Abutters Question ConCom on Solar Farm

Crystal Spring Road residents came out to hear how the Conservation Commission would handle wetland issues at the latest site planned for solar harvesting in Mattapoisett. Blue Wave LLC was fully prepared for and aware of abutter concerns and the need to address ConCom questions. Local engineer Rich Charon did most of the speaking as he laid out the scope of the project, storm water remediation, wildlife displacement, and construction cycle site conditions. Aidan Foley, Senior Director at Blue Wave gave a high-level overview of the company and their commitment to be good neighbors before, during and after the construction of Mattapoisett’s third solar farm project. Yet the abutters and neighbors in attendance still had questions and Chairman Peter Newton was not pleased.

While noting that his job was to enforce the wetlands protection act and various other environmental regulatory rules, Newton was also displeased to hear that trees along Interstate 195 would be removed. “Twenty acres of solar panels … that’s the introduction to our town … that’s what our town is becoming,” he stated. Charon said that yes, trees would be removed along that boundary but the entire site would not be exposed on that side.

Judy Mooney, whose property abuts the project asked, “Is this a done deal?” She continued, “That is a lot of woods you are getting rid of, it’s really close to my house … but, my issue is taking down all those trees, go to the dump, I don’t mind you going there…”

Nancy Gauvin, also an abutter, asked if there was anyone who was really going to make sure the animals were protected and if Blue Wave would be building on the other side of the utility power lines as well. Foley said that they are looking at other suitable locations in Mattapoisett and throughout the area for more solar farm developments.

Tom Hanks, another Crystal Springs resident, asked, “Are we being preyed on because we don’t have any protection?” Chairman Newton responded, “If I was in business, I’d go wherever it’s easiest.” Andy Bobola, Director of Inspectional Services, said that the Planning Board is reviewing by-laws and suggested approaching them on developing by-laws for this type of business activity.

Several residents spoke up about the issue of water. Storm water runoff due to deforestation was questioned. Charon said that the same amount of water would fall, but how it was recharged into the ground or the speed of the flow were issues.

It was noted that given that the site borders wetlands on two sides, there are numerous issues for ConCom to consider – more than a part-time department could handle. It was decided that Blue Wave would fund outside peer review so that issues of wetlands, wildlife and storm water management could be professionally evaluated. The application was continued until April 28 to give the town and Blue Wave more time to gather environmental details.

Also coming before the commission was John Marvin, 14 Mechanic Street, with a request for determination of applicability to build an addition to the existing home. Represented by Jon Connell of Field Engineering, the commission heard that the construction will follow all FEMA guidelines for flood considerations. Marvin’s application was approved.

The Town of Mattapoisett also came before the commission for three road resurfacing projects, each with slightly different issues. Bayberry Lane, Ash Terrace, Acorn Lane, and Hemlock Lane, a cul-da-sac development off North Street, need resurfacing and some storm water management to control erosion. Shady Oak Drive, across North Street from Bayberry needs resurfacing and the cul-da-sac needs extensive renovations. Finally, Eldorado Drive also requires resurfacing. The projects were approved with standard conditions.

Richard Wells of 10 Woodland Avenue filed a notice of intent for the construction of a garage addition to the existing home located in a coastal flood plain and buffer zone. Charon Engineering represented the applicant. He told the commission the garage will be built with break-away partitions in compliance with FEMA requirements. The application was approved.

Stephany Hiller and Dan Wierich, 74 Aucoot Road, also came before the commission with a notice of intent to tear down the existing structure and build a new four-bedroom house with a garage, deck, and gravel driveway. The home will be built on stilts and have break-away panels. They have to go to the Board of Health and will be required to install a Title 5 compliant septic system. Their project was approved.

David Davignon of Schneider Engineering represented Jay Duker, 112 Aucoot Road, coming before the commission for continuation of their notice of intent to present updated plans which now include erosion control details, the installation of underground propane tanks, plantings along the wetlands delineation and that they have received a permit from the Board of Health. Satisfying all the questions the commission presented, the project was approved with standard orders of conditions.

Davignon then represented Daniel Oliver of 40 Water Street with a second round of amended order of conditions for the building of a pier. The project is now considerably downsized since DEP has extended eel grass beds in the same space. ConCom approved the new plans.

The last hearing of the evening was for the application filed by Mr. and Mrs. James Barron of 36 Water Street. They were petitioning for underground utilities, a balcony, and the building of a new garage. Abutters were concerned with storm water management, especially near the church. Ray Andrews of 49 Water Street said that he and his brother were both alarmed that a garage would be allowed on the lot but he was reminded by Newton that the commission was only concerned with wetland-related issues and not zoning issues. The commission approved the project with storm water management conditions, the installation of a water tight underground utility bunker and sewers and standard conditions.

Before adjourning, Bobola asked Newton if he could take a moment to express his deep appreciation to Tammy Ferreira who has been filling in at the ConCom office and during meetings of late, making it possible for that department to carry on the business of the town without missing a beat. He also thanked Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidhold for going above and beyond the call of duty managing a great volume of work for the town and the ConCom office during this time as well. Everyone on the commission acknowledged those sentiments with sincere gratitude.

Mattapoisett’s Conservation Commission meets again on April 14 at 6:30 pm.

By Marilou Newell


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