Abutters Unsatisfied with Engineer’s Responses

            During many previous Conservation Commission meetings, abutters have taken the commission and an engineer to task, requesting more in-depth study of drainage issues on a lot located at 7 Nashawena Road owned by Alexander Bauer.

            The latest iteration of Bauer’s plans, presented on September 27, calls for the reconstruction of an existing structure. The advertised posting of the project also states that drainage will be directed towards a low point on the lot. This has been the biggest sticking point for not only Bauer but his engineering representative, Douglas Schneider of Schneider, Davignon, and Leone, Inc.

            Schneider’s last presentation of the project included a detailed description of an in-ground infiltration system that would direct stormwater into underground basins designed to allow captured water to recharge below grade. He also had pointed out that roof runoff would be directed below grade and that the overall drainage system would greatly improve flooding issues on the lot. He did not, however, include resolution of historic drainage issues along Nashawena Road, a problem raised by abutters concerned that Bauer’s project would make matters worse for the neighborhood.

            During the September 13 meeting, abutters lobbied long and hard to be given an additional two weeks to review the new plan of record, a point ultimately conceded by Schneider in an effort to avoid an appeal of the commission’s decision. For its part, the commission believed the applicant had satisfied all wetlands-related issues and was at that time ready to close the hearing and condition the project. Instead, a two-week continuance was requested by Schneider.

            The additional time has not moved abutters David Behenne or William Straus to view the proposed project more favorably.

            Present at the Town Hall meeting room, Behenne submitted a letter to the commission that was not read aloud. But after reading it, Chairman Mike King said the letter echoed previously articulated concerns about groundwater runoff. Behenne insisted that soils in the area be tested for drainage capabilities, a procedure King said was only necessary for septic systems, not groundwater issues.

            But the biggest bone of contention on this night was raised by abutter Straus who asserted that Bauer has no ownership right to the private roadway. This prompted Schneider to say, “So, Mr. Bauer can’t get to his lot then.”

            Straus said that he had brought up ownership issues with the roadway as far back as March 2021 but that the engineer had never adequately sought legal advice. Schneider said that in his 30 years of working in the Antassawamock beach community ownership of the roads therein had never been an issue. “It’s just a driveway entrance. My client owns to the center line; there are no association rights of ownership.”

            Straus became somewhat frustrated by the sound of his voice, having entered the meeting via remote access. He said, “It’s a 50-by-70 [foot] lot as many are in the area.” But of the right to enter the property from a new driveway, Straus said, “It’s a legal opinion.… The engineer should not be practicing law; it’s a legal issue, not an engineering issue.”

            King entered the debate, telling Straus, “You’ve provided no evidence that supports your position [that the association has ownership rights to the roadways].” Straus shot back, “I brought this up last March. … I don’t have a burden of providing evidence, I am not to blame here. The engineer neglected to provide the information. A driveway exists now.”

            Straus also questioned the need to remove a swath of vegetation. King said, “Mr. Straus has asserted ownership to the association and individual residents.” Straus continued: “Title and easement issues are owned by the residents and the association; the engineer decided not to pursue.”

            “We’ve exhausted all avenues; the design has addressed all concerns. Let it play out in Land Court. Either there is a document at the registry or there isn’t,” King said before the commission closed the public hearing and then unanimously voted to approve and condition the project.

            Randall Lane Solar, LLC, represented by Eric Las of Beals and Thomas, Inc., came before the commission to give an update on items requested in early meetings relative to its proposed solar project. One such item was a complete survey of the riverfront area within and nearby the proposed solar field. Las explained that the survey prompted the designers to scale back the array field somewhat to keep it out of resource areas. It was also noted by Las that Site Plan Review was ongoing with the Planning Board and that an application to the ZBA was also pending. The hearing was continued until October 18.

            Also continued until October 18 was a Notice of Intent filed by the Town of Mattapoisett for a new sidewalk on the eastern side of Mattapoisett Neck Road from Route 6 to the intersection of the bike path. “It is a necessity and a long-overdue public-safety improvement,” King said of the plan.

            In response to several abutters who expressed concerns over drainage and possible rock-excavation activities, Town Administrator Mike Lorenco said, “Money for this project is tight,” therefore any planned construction would be executed with that in mind.

            Lorenco invited the public to contact his office with any concerns before, during, and after completion of the project. He said that concerns expressed over speeding on the heavily used roadway are being studied. Lorenco also assured the public that this project is to be funded in total by grants.

            A Request for Determination of Applicability filed by William Clapp for property located on lots 39 and 42 off Mattapoisett Neck Road for mowing near a barrier beach and dune area received a Negative 3 determination. Also receiving a negative determination was an RDA filed by Timothy Eilertsen, 28 Sagamore Road, for the underground placement of a gas tank and porch footings.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Monday, October 18, at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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