On the agenda for the April 7 meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board was Attorney John Williams, representing Brandt Island Realty Trust, regarding a requested amendment to the special residential development permit for ‘Brandt Point Village.’ As Williams had explained during the last meeting of the board and again on this evening, the market for three-bedroom homes versus two-bedroom homes was stronger. Therefore, the developer is seeking to amend their plans to increase the number of three-bedroom single-family homes that in turn would increase the total number of bedrooms in this cluster housing development. At the earlier meeting, Williams described in detail the high-tech septic system now planned for the project. With this system, he felt the increased number of bedrooms would be handled by a system that could handle 15,000 gallons of water treatment per day versus the older style system that could only handle 10,000. Noting that the developer, and not the town, had put limitations on the bedroom count, Williams now urged the board to make the amendment so that the DEP could then be engaged for review of the updated septic plan. However, the board members were not easily moved to do so.
Board member Karen Fields questioned the increased traffic volume more people in the development would bring. Member John Mathieu referenced a traffic study for the proposed project from six years earlier. The study didn’t differentiate the number of bedrooms in each home; it just recognized that the total number of homes was set at 41 units. Fields said that since the plan was changing, the impact on the neighborhood would also change, which would require due diligence in the form of a new public hearing. Williams felt that the board was taking an approach that limited growth in the town and went so far as to say that Mattapoisett was a “dying community.”
When Chairman Tom Tucker opened questions up to the public, Paul Osenkowski, a resident in the beach community, declared, “I demand a public hearing!” He said he was totally against this unless all the people in Brandt Island were made aware of the change and given an opportunity to voice their opinions. In a sidebar comment to this reporter, he said that the increase in wastewater, even if treated and purified, was more than the saturated beach geography could handle.
The board voted to hold a public meeting.
Also coming before the board was Brad Saunders representing the Bay Club. He said that three separate issues have arisen over time that impact the type of residential development allowed on the property. Saunders asked the board to consider: (1) Bay Club Holding desires to diversify the type of homes allowed in the development in an effort to appeal to another economic demographic. These homes would be smaller and/or duplexes (with zero lot lines and common walls); (2) Some lots are in the general business district, and they request that the board allow those spaces to be included in any open-space requirements in the future; and (3) Since the 1.5 acre parcel set aside for a water tower is still owned by the town and zoned light industry, they request that the designation be changed to allow the industrially zoned space as open space for any future development requirements for cluster housing. Chairman Tucker told Saunders that a public hearing on all of this would be required.
The other business taken up by the board was their ongoing work on by-law modifications for spring town meeting. A public hearing on the by-laws they have completed so far will take place on April 23 and April 30 at 7:00 pm in the conference room at Town Hall.
Member Ron Merlo asked the other board members to consider writing new by-laws for solar farms in light of recent developer requests for another commercial solar farm in Mattapoisett. He also read into the minutes a letter received from Peter Wolski of 4 Crystal Spring Road requesting that the board review the ‘priority protected’ status of the woodlands as part of the watershed area. Wolski further noted that in 2008, the area proposed for deforestation for the solar project contained a wellhead for public drinking water. Wolski also pointed out that government mapping in 2013 failed to show these protected areas and urged the board to review these matters. In closing, he wrote that cutting down the forest did not benefit the town.
The board decided to review the recently published solar by-laws from Marion and those from Rochester to help them develop language to present to the voters during the fall town meeting. They also plan to review and modify the text in the marine residence by-law for public review. “I think there will be a lot of discussion on the solar and marine residence by-laws,” said Tucker. He felt that they should strive to be ready for fall town meeting with those by-laws.
The Planning Board will hold public hearings on Wednesday April 23 at 7:00 pm and Wednesday April 30 at 7:00 pm at Town Hall.
By Marilou Newell