lines. The commission will be responsible for monitoring the relocation project to its completion, receiving updates at least every three months.

“Once the rerouting is complete and operational,” Ford said, “Eversource will remove the lines and structures over the pond.” All this, the pact stipulates, will be paid for by the utility.

The agreement states that Eversource “has no intention to remove transmission lines,” which carry a higher voltage than the distribution lines, from above the pond, Ford noted. Should the birds move to those lines, he said, the conservation commission's right to issue further enforcement orders – and Eversource's right to contest same – are protected.

At Tuesday's meeting, Locust Road resident Donna Shervanian asked what would happen if the cormorants roosted on the relocated poles along her and nearby roads. “Do we start all over again?” she said.

If that happened, Ford said, the commission could respond as it would to any concern in a natural resource area. He noted, however, that the board had determined the positions of the relocated lines were likely to be distant enough from such areas to not require an order of conditions for their installation.

Ford said the Second District Court case will be stayed until the lines are removed and relocated, then dismissed without prejudice.