The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
East Over Reservation
Hales Brook Tract & Sippican River Tract
Take a Hike!
By Jean Perry
The sun had just burned a hole through the gray morning clouds when I started out on the wooden-boardwalked hiking trail at East Over Reservation off County Road. The light sparkled on the dew-soaked foliage on that muggy morning in the Marion woods, and there was a stillness, a calm about the place.
This is another fantastic Tri-Town property overseen by the Sippican and the Rochester Land Trusts that I happily hiked on the morning of September 2. I love a good raised wooden platform zig-zagging deeper into the woods like the ones they have at East Over (which can be rather slick in the early morning, so tread with care).
Hiking is my preferred method of therapy because it is so multisensory - the aromatherapy of the fragrant wet foliage of the morning, the sound therapy of the birds and the ubiquitous crickets, and the element of proprioception moving through space in an environment that is wild and free.
By the time I hit my first trail post marked number one, I was further from the labor and logistics of my long weekend of moving into my new home, and closer to losing myself in the moment than I had been in days.
The trail map provided at the kiosk gave me the choice of going left or right. Left seemed like the way I'd rather go, which veers away from a series of loops that I decided I would save for another day.
No longer was I thinking about the cable technician appointment later in the day, or the stacked boxes of miscellaneous items that have no proper place of their own. I was at East Over Reservation - having a light breakfast of wild blueberries that have taken over the forest floor for as far as my eyes could see.
I could hear only the sounds of nature - its birds, insects, bees, nothingness, everythingness. Even Hales Brook stood still, its amphibian inhabitants making no sound as they create silent ripples in the still water while birds carried on their conversations around me.
The trails are very well marked, and the maps are rather detailed. There are plenty available at the main kiosk at the head of the trail and definitely a keeper for the glovebox of your car.
East Over Reserve is so multifaceted. Around every bend is another personality, each one as equally endearing as the one before - pine groves, blueberry bush bramble, wetlands, each with their own perfume, light, and shift in temperature.
The trail is split by a dirt road, looping around and passing the Sippican River all the way back to the road, and then continuing on a backtrack leading to the start.
Although the dry season is upon us, the Sippican River trickled on, and I rested for a moment to watch it upon an obliging tree that had fallen not too long ago. Nearby, I pondered a corral of sorts fashioned out of slender tree trunks, wondering how long it had been there and for what it was constructed.
The walk back was faster, since I had already hiked carefully one way, trying to avoid each spider that sewed its silky trap the night before, only to wind up on a free round-trip ride across the woods on my back, or my head. I was wearing a wig of silky webs by the time I reached the dirt road signaling the return trip back, so I picked up my pace to get a little exercise in the fresh air. The early morning was turning to day, the sun heating up the humidity in the air, making it feel more like I was swimming through the woods rather than walking.
Now an hour after beginning my walk, the whooshing of passing vehicles closing in and spotting the boardwalks again signified the winding down of my hike and the return to the details and my day ahead. A convention of Blue Jays above flew off, reconvening in another corner of the woods as I said farewell to the hundreds of little white Indian Pipes along the walk back.
East Over Reservation is a whopping 322 acres of conservation land with about two and a half miles of hiking trails. There is off street parking in a turnout from the road, and the kiosk is visible from County Road. This one is going on my return list to visit as each season happens upon us.
Do you have a favorite hiking spot in the Tri-Town area? Take a hike and send us your photos at email@example.com!
Joseph Meigs: Farmer, Shipbuilder, Merchant, & Judge
Mattapoisett Historical Society
By Marilou Newell
Once again, Seth Mendell - educator, historian, and President Emeritus of the Mattapoisett Historical Society - enthralled a gathering of eager listeners when he gave his final talk of the summer season on Squire Joseph Meigs, Sr. at Shipyard Park on August 31.
Mendell, speaking nearly extemporaneously for an hour on one of Mattapoisett's most important residents from the past, gave the attendees a peek into our rich local history. The evening's event was augmented by the creeping insistence of sea fog, which gave Mendell's talk an ethereal effect, as though the past and its people were returning from a long sea voyage.
Mendell told the assembled that the Puritan Migration brought Meigs' ancestors to these shores. He said that between the years 1620 and 1640, a grand migration of Puritans landed on shores along Massachusetts' coast. He said that 75,000 people exited Europe during those years, with 15,000 finally residing in and around the Bay Colony area that encompassed Mattapoisett. Of those was one John Meigs who resided in Rochester (of which Mattapoisett and Marion were part at that time). He would distinguish himself by becoming a prosperous farmer marrying one Alice Dexter. They would have a son, Joseph, born on September 11, 1776. This Meigs would distinguish himself far beyond what his father and mother could have dreamed.
From an early age, Joseph Meigs had an inquiring mind, an intellectual desire to understand things beyond farming. He was interested in literature and the law. His mother and others would say that if you couldn't find him, when you finally did, no doubt, a book would be in his hands. He had a driving thirst for knowledge.
Mendell told us that during the early years while Meigs was growing up on the farm, farmers took their produce down to the wharves to sell, either directly to the 400 or more workers employed in the numerous shipyards that lined today's Water Street and Shipyard Park or to the numerous inns and taverns that serviced the huge population of the day. It wasn't long before Meigs yearned to leave the farm and learn the shipbuilding trade. With his father's permission, he did just that.
Mendell said that Meigs' first job in the shipyard was as an apprentice caulker - one who pounded hemp and other caulking materials between the seams of the wooden boat planks. Mendell asked us to imagine those days when ships were rising 30 or more feet over head, one after the other lining Water Street all the way to where town beach is today. One could nearly smell the newly-sawed Georgia oaks and pine that were imported from the south for the whaling ships. An astounding fact Mendell imparted was that Meigs would have pounded seven miles of caulking material in an average whaling boat. Meigs was destined for greater things, however. He was soon a carpenter, then master carpenter, a position one can akin to shipyard manager or business manager today.
In 1799, after years of advancing himself through shipyard work, he purchased property on Water Street where the Inn at Shipyard Park sits today. He opened a tavern and general store at this site. Shortly thereafter, he established his own shipyard, one that would become renowned for quality ships that could withstand long sea voyages. It was not unusual for shipyard owners to also own inns and taverns that would provide food and drink to the massive number of workers employed along the waterfront.
Meigs, ever restless to expand his horizons, was not satisfied with merely being a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder; he craved more knowledge and intellectual pursuits. He traveled to Boston to pursue an education in law. During that time, he met his future wife at a tavern he frequented on his journeys from Mattapoisett to Boston. He married Amelia Loring. She would become his right hand in managing the tavern and general store businesses, freeing him to pursue even greater positions with legislative power.
Mendell said that in 1816, Meigs received his law degree and practiced before the "Great and General Court of Plymouth." In 1829, he became a Representative in the Massachusetts House and in 1838, a Senator.
One of the footnotes to Meigs' career is that in his government position he was able to gain the ear of John Quincy Adams, who released funds for the building for Ned's Point Lighthouse. Amen.
Meigs' shipyard, under the management of his son Joseph Jr., became world renowned for its quality workmanship. Meigs Sr. was tireless in his marketing effort, heretofore not done by other shipyards, to win new contracts by traveling the circuit espousing the quality of ships from his shipyard.
Mendell said that nearly every aspect of the whaling industry was covered by Squire Meigs' businesses. From providing provisions through his general store and tavern enterprises, building ships, securing raw materials from southern producers of live oak and southern yellow pine, to having his own fleet of whaling ships, Meigs and company were there.
In 1841, tragedy struck the Meigs family when Joe Junior was stricken by pneumonia and succumbed to it. Though his younger son, Loring, stepped in to fill his brother's role, Joseph Sr, Mendell said, was heart sick with grief. Loring, for his part, would become a prime mover in the extension of the Fairhaven Railroad through Mattapoisett and beyond.
Meigs carried on in spite of his sorrow, including struggling through the horrific loss of one of his whaling ships as it sat moored off Ned's Point. After returning from a years-long whaling trip, the ship was too heavily laden with whale oil to dock at the wharf. The deeper waters off Ned's Point were sufficiently deep enough to allow the ship to anchor as it was off-loaded. Eager to feel land under their feet and loved ones in their arms, all but two sailors were released from duty. During an evening in 1846, as the ship lay waiting for the rest of its cargo to be brought to shore, an onboard accident set the ship ablaze. It was reported that the barrels of whale oil exploded like bombs for hours as the ship and its load burned.
This incident would later find Meigs doing battle with the Sun Mutual Insurance Company, who refused to pay up even though the ship had been insured. Eventually, Meigs would win his case in a New York court.
Mendell believes that the loss of Joseph Junior and the stress of losing such an important load in the form of whale oil impacted Meigs' health. He died in September of 1846 at the age of 70.
One tender anecdotal story about Joseph Meigs is that he was instrumental in the beautification of Mattapoisett through the planting of elm trees. Today, only one remains as a testament to Meigs' life and times. It is located adjacent to the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, standing in silent vigilance over the building Mendell has supported and assisted for so many years. Surely, this would please the Squire.
A Journey of a Lifetime
By Jean Perry
Years ago, a Rochester man took a long-distance motorcycle trip from Rochester to Newfoundland, Canada, and realized he wanted more. He, like his father before him, developed a love of motorcycles and a lust for wandering far from home, and this was the year his dream of riding his Harley Davidson across country would be realized.
Davis Sullivan of Rochester works in the boating business and sits on the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals. Back in July before a ZBA meeting, he announced that he was about to take some time off from work to ride his Harley Davidson across the country. A few of his associates seated at the table thought Sullivan must be a little crazy.
On September 2 during an interview, Sullivan described how he felt about his first significant solo trip to Newfoundland, and the inspiration behind his love of long-distance bike riding.
"After that trip to Newfoundland, I kind of got the bug," said Sullivan. "So I decided to go cross-country."
Sullivan's late father got him into motorcycles when he was younger and made a cross-country trip of his own when he was in his 50s. It was always Sullivan's dream to make a similar trip of his own, and now that he was 53 years old, Sullivan decided this was the year.
But first, he needed a motorcycle that would get him there: one capable of making the trip, and one that he could trust to get him there. In 2011, he purchased a 2008 Harley Davidson Road King, keeping in mind this 2014 trip from Rochester all the way to Vashon Island in Washington, where Sullivan's sister now resides.
Sullivan organized the trip in such a way that he would spend his time off from work riding out west, and then have the motorcycle shipped back home so that Sullivan could take a flight back. He went online and coordinated the shipment with a shipping company near Seattle and planned his journey.
"A week later, I left in the pouring rain on Saturday, August 2," said Sullivan. It was not an ideal start at all to the trip, especially hours later on his first day when he was stuck on the New York Thruway - 225 miles into his travels - needing to be towed because he lacked a sufficient repair kit. Of course, being a Saturday, all the bike shops were closed, which delayed his trip until Monday morning when a repair shop opened and finally got Sullivan back on his way.
"Believe it or not, I had two flat tires along the way," said Sullivan. He said he also saw rain at least once a day for the first five days of his trip, which failed to dampen Sullivan's spirits, especially once he started checking off the spectacular sites he would stop at along the way.
His first remarkable stop: Mount Rushmore, followed by the Crazy Horse Memorial in Custer County, South Dakota.
"I'd been to both coasts before, but I'd never seen the interior," said Sullivan. He also rode South Dakota Highway 87 called the Needles Highway, a National Scenic Byway, steered his way through the Black Hills, explored the Wyoming Mountains from the seat of his Harley, and rode through Yellowstone and the Bear Tooth Mountains of Montana - all places to which Sullivan deemed his most memorable. "The landscape of the west was just incredible," said Sullivan.
Weather was a big factor throughout the trip, said Sullivan. "It's a drag," he said about when he encountered a rainstorm along the way. "You got to suit up and get going."
Sullivan's second flat tire occurred while travelling from south to north through Yellowstone National Park. But he saw the buffalo, the grizzly bears, and the elk nonetheless - thanks to a can of Fix-a-Flat he had on hand that got him far enough to get his tire repaired.
Almost 3,600 miles later, he made it to his sister's house on Vashon Island on August 12. On the plane ride home, Sullivan sat and wrote in his journal while the thoughts and memories were still fresh in his mind.
If you ask Sullivan why he took this trip in the first place, he will tell you his father inspired him to do it.
"Right after he retired, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease," said Sullivan about his father who passed away ten years ago. "And basically, his retirement was done..." He continued, "So I decided to do it now while I could."
It tested Sullivan. He said it was about getting out of your comfort zone.
"It just takes a lot of nerve to do it by yourself," said Sullivan. "You kind of find out what you're made of."
Critical Bike Path Public Hearing
Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path
By Marilou Newell
At long last, Phase I of the next construction segments of the Mattapoisett Bike Path has received a hearing date with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. This very pivotal public hearing is scheduled for September 25 at 7:00 pm in the Old Hammondtown School auditorium. Depending on how this hearing goes, either Mattapoisett will have a complete bike path in the coming years or it won't.
After exhaustive efforts on multiple fronts, including town meetings where the bike path was favorably viewed and funded, both the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path and the Bike Path Committee will meet face-to-face in a public hearing held by MassDOT.
Bonnie DeSousa, whose work on behalf of the Mattapoisett Bike Path might well go down in the history books for the shear amount of time and energy she has poured into trying to secure a safe biking route for the community, called a meeting on August 27 to share details about the hearing.
She said that MassDOT is an enormous department, whose responsibilities include massive highway projects, and it moves at a very slow pace; therefore, finally getting a hearing is a huge milestone for the bike path project. DeSousa said that it has been terribly difficult to get clear information from the DOT, at times receiving confusing directives, or worse yet, no response at all. "They do major projects ... our little one mile doesn't get a lot of attention..." she shared.
Now with the hearing close at hand, she impressed upon the 12 or so attendees the importance of spreading the word and getting citizens to the hearing to show support and community commitment. DeSousa further noted that the Phase I section that will be the focus of the hearing impacts projects in other towns as well.
Phase I is the section that will unite the bike path that presently ends at Mattapoisett Neck with Route 6. The plan is to have the new piece wiggle through tender environmental wetlands near the YMCA and Reservation Golf Course as gently as possible and come out at Depot Street. A Phase II segment would eventually bring the bike path to the Industrial Park area, but Phase I must pass muster first.
DeSousa asked that people send letters to William Chi, Project Manager, MassDOT, Highway Division, Room 6340, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA, 02116, expressing how this project will positively impact the lives of the residents in the region and in Mattapoisett. She said that letters should speak to the health benefits of having a safe biking space for people of all ages, while possibly making bicycling a more integral part of a household, such as using it to get to work or shopping.
She said that if people want to speak at the public hearing they should be prepared to do so from a written statement, and leave with the DOT members the hardcopy for the file.
Mattapoisett has invested in the process by voting for funds in the tens of thousands of dollars to help offset engineering costs. Now, DeSousa feels, residents who support this project need to turn out for the public hearing- and the more the better.
In a recent conversation with Town Administrator Mike Gagne, DeSousa said that certain town hall departments will be asked to participate in the hearing. Selectmen will also be in attendance.
DeSousa said that she will be contacting everyone again regarding a letter writing rally tentatively scheduled for September 10 at a time and place to be announced.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee is September 11 at 7:30 pm in the town hall conference room. She urged people to attend that meeting as well.
CVS Proposed for Marion
Marion Planning Board
By Marilou Newell
In the lead up to what will probably be a long road for the developers of CVS, the Marion Planning Board met with the point people for Mark Investments, LLC at their special September 2 meeting.
Calling the meeting a "pre-submission" conference, Chairman Stephen Kokkins broke the discussion into two parts: the relocation of the historic Captain Hadley House, and the CVS building and site plan.
Representing Mark Investments was Marc Deshaies of the Perry, Hicks, Deshaies and Mello Law Firm of New Bedford. Deshaies discussed the projects in broad strokes at Kokkins' request.
The Captain Hadley house - currently an office building located at the northeast corner of Front Street and Route 6 - would need to be moved to the lot immediately to its north to make room for the proposed 13,000 square-foot CVS that developers wish to construct at the corner. Deshaies said that traffic studies have been completed by MDM Transportation Consultants and that Bohler Engineering has begun some engineering work. Representatives from those firms were also on hand to add expert details to the discussion.
Deshaies also said that the entrances for the CVS would include two on the Route 6 side of the property and one on the Front Street side. There would also be a third entrance on Route 6 for the relocated Hadley house. He said that all FEMA regulations would be met by raising the building 17 feet, and during upcoming meetings with the Conservation Commission, wetland delineations and other environmental impact issues would be vetted to the satisfaction of the town. Deshaies also said that the CVS is planned to have a drive-up pharmacy window.
Dean Holt of Mark Investment said his company has a great deal of experience in communities such as Marion and has built 150 similar projects. Engineer Josh Swirling of Bohler Engineering outlined a vegetated border to "soften" the lines of the building and, due to the height requirements by FEMA, a stair and ramp system would be designed into the building.
The board members were not shy in expressing their concerns. Eileen Marum was concerned that the traffic study was not in-depth enough, noting that a CVS at that location would add to an already busy and hazardous location near Cumberland Farms.
Kokkins said that this project was two and a half times larger than any other project that has been proposed for the community in recent years and then read from prepared notes intended to drive home the point that Marion was a seaside residential community where buildings needed to "conform with the neighborhood characteristics." He also said that Marion has published architectural guidelines that he said the applicant's team needed to study.
Kokkins was also concerned that the traffic study did not take into consideration the number of towed vehicles - such as landscape and boat trailers moving along Front Street at that intersection - and he felt certain that large tractor trailers making deliveries to a CVS at that location would only add to the congestion.
"This doesn't fit," said board member Steve Gonsalves about the conceptual drawing of the CVS. "For me to feel a sense of pride, we've got to do something about this building." He added that other CVS buildings, namely those on the Cape, are much more attractive than the one planned for Marion.
"The architectural look is not close yet to what we want in Marion ..." said Kokkins.
Popitz shared his opinion, saying, "The town of Marion needs businesses to increase the tax base ... appearance should fit into the town." He continued, "I don't know if we need a CVS, we have pharmacies close by ... I'm very concerned about its proximity to the flood zone."
The few residents who spoke did not hold back their negative feeling about the project. Lee Harrison of 390 Marion Road noted that Tabor Academy traffic alone was a consideration at the Front Street intersection, and that too many corporations were coming into town. He wondered why they do not consider building the CVS at the corner of Point Road and Route 6 where empty businesses now stand.
Anna Hays of 372 Conserve Road questioned, "Why are you building in a flood zone at all?"
"We'll need time to study this complex proposal," said Kokkins. He also told the applicant(s) that they could anticipate the town requesting independent peer review for a project of this scope.
Kokkins invited the development team to return to the next Planning Board meeting with more information and some responses to the questions and concerns that had been raised. Deshaies said they would do so.
In other business, board member Norman Hills brought the members up to date on the Master Plan project which has been ongoing for some months. He said that the committee would be meeting 30 minutes prior to regular Planning Board meetings to complete their work. Hills said that more funds were needed, that a part-time planner would be beneficial, that a public meeting is being planned and would be held at the Music Hall, and that a grant had been submitted for an additional $18,000 to help fund the effort.
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is September 15 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Old Neck Road Shed Decision Postponed
Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals
By Camden Gaspar
Rochester resident John Scheub came before the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals during a brief meeting to request that he be granted permission to tear down his old shed and put up a bigger one in the same spot in his front yard.
Scheub, of 585 Old Neck Road, was seeking a variance under Section 8 C. 2 of the Rochester bylaws regarding accessory structures. The bylaw states that "no accessory structure other than a roadside stand shall be located in the front yard area."
While no abutters appeared to contest Scheub's request, the board was unable to grant him the variance because the plan that Scheub brought before them was outdated and did not have the proper dimensions regarding the new shed.
"The way the yard is shaped, the shed is near Old Neck Road, but it's still the back yard," Scheub said.
Because neither the plan nor Scheub had any specific measurements to show exactly how far the shed would be away from the road, the board could not make a decision either way.
"We don't want to make this into a bigger thing than it is, but we need more than this to make a decision," Chairman Richard Cutler stated.
"Get an engineer to take a look at the property, get the measurements, and stamp the plans, said board member Kirby Gilmore. "Then we can decide at the next meeting."
The next Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals meeting is scheduled for September 25 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
MAB Says No To Private Dock
Mattapoisett Marine Advisory Board
By Marilou Newell
With concern that a proposed 290-foot private dock on Goodspeed Island is not good for the public use of public waterways, Mattapoisett's Marine Advisory Board sent a letter stating their position to the Board of Selectmen through Town Administrator Mike Gagne. The proposed dock had been discussed at their July meeting, at which time the majority of the board members felt such a structure would inhibit recreational use of the harbor around that location. Noting that they had not used the location for new moorings in an effort to keep the area open for public recreation, and that in the absence of specific bylaws that would manage this type of construction, they voted to let the Selectmen know their concerns. As of the August 28 meeting, they had not yet received a reply from the Selectmen.
The approved minutes of the July 31 meeting on this topic state: "...John Cornish makes a motion to write a letter to the Conservation Committee to refer to the waterfront management plan and delineation of recreation areas in decision making process, as well as consulting the MAB prior to issuing permit. Jeff Swift seconds motion and is unanimously passed. Robert Moore makes a motion that a letter be written to the BOS addressing the MAB concerns that there is a lack of bylaws regulating new piers and request new regulations be promulgated and presented at the next town meeting. Mike Chaplain seconds the motion and is unanimously passed..." Several members said that the beach right-of-way had been transferred from the previous owner to the new owner, which might make the obtaining of a permit easier for the applicant. Carlos DeSousa said some aspects of the project would have to be discussed in executive sessions.
In other business, Harbormaster Jill Simmons asked if she could remove a mooring that apparently is misplaced and presently interfering with a permitted mooring and the boat moored to it. The MAB members felt it was well within her scope of duties to have the errant mooring removed. She wondered aloud who should incur the cost associated with the removal. MAB stated the person who put it there.
Regarding the Waterfront Enterprise Fund, Selectman Paul Silva has indicated to the board that the town hall is still collecting all the necessary data and formatting it into an easy-to-digest format before releasing it to the MAB and the Harbormaster. DeSousa said they needed that piece before they could make recommendations on fee increases and finish their work on the 'rules and regulations'. Chairman Alan Gillis said that he would be meeting with Gagne the following day to discuss mooring inspection processes and changes to the 'rules and regulations'.
On the theme of mooring inspections, no changes will be made to the current regulations until the Selectmen have had an opportunity to weigh-in. That line item will be on the agenda during the BOS September 23 meeting.
Simmons gave her report which included: the purchase of three new floats to add spaces for dinghies; modifications to racking system at town landing to accommodate kayaks; a tour of the shoreline with members of the assessor's office that resulted in the discovery of 51 floats and docks that have not been permitted; and the unexpected damage from a recent storm that caused one boat to sink and left others with expensive repairs.
Simmons also reported that there seemed to be a criminal group operating in the area stealing outboard motors and damaging vessels, saying that there have been numerous break-ins reported. She said that the thieves have a similar modus operandi from Rhode Island to Wareham and that when she was an officer with the New Bedford Police Department, it was deduced that the motors are hauled away and shipped off shore.
The next meeting of the Marine Advisory Board is scheduled for September 25 at 7:00 pm in the town hall conference room.
Boats Stored on Conservation Land
Marion Conservation Commission
By Jean Perry
Unless there is any objection from town counsel, the Marion Conservation Commission August 27 decided to allow the owners of A&J Boatworks, located off Point Road, to resume storing boats on town-owned property until June 2015. The actual license to use the lot, which contains wetlands, for that purpose requires a final approval from the Board of Selectmen.
A representative for A&J Boatworks explained that, historically, the land has for years been used by the company to store boats in the winter. The Town ultimately purchased the land where boats are stored, which was originally part of a larger conveyance of land, and the management of the property was handed to the Conservation Commission.
A&J Boatworks continued using the property for the same use until ConCom recently received word from a resident that the boat storage on public land was going on, and the commission ordered the removal of the boats. A&J Boatworks complied and removed the boats.
Unable to find a viable alternative spot to store boats, the company requested a license to store boats at the usual spot over the winter until June 2015, giving it more time to find another location.
Commission Member Norman Hills suggested speaking with Town Counsel Jon Whitten before approval, just in case there was something in the law that would prevent them from allowing the use.
"I don't see a problem with looking at a license for a year ... because it's not a huge impact area, per se," said Chairman Lawrence Dorman. He later stated, "It sounds like there's very little downside ... for a one-time license till next year."
The commission began drafting a letter recommending the license approval to the Board of Selectmen, subject to verification from Whitten.
Also during the meeting, the commission wrapped up an after-the-fact Request for Determination of Applicability for an unpermitted 12- by 8-foot platform deck that Richard Costa of 37 River Road built directly next to the Sippican River.
The public hearing was continued from July 23 because of what Hills now called an administrative error regarding a designated application number.
Dorman was absent from the July public hearing, so he reviewed the photographs of the site of the unpermitted work and asked Costa a few questions.
Commission member Joel Hartley pointed out a ladder facing the estuary side that protruded off the deck and asked about its intended use. Costa stated that he had a mooring in the river and used the ladder to access a pathway through the wetland vegetation leading to the mooring.
"There should be no modification or addition to this thing without coming before us," said Hills to Costa, as a condition for approval.
Before issuing the negative determination, meaning no Notice of Intent Filing is required, the commission joked about having to bust a few other unpermitted projects within resource areas in town in order to redeem itself. One of the commission members sarcastically offered up the phrase "quid pro quo."
During further discussion, Hills estimated that the high tide mark was "about six to eight feet" away from the deck. In a follow-up interview, Hills confirmed that no engineer or wetlands specialist visited the site for analysis or to establish the high tide mark.
After the July 23 meeting, when asked if the commission would have approved Costa's deck if he had filed with the ConCom according to the law, he stated that it mostly likely would not have approved it.
In other matters, the commission gave a negative determination allowing a new bridge to cross a brook at White Eagle Parcel of Aucoot Woods for the Sippican Lands Trust. Eagle Scout Jack Gordon wishes to build a bridge for his project out of 100-percent donated wood and volunteer efforts.
Gordon addressed the commission himself, describing the bridge.
"It's going to be wide enough so that you can get wheelchairs [across] but not ATVs and things like that," said Gordon. The bridge will be built in sections off-site, and then installed at the site.
The commission also issued a negative determination granting approval for a new observation deck to replace the old dilapidated one at Peirson Woods.
"It's a little wiggly at the top," said Alan Harris of the SLT. "And getting up the ladder has become challenging for some folks."
The new observation deck will occupy the same footprint as the last one, but will be built up to six feet instead of five feet.
Finally, the commission vaguely discussed some letters of correspondence they received from several different parties, and stated that one matter of a wall at Sprague's Cove would be placed on the agenda for the next meeting. Hills said the ConCom received two letters regarding the matter: one from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the other from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Conservation Commission Allows Buffer Zone Work
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Camden Gaspar
The Rochester Conservation Commission gave its approval for two projects within a buffer zone surrounding vegetated wetlands to move forward.
The first was a Request of Determination of Applicability filed by Harris Real Estate Boston, LLC for property located at 45 Kings Highway, Rochester. The applicant, represented by Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering, Inc., proposed to raze the existing dwelling on the property, including removal of the existing septic system, driveway, and well. This work is proposed within the 100-foot buffer zone to a bordering vegetated wetland and isolated vegetated wetland.
The Commission granted approval for the proposal, provided that the board contacts the engineer once the well is closed to ensure all wiring and ancillary structures are removed and the well properly closed.
The second request heard by the commission was for a RDA filed by Bill LaPierre for property located at his home on 46 Paradise Lane. LaPierre, who was represented by Rob Ferreira of Infinity Landscape and Construction, proposed to replace a section of his patio within the 100-foot buffer zone of an isolated vegetated wetland protected under the Wetlands Protection Act.
In addition to the new section of patio, Ferreira said he recommended that LaPierre remove some existing trees that fall up to 40 feet within the buffer zone.
"We just want to remove some trees within the buffer zone to protect the homeowner's property. The trees were there when the home was built, but they've gotten too big," Ferreira said.
The commission granted approval for this project, but asked that rather than remove the stumps of the trees, they just grind them down. Additionally, Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon asked that she be notified when the project is done.
Discussion on the Notice of Intent filed by Gloria Doviak regarding her proposal to raze an existing dwelling and construct a new one within the 100-foot buffer zone surrounding the wetlands at 356 Snow's Pond Road was continued and will be discussed at the October 7 meeting.
In other business, Farinon discussed the possibility of putting the new "Explore Rochester" trail guides into a digital format that would be available for residents on the town's website. This would create a living document that could be consistently updated with new information on the trails.
The next Rochester Conservation Commission meeting will be held in the Town Hall meeting room on September 16 at 7:00 pm.
ORR Cell Phone Policy Changes
By Emma Cadieux
A new school year has started and is in full-speed motion in the Tri-Town area. This year is different than last, however, because Old Rochester Regional High School's cell phone policy - one that was more lenient than most other schools in the area - has changed. During the 2013-2014 school year, students were delighted to read that there was no specific rule against having your cell phone out all day and using it when you like. However, the 2104-2015 school handbook states that "Students may not use electronic devices in halls after 7:30 a.m. or before 2:03 p.m."
This means that students are being restricted in their cell-phone privileges, which has sparked some controversy among the students.
Sophomore Joshua Garcia says that the policy changes were prompted by "students who abused their privileges. Some students used their phones when they shouldn't have, and they simply ended up pushing their luck too far."
The new rules are easy enough to understand, written in bullet-point format on pages 55 and 56 of the Student Handbook. Essentially, students are not allowed to charge, listen to music, or use electronic devices in the building during school hours (unless in the cafeteria during lunch or if a teacher gives permission to do otherwise.)
The question, though, is will the students comply? A lot of students feel that the new rules deprive them of their freedom to access the news, to contact their parents in case of an emergency, or something along those lines. The real truth of the matter is that the students who were using their phones to do those things were not the students that prompted the changes. People were abusing their privilege, and in order to prevent it from getting worse, the school nipped it in the bud.
One way teachers can be assured that the students will adhere to the new rule is by enforcing it.
"No one will really be happy about it, but, I mean, there's nothing you can do about it," says sophomore Lauren Valente. "I think for right now the teachers are going to be on everyone about it, but after a while no one will really care about it," she predicts, and she isn't pulling this theory out of nowhere. A lot of new rules that the ORR school system has enacted over the years have had the same life cycle. They are enforced dutifully for the first few weeks of the school year, and then as the year goes on, and more and more infractions come up, the school gets more lenient about the rule, and eventually it fizzles out.
I asked several students whether they planned to abide by the rule, and 60 percent said that they plan to do so, which means that 40 percent said they are not planning to follow the rule.
"... I will be following the policy even though it will be hard. All summer I was on my phone, so I will probably have the urge to go on my phone, but once I remember the consequences I probably won't have such a big urge to go on it anymore," says an anonymous source.
Said consequences include the first offense, upon which you will be sent to Vice-Principal J. Parker's office to give him your device, which you may retrieve at the end of the day. You will also have to serve a detention. The second offense results in the same consequences. The third offense is more severe, resulting in a parent being notified, the device not being allowed in school for the remainder of the year, and the third and every offense after that will be considered a Category Two offense - including, but not limited to, suspension from school for up to five days, loss of student privileges, restitution or restoration of damage, parent conferences, Saturday school detention, and notification to Superintendent of Schools Douglas R. White Jr. about the situation.
Will this be enough to deter all students from breaking the rule? The only way we will see whether this rule will stick or fade away is to wait it out.
Copyright Wanderer Com Inc.