Aucoot Road Project Gets Green Light

            A Notice of Intent hearing first opened in early April and receiving considerable neighborhood pushback was reopened during the April 27 meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission. After neighbors again voiced their concerns, the commission voted unanimously to issue an Order of Conditions for the project.

            David Davignon of Schneider, Davignon, & Leone, Inc., representing property owner Robert Malm, Aucoot Road, revisited the scope of the project and slight site plan modifications made after the last meeting. An on-site inspection of wetland flagging done by Brandon Fanuef of Ecosystem Solutions, Inc. had been completed by the conservation agent and commission member David Lawrence, he said.

            Chairman Mike King said that the commission had reviewed all comments made at the previous hearing by the abutters that had resulted in additional details being put on the plan of record. Then the floor was opened to the public.

            Both Jonathan and Julie Craig spoke for their allotted three-minute period, pointing out inconsistencies between the USGS mapping and Google Earth. The Craigs also questioned the time of the year when perc testing had been done and if it was acceptable to be done during drought conditions. King said that drought is not factored into test flow results, and that Mattapoisett’s Board of Health regulations are stricter than those outlined by the state. Craig asked for the septic to be relocated from its currently proposed location on the southern end of the property to the northern end of the property, a move Malm was unwilling to consider.

            Abutter Jeff Humphrey, speaking for himself and other family members with lots abutting the site, asked who determines the definition of uplands. Davignon responded that Fanuef had made those classifications and that only his client’s property had been examined. Humphrey then said that wetland lines seemed to be in dispute and asked about the process to come to a consensus. King responded that Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold reviewed wetland flagging on site and that several flags were moved as a result. He said the agent also studied the soils.

            Humphrey asked for an explanation of the “process for approving or disapproving this permit.” He wondered how all the abutters opposing the project was not relevant. King responded that it is the responsibility of the commission to follow the Wetlands Protection Act. King said, in many cases, abutters may be opposed to a project, but their opposition alone cannot impede a property owner.

            King also told the abutters in the virtual meeting room that those opposed to the project can appeal the commission’s decision to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. He said the DEP can assert a superseding order of conditions but cautioned that such action does not mean the abutters’ opposition would be upheld. King believes it is far better for a local commission to control a project than the state agency. “We always try to foster good communication between all parties.… [Failing that], if you or the other abutters are aggrieved, you can appeal.”

            Humphrey then asked if the hearing could be continued for another two weeks in light of what he called “new information,” an abutter’s right to appeal to the DEP. “I thought the permit would be denied if everyone wanted it stopped,” he stated. Davignon declined to accept another two-week continuance.

            Brad Hathaway, another abutter opposed to the project, asked if new information would be considered in the case of an appeal. “This is 120 acres of core wetlands,” said Hathaway, elaborating on the significance of historic runoff issues from the site’s neighborhood all the way to Route 6. King responded that the project would not increase the flow of stormwater.

            In response to the Craigs’ concern over conflicting information regarding the wetlands line, King asked Davignon to calculate the discrepancy between USGS mapping and Google Earth. Davignon reported the calculations as a difference of 76 feet in one instance and 80 feet in another.

            King then polled the commissioners, asking each if they wanted more time and information or if they were ready to decide on an Order of Conditions. They unanimously voted to accept the project as presented.

            In other business, an Order of Conditions was issued to Barry Sturgis, 34 Meadowbrook Lane. Also conditioned were Conrad and Janice Roy’s Notice of Intent filing for the construction of a new home after a fire last year consumed their existing residence, and an NOI at 99 County Road, owned by Barbara White, for the construction of a new residence.

            NOIs filed by Ralph Contellesso and Stephen Napolitano for properties located side by side on Brandt Island Road for two new residences were continued until May 12.

            Requests for Determination of Applicability receiving negative determinations were Derek Silvia, 17 Pine Road, for deck improvements; Mark Bobseine, 2 Port Way, for deck improvements; Goodspeed, LLC, 1 Brandt Island Shores, for the construction of a utility shed; and Howard Chadwick, 9 Fairfield Avenue, for septic repair.

            At the end of the meeting, King asked the commissioners to consider giving Lawrence authority to conduct on-site visits for such things as flagging boundaries, given that Leidhold is scheduled to retire in July. He also said that Marion and Mattapoisett officials are considering the hiring of a single agent to be shared by the two towns, an idea that was met with positive responses. For his part, Lawrence said, “I’m not a paperwork person,” but agreed to assist the commission.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for May 12 at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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