Unpermitted Septic System Causes Ire

Tempers flared at Monday night’s Conservation Commission meeting in Mattapoisett, as the Commissioners expressed their dissatisfaction with the apparent completion of a septic system repair project that was not permitted.

Contractor Nathaniel Gomes began the work after receiving approval for the project from Dale Barrows at the Board of Health.  Gomes did not receive any required permits and did not realize he was in error when be started the job.

Engineer Ken Ferreira was at the meeting, representing the Estate of Blanche Perry and the property located at 41 Aucoot Road.  Ferreira said the project had been completed and presented as-built plans for the project.

Last week, the Commission ordered the work to stop so that the project could be property permitted.  A phone call to the town from a concerned abutter brought it to light that the project was going forward without permission.

“We were very explicit last week in ordering that work stop,” said Newton.  The project was underway without confirmation from the Commissioners that it satisfied the terms of the Wetlands Protection Act.

Ferreira endorsed the past work of Nathanial Gomes, the contractor in charge of the project, saying that he was a third generation contractor who learned his craft from his father.

Gomes himself has the most money invested in the property.

It was unclear who had pushed Gomes to finish the project so as to meet the impending closing on the property, which is scheduled for Thursday, December 13.

Conservation agent Elizabeth Leidhold said that there were miscommunications between the town, realtor, and construction team.

“They were told to stop and I was given indication that they were going to stop,” said Commission secretary Teresa Austin.  “Mr. Gomes absolutely understood he was not to do anything else.  Why he continued, I don’t know.”

“This isn’t how you do it, by just ignoring the process,” he said.  “They basically just completely thumbed their nose at us.  Why is there Commission if people are just going to do what they want?”

Newton said that fault could not be placed only on Gomes because there were numerous individuals involved in the project that were in the know of the process.

Gomes was not present for the hearing, per the recommendation of Ferreira, but toward the end of the meeting, Gomes appeared to speak informally to the Commission.

“I started the job but I wasn’t supposed to.  I didn’t know all the paperwork wasn’t complete,” Gomes said.  He also clarified that Ferreira was incorrect in stating that the job had not been completed but Gomes said he had filled the hole as a safety precaution.

“I wanted to apologize for all of this.  I made a mistake and this was a hard lesson to learn,” he said.

Ken Dawicki of the Conservation Commission then suggested a new course of action to try to fix the problem.

“It would be my suggestion to the board to issue a ruling whether or not this would require a Notice of Intent,” said Dawicki.

Dawicki suggested the Commission vote to require them to file a Notice of Intent, indicating that it is not meant to punish anyone involved but rather rectify the illegality of the project’s completion.

The Commission issued a positive determination that requires Gomes to file a Notice of Intent for the project.  As a result, the scheduled closing on the property will not happen as planned.

“If they had stopped when we asked them to stop, we’d be fine moving forward with the RDA, but they didn’t,” Newton said.

In other business, a hearing for a Notice of Intent filed by Karen and Mark Julien was held.  The applicants propose to renovate and construct additions to their home on 30 Ocean Drive.

Engineer Doug Schneider was on hand representing the Julien family.

“They are looking to do a couple minor renovations to the house that involve the installation of a handicap ramp into the front door area, and also re-working a sun porch,” he said.

The Commission felt the proposal was straight-forward and had few questions or comments.  They unanimously voted in favor of the plan.

Then the Commission held a continued hearing for an RDA filed by engineer James McGrath for 38 Ocean Drive. McGrath would like to construct a utility shed on a concrete pier foundation as the request of the new property owners.

The Commission was amenable to the project at a previous meeting, but McGrath had not produced the abutter notices at that time.  They then voted in favor of the project.

Then the Conservation Commission held a continued hearing for David Nicolosi, regarding his NOI to build a wetland and intermittent stream crossing for land off Fairhaven Road.  Nicolosi plans to build an eight-home subdivision in the area that would require an expansion of the roadway.

Each house lot will be roughly four acres, with some homes sharing a common driveway.  Other homes will have individual driveways on their lots.

“About 12 acres are uplands, the balance of it are wetlands,” said Nicolosi.  The wetland area, located near the center of the property, will benefit from a conservation restriction, prohibiting development.

“We’re working to determine nesting conditions around the drainage basin area,” he said.

Most of the work will fall outside the 100-foot buffer zone.

Commissioner Bob Rogers said he was appreciative of Nicolosi bringing the project before Conservation and the Planning Board at the same time so the decisions from both bodies would be copasetic.

“I don’t think you can separate the driveway and the house construction from our jurisdiction because that decides the location of the retention basin,” Rogers said.

Nicolosi is awaiting the results from a peer review ordered by the Planning Board.

The Commission then voted to grant Nicolosi a continuance, pending the results of the peer review.

The Commission held a public hearing for Robert Field of 8 Whaler’s Way.  Field had filed a Request for Determination of Applicability in order to install a crushed stone pad that would be located within 100 feet of a vegetated wetland.

“The project is to scrape off some loam in my yard and put down a crushed stone pad to store aquaculture equipment in the off-season,” said Field, who represented himself at the meeting.

“The only other thing I wanted to bring before the Commission was that, during Sandy, a tree just inside the wetland line, fell,” he said, adding that he had begun to cut away at the tree but wanted to eventually remove the stump.

“Are you going to remove the loam from site or distribute it?” asked Dawicki.

Field said that he would stock pile it on his property and use it to fill holes and level other areas of his property.

Chairman Peter Newton was concerned that the loam could wash out into the resource during a heavy rain event and asked Field to keep that in mind when the project got underway.

The Commission then voted to issue their determination with no special conditions.

A continued hearing scheduled for William and Sophia Macropoulos of 12 Howard Beach was continued to the meeting on January 14, per request of the applicant.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission will be on January 14, 2013, at 6:30 pm at the Town Hall.

By Eric Tripoli

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