Marathon Night for ConCom – Again

After several hours of discussion, Leisure Shores remains at an impasse with the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission. Previously the applicant, Robert Ringuette, through his representatives reached a consensus on what he needed to do to bring the business into compliance. The two main areas of concern are: 1) replacement of syrofoam floats that have been fouling the wetlands for decades, and 2) clean-up of wetlands that have been negatively impacted as well as cleaning upland spaces that were used to store boats, or as parking areas or as dumping grounds.

On this night Ringuette had hoped to secure an order of conditions from the commission. But that request was not granted as the committee members felt  he was not sufficiently committed to getting environmental issues resolved sooner rather than later, specifically replacement of the problematic syrofoam floats.

Chairman Newton said that the offer to replace all syrofoam floats within five years wasn’t aggressive enough. He requested that Ringuette agree to replace at least 50% of floats by the end of two years. The floats need to be replaced using the more environmental sound encapsulated pvc or concrete style now readily available.

Ringuette’s representative Attroney Shephard Johnson told the board that he could not agree to that commitment without first discussing it with his client. Johnson said that his client felt a five year plan was, in fact, aggressive given the magnitude of the work that needed to take place and the costs. He also noted that the lack of state regulations for float materials meant there wasn’t any enforceable mechanism ConCom could use to force Ringuette to replace any floats. With the vast amount of documentation ConCom has collected that clearly indicates damage to the wetlands from the eroding floats, they disagreed with Johnson’s fine point. They also could umbrage to a proposed masterplan for overall clean up which included financial implications for Ringuette.

Earlier in the discussion Johnson had shared Ringuette’s prepared scope of work in the form of a masterplan that included business plan assumptions. These assumptions would need to transpire before Ringuette would be able to invest in the long anticipated work at hand. The board felt that such business planning did not belong in a restoration and clean-up plan. They felt he was responsible to get the work done regardless of the manner in which his business model operated. Commission member Bob Rogers said that most businesses would go to a bank and get a loan. Johnson said that at this point in time Ringuette’s financial situation was quite dire.

In attendance once again was Korrin Petersen, Senior Attorney for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, accompanied this time by Elinor Tanow, environmental attorney with the Havard Law Group. Petersen said that the coalition supported the commission’s request for a more fast-paced wetlands clean up than that offered by the applicant. She also said that monthly sweeps of the wetlands for clean up and compensation for damage that has occurred were paramount. The compensation she added could be in the form of supplemental clean up, or a supplemental environmental program to offset permanent damage that has occurred to the fragile wetlands.

Horce Field, former harbormaster spoke about his attempts several years ago to get Ringuette to replace the degrading floats. He became emotional when trying to describe how difficult that challenge had been and failing to get compliance that he knew was so important for the protection of the wetlands.

For his part, Ringuette has begun monthly clean up of surrounding wetlands using various heretofore untried methods to remove not only large pieces of syrofoam but also the tiny beads the material breaks into. Petersen was concerned that ‘vacuuming’ might only do further damage to the fragile eco-system including sucking up bird eggs and disturbing nesting areas. Clearly science hasn’t been developed to handle the massive clean up needed as she noted “no one” knew the best course of action.

“If we can get float replacement going that is what we are trying to achieve,” said Newton. But in the end all that happened was another two week extension to give Ringuette time to prepare a plan the commission might accept and to give Johnson time to try and convince his client to a shorter float replacement timeframe. What they were able to agree upon was that when Leisure Shores returns on March 24 they will return with a clean-up plan that does not include business financials. Johnson was also told that there isn’t any reason why Ringuette can’t start replacing floats immediately.

In other business at the beginning of the evening Jay and Julie Duker of 112 Aucoot Road came before the board to show their plans for a new home and swimming pool they wish to build on the property. Due to the placement of the septic system they were told they needed to review the project with the Board of Health first before the conservation commission could approve their request. They will return on March 24.

Timothy Ray of 1 Pine Wood Way received approval of his plans to replace a septic system, while Richard Warren of 7 Pico Beach Road received approval of his plan to raze the current structures on that site and build a new home.

Daniel DaRosa of 3 Goodspeed applied to the commission for an amended order of conditions so that the as built plans would include a semi-permanent kayak raking system situated in an area that has been planted with beach grasses. In previous hearings the commission had struggled with the homeowners over massive construction work including the movement of sand and stones in areas designated as ‘no touch’ spaces. Circumventing the ConCom, DaRosa eventually received DEP approval for that work. With hesitation that was very apparent from some of the commission members, the applicant’s request was approved.

And finally Blue Wave LLC’s request to amend their commercial solar farm plans presently underway on Tinkham Hill Road was explained by the commission agent, Elizabeth Leidhold. The updated plans now include a two-phase project covering a slightly larger percentage of the available acreage and a gravel roadway that is greater in width then originally proposed. The commission felt and the agent concurred that the plan changes were minor. The amended plans were approved by the commission.

The Mattapoisett Conservation Commission will meet again on March 24 at 6:30 p.m.

By Marilou Newell


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