Barrier Beach Construction Violates Conditions

An Order of Conditions issued to William and Kathleen Sylvia for work involving a barrier beach at their 41 Cove Street home was reviewed and debated to determine whether the Sylvias had violated the accepted plan of record and Order of Conditions. The case was heard for more than an hour.

            After receiving complaints from neighbors in the beach community, the commission invited the Sylvias to the meeting to try to figure out why construction methods written by their engineer Rick Charon and agreed to by the applicants had not been followed.

            The main points of contention from the commission’s point of view were that protective matting had not been used at the site to protect beach vegetation and sand movement, that heavy equipment had been used to excavate the site primarily to remove existing structural supports and that the property owner failed to contact the commission’s agent for a site inspection of erosion controls.

            Conservation Commission Chairman Mike King, who attended remotely with member Trevor Francis standing in at the Town Hall, stated that William Sylvia “overreached” by using excavating equipment to remove the support I-beams. “Those beams were supposed to be cut flush, not dug out,” said King, whose concern was based on the disturbance of the soil. The compaction, he said, destabilized the site, something he believed put the entire barrier beach at jeopardy due to erosion.

            King voiced strong concern that the construction narrative written by Charon had been ignored and that an After-the-fact Notice of Intent now needed to be filed by Sylvia and an Enforcement Order issued.

            Sylvia responded, “For two years, we’ve done everything, but the beams were stuck.” He said that hydrostatic pressure constricted them from being pulled out. “We had to dig them out!” he said. With obvious frustration, Sylvia said that the Order of Conditions did not specify that the beams be flush cut but that they were simply “to be removed.” Deep into the discussion, Francis would concede that the language in the Order of Conditions probably should have been more detailed and direct.

            Sylvia said that he and his wife want to complete this project. “This is our home. Right now, we don’t have a home,” he said, representing the dismayed couple.

            King said that hours of public hearings that respected state law had been poured into the project and that for now, all work should stop until an After-the-Fact NOI is filed. But discussion kept circling back to the lack of a directive that required cutting the beams flush. The commissioners wondered aloud if reviewing meeting notes and videos would shed light on that issue.

            The commissioners requested that Sylvia apply for the NOI, hire an independent engineer who would report to the town and follow all conditions as written or return to the commission for consideration of modifications.

            King told Sylvia that regulations from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for this project must be followed. “This isn’t us, it’s the state,” said King. State regulations, he explained, take coastal resiliency into consideration especially in projects of this sort. King asked that the Sylvias engage an independent engineer to oversee the balance of the work jurisdictional to the commission.

            King said he would like Brandon Faneuf, the town’s contract agent, to represent the town in this matter. He said that Town Counsel had confirmed previously that Faneuf’s private work would not conflict with his contract work for the town. Sylvia said he was comfortable working with Faneuf.

            An NOI filed by Jeffrey Dover and Tania Phillips, 3 Pigwacket Lane, was continued to August 22 to give the applicant’s engineer, David Davignon of Schneider, Davignon, and Leone Inc., time to review regulations for the numerous resource areas that exist on the site. Plans include demolition of an existing home and construction of a new residence.

            An Order of Conditions was granted to David Halle, 23 Grand View Avenue, for the construction of a detached garage and impervious patio area.

            The issuance of Cease and Desist Order for unpermitted beach alterations at 5-7 Shore View Avenue was ordered by consensus of commissioners.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is planned for Monday, August 22, at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commissions

By Marilou Newell

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