For several months, the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission has attempted to find a way to control unauthorized water taking from the Mattapoisett River by local landscaper Yard Boss. During the November 23 meeting, the commission invited both Vincent Furtado, Department of Public Works superintendent of the Town of Fairhaven, and Yard Boss owner Todd Rodrigues to discuss the matter.
Conservation Commission Chairman Bob Rogers asked Furtado to come forward and explain his attendance at the meeting. Furtado said that in 2014, his office received notification that Rodrigues was drawing water from the Mattapoisett River at the station located on River Road, a property owned by the Town of Fairhaven. He said letters were sent from his office and also from an attorney working with the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Protection Advisory Committee asking Rodrigues to cease taking water. Yard Boss never responded.
According to Furtado, Rochester eventually got Rodrigues to file for a permit to take water from Snipatuit Pond and Wolf Island Road after he was found taking water at those locations.
Furtado said the actions of Rodrigues had been the impetus for the MRVWPAC’s writing water protection bylaws that will be presented at town meetings in 2016 at the four towns affected: Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Rochester.
“There is nothing we can do but ask for your help,” Furtado told Rogers, “…maybe install a sign ‘no water withdrawal.’”
Rogers then invited Rodrigues to join them at the conference table. Rogers started the conversation by saying, “You have a relationship with The Bay Club. They have a water reservoir that is non-jurisdictional; with their permission, you can draw water there.”
Rodrigues was then offered an opportunity to explain his actions. He told the commissioners that 10 years ago he had received verbal approval from Carlos Nicolosi, a previous Conservation Commission chairman.
“He said he didn’t have a problem with it expect during herring season,” Rodrigues claimed. He also said that he eventually received a permit from Rochester.
To further demonstrate his due diligence, Rodrigues said he had been in contact with the Mattapoisett Police Department, the local environmental police, and the Department of Environmental Protection. He claimed that the DEP had no problem with his equipment or the water withdrawals.
“I received verbal approval,” said Rodrigues. “We are not doing any harm to the environment. We are doing nothing wrong!”
Rodrigues then criticized what he dubbed “an unprofessional approach” by the commissioners saying, “When do we communicate through The Wanderer? You have crossed the line.” He told Rogers, “Your lack of research is appalling!”
Rogers responded, “Every place that you withdraw water you need a permit.” He told Rodrigues that a permit could be issued if the landowner gave permission and the town issued a permit.
Rodrigues continued to defend himself.
“Your previous board allowed it, a verbal permission,” stated Rodrigues. “Don’t paint me as the bad guy.”
Rogers reiterated, “You don’t have permission of the landowner and you don’t have a permit.”
Rodrigues then took umbrage to Rogers having called Rodrigues “shameless” during a previous meeting, so much so that Rodrigues angrily told him, “You are going to see shameless, Bob!” Then he exited the meeting.
Rogers thanked Furtado for attending the meeting before moving on through the agenda.
Other business handled was the approval of four Requests for Determination of Applicability. Those were granted to Brian Martin, 16 Oliver Street, to replace a deck; Andrew Perkins, 11 King Phillips Road, to replace a concrete foundation; Walter and Linda Truax, 23 Angelica Avenue, for the construction of a shed; and Prentiss and Mary Higgins, 7 Shipyard Lane, for an addition to an existing garage. An application from William Farran, Angelica Avenue, also for a RDA, was continued to give the applicant additional time to gather environmental details.
Conrad and Janice Roy, 56 Ocean Drive, were issued an after-the-fact Notice of Intent for a piling they installed for a beach pulley system for their watercraft.
Certificates of Compliance were issued to Margot Kalkanis, 12 West Hill Road; Liam McBrien, 7 Bay View Road; and Myron and Marilyn Mazer, 7 Holly Woods Road.
Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold shared during her report that Leisure Shores Marina had completed the replacement of floats in compliance with the commission request.
Commissioner Peter Newton said, “I am very pleased how they ultimately responded.” Leidhold said the DEP was working with the marina on marshland clean up which is ongoing.
On a lighter note, the commission agreed to let the selectmen know they were in favor of accepting a land gift from Jeanne Downey for property located off Mattapoisett Neck Road near the entrance to the bike path.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for December 14 at 6:30 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room.
By Marilou Newell