The Rochester Conservation Commission met May 19 to discuss a year-long issue with Dustin and Travis Lalli, the owners of a property under an Enforcement Order since March.
The Lallis were invited to the May 19 meeting to discuss two letters of complaint about their property, the first in May of 2014 and the second in April of this year. Through email correspondence, the Lallis replied to Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon saying they were unable to attend.
The commission discussed the next steps to be taken in the dispute and decided to authorize Farinon to send a letter to the Lallis, which would advise that if the requested information was not supplied by June 16, ConCom would approach town counsel about legal action.
“We typically do not go this route,” Farinon said after the meeting. “We don’t like to issue Enforcement Orders.”
The dispute began following an unsigned complaint to the commission in May 2014. The letter alleged that the owners of the property had cut down trees and dug ditches in violation of Town bylaws.
A visit to the site verified these claims, and the commission sent a letter of violation asking the owners to provide a wetlands delineation and restoration plan to correct these issues. No such plan was ever submitted, so the commission went to the next step, issuing an Enforcement Order.
“We’ve been at this for a long time, working with them, looking at the property … giving them extensions, asking for [the plan],” Farinon said.
She explained how the process typically goes.
“If you had something on your property, we’d issue a Notice of Violation, which is just a letter that sounds important asking you to please correct it. Nine times out of 10, people do that,” she said. “[The Lallis] have been non-responsive and have not provided the requested information to the commission despite repeated requests.”
This latest letter of complaint, which was also unsigned, reports several new violations that have not yet been verified by the commission and will require further site visits. The anonymous sender alleged that he or she heard gunshots in the area and, upon further inspection, found additional tree cutting, a possible pump next to a body of water, makeshift buildings, a horse corral, fire pit, mud bogging, and a jet ski in the water.
The commission had intended to show the letter to the Lallis at the Tuesday night meeting.
Other actions taken at the meeting include a request for approval by Rochester resident Rebecca Davenport. Davenport submitted changes to a property plan. The commission reviewed the changes, found that they did not constitute major revisions, and approved them.
The commission also discussed the Open Space Plan, which is currently in development. The commission plans to submit a survey to the residents of Rochester to get their opinions on what changes or lack thereof they would like to see in the plan.
Additionally, the commission reviewed an application to the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program for a grant of $8,500 dollars to survey land as part of the Haskell Woods Land Preservation Project. The survey would look at possible access routes to the area so that the Land Trust could decide where and how much land they should buy.
The commission extended a thank you to Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School senior Amy Hill for taking the lead on a digital revision of the Town’s Explore Rochester trail maps. The commission would also like to thank her teacher, Kathy Peterson of the Graphic Communication and Design program.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for June 2 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
By Andrew Roiter