Chairman Shrugs off Wetlands Violation

What is done is done. At least from where the Marion Conservation Commission sits, even though Richard Costa of 237 River Road will still have to file with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for the raised platform he constructed right on the bank of the Sippican River.

The wetlands resource area where the raised deck visually abuts the wetlands line, as seen in some photographs showing where Costa built the illegal deck, is an area protected under the Wetlands Protection Act. When any work within 100 feet of a wetland is required, a Notice of Intent or Request for Determination Application must be filed in advance; however, Costa failed to apply for the NOI before building the deck.

On July 23, Costa sat down with the ConCom at the conference room meeting table to discuss his after-the-fact filing of a NOI for the deck.

Chairman Norman Hills said some members of ConCom visited the site on Saturday, July 19. Hills passed around several color photos that “show how close to the river [the deck] is.”

The 12-foot by 8-foot wooden deck is built on four posts and encroaches the embankment of the muddy estuary floor with towering phragmites alongside.

When Hills asked Costa if he had filed with Mass DEP, he replied no. Hills said that without a number issued by the DEP, the commission could not issue the permit for the deck to Costa.

“It’s close,” said Hills shrugging his shoulders. “That’s the bottom line.” None of the commission members had any comments or questions for Costa at that time.

In his defense, Costa said that before he built the deck, he did go to the Town House to inquire about building his riverside deck. Costa specifically named someone at Town House who told him “as long as you’re above the high water mark.”

Commission member Joel Hartley commented that the destruction of any saltmarsh is a pretty serious offense, but Hills said the estuary edge where Costa built the deck was not a saltmarsh.

“I don’t think we need to do anything about changing the situation,” said Hills, after commenting a second time that he thought the deck was “You know, it’s close.”

Discussion about removing some of the phragmites near Costa’s deck ensued, with Hartley commenting that phragmites tend to “mess up your view,” reminding Costa that he needs to file an application before doing any vegetation removal at the site.

The commission asked Costa to grant them permission to continue the hearing until August 27 to wait for the DEP to issue a file number, and it was continued.

During a follow-up interview, Hills stated, “It’s not something that we’d be 100-percent happy with, but we’ll deal with it.”

When asked if the commission would have granted the permit for Costa to build his deck within the protected resource area, Hills stated, “Hard to say … Probably not.” He continued, saying the deck was probably “not within the actual wetland,” but within the buffer zone.

Also during the meeting, the commission continued the hearing for Thomas Stemberg of 114 Point Road. Stemberg addressed the commission during the July 9 meeting and the hearing was continued until July 23. Hills said he had not received any formal request to continue the hearing another time, but with no one present to represent Stemberg, the commission approved another continuance. Stemberg filed a NOI to demolish the existing structures on the lot and construct a single-family dwelling, a pool, a pool house, a tennis court, a driveway, and walkways.

The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission is August 13 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

By Jean Perry


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