Tense Moments at ConCom Meeting

The May 14 agenda of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission could have borne the title of ‘Water, Water Everywhere’ as several items the commission heard during the course of the meeting dealt with too much water in all the wrong places.

The two cases causing the most controversy were drainage issues at Appaloosa Lane and at Brandt Point Village. Developers or their representatives were asked to attend the meeting to address specific ConCom issues.

Brian Grady of GAF Engineering was on hand to answer questions regarding expansion of drainage basins associated with the housing development on Appaloosa Lane. Residents along River Road came out to complain that since the developer has resumed work on engineered drainage basins, water has been flowing into their yards. Also referred to as retention ponds, these water collectors were designed to be ‘dry.’ However, with a high water table and wet weather conditions, they have been full and overflowing. As the construction team attempted to move water from one basin to the other, it was discovered that the soil content is mostly clay, causing Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold to wonder aloud if they would ever be able to sufficiently re-charge water back into the ground. Highway Superintendent Barry Denham shared those concerns from his own observation of the soil.

It was also brought to the commission’s attention that a vast amount of soil material had been dug out and piled high at the site rather than being removed from the area. Denham said, “I didn’t receive any notification that work would be taking place there … they have removed a significant amount of material (but) I don’t know why it wasn’t removed off site … I question if it’s (drainage basins) going to be able to handle storm water … they were supposed to be dry basins.” Nearly at a whisper he commented, “How can they install a septic system when the water is so close to ground level?” Commission member Bob Rogers replied, “Well, that’s not for us to determine.”

Patricia Apperson, a River Road resident, said that pumps and hoses were being used that very day to suck water out of one of the basins. However, the hoses were placed in such a manner that the water purposefully flowed into her yard. She said that every time someone new purchased the land, new and greater water problems were created and yet it seemed that developers were being given increasingly easier permissions. Brian Cook of 11 River Road stated he now had water in his basement for the first time.

Chairman Peter Newton said that the first step had to be to allow the developer to complete the drainage work as engineered and then to see where things stood. This did not appease the neighbors whose frustrations were very evident.

Grady will visit the site and continue to work with the contractor on ways to eliminate some of the drainage problems and report back to the commission.

The Brandt Point Village cluster housing project received equal, if not greater, outrage from residents in that area. Coming before the commission was Curtis Mello, one of the development trust partners. The commission wished to discuss the long-overdue wetlands remediation area. But it was drainage issues on the minds of abutters. A naturally flowing historic brook had been planned to accept storm water re-charged into the surrounding area. Denham again spoke and said that three drainage easements on Gary Lane adjacent to the site ran into the brook already, but that the brook was not part of any easement and, therefore, he couldn’t clean it out to help it flow better. He questioned if the brook would be viable to handle more.

Denham said that when angry residents call him for help with drainage issues, he is faced with housing developments where “developers don’t seem to follow their plans.”

The developers of Brandt Point Village are seeking to amend plans through the Planning Board on May 19 at 7:00 pm at Center School. The commission voted to send a letter to the Planning Board asking them to review ConCom’s mandate for completion of the 3500-square foot wetlands remediation during that hearing.

But vocal opponent to the proposed changes at this site, Paul Osenkowski, felt not enough was being done by the commission to protect this vulnerable area. He asked, “Why can’t we stop it now! They haven’t followed the rules for five years and now we’re supposed to change the rules in the middle of the game?” Rick Coty of Gary Lane said, “The area is a mess.”

Earlier in the evening, a certificate of compliance was issued for 7 Nantucket Drive at this development, with Bob Rogers noting that new homeowners shouldn’t be penalized because the developer has failed to complete wetland remediation.

To the chagrin of Osenkowski and residents of Gary Lane, members of the commission – including Mike King, Bob Rogers and Chairman Newton – all asserted that the best way to make things right at this location were efforts to work with the developer, not to penalize him. King said that the present owner “had inherited a problem he is trying to fix.”

On a lighter note in the agenda, Evan Roznoy, a local Boy Scout, came before the commission with his plan to build handicap ramps at the restrooms located on Ned’s Point. This will be his Eagle Scout project. After explaining to Roznoy why it was necessary for his project to receive ConCom approval, Chairman Newton thanked Roznoy as they voted in the affirmative. Those in attendance echoed their approval via applause.

Mark Julien of 30 Ocean Drive received a negative two approval for replacing an existing gravel driveway with asphalt to install a half-court basketball play area.

Richard Charon, representing Blue Wave LLC, came before the commission with an update on the proposed Crystal Spring commercial solar field. After further research, some minor changes were made to the site plan and he reaffirmed that flooding in the area was caused by poor drainage along the roadway.

Alan Decker of the Buzzards Bay Coalition came before ConCom for them to sign documents pursuant to land that will come under protective purview. With land grant funds in the amount of $300,000 available for only a few more weeks, the commission moved forward as required. The 27-acre site that the town voted to accept during last Fall’s town meeting will now be conveyed into protection.

ConCom members Marylou Kelliher and Mike King volunteered to be part of the Soil Conservation Board. The Board of Selectmen will need to approve their assignment.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for May 28 at 6:30 pm in town hall.

By Marilou Newell


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