Bike Path Design Modifications Please Neighbors

            Coming before the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission on April 22 were representatives from CLE Engineering, Susan Nilson and Jeremy Packard, with a request to amend an Order of Conditions filed by the Town of Mattapoisett for the construction of Phase 1b of the pedestrian path, aka, the bike path.

                        During the long design phases which were monitored and directed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) as well as being primarily funded by same, one of the specification requirements was for the construction of an anchored sheet pile retaining wall along Goodspeed Island Road that would have run for 650-linear feet along the coastal bank. Further discussions with the engineering team from MassDOT found a solution vastly more appealing to the property owners whose view from their residences would have been a solid black metal retaining wall.

                        Nilson explained that MassDOT ultimately accepted the construction of a fence that would not only be visually less assaultive, but would provide protection to those using the path along Goodspeed Island Road.

                        The requested modifications would also allow for the construction of a gravel roadway versus a paved roadway. The changes were as follows: separation of vehicles and path users from a 4.8-foot wide paved median to 5-foot wide gravel median and a combined 14-foot paved width acting as a shared roadway for both path users and vehicles.

                        The fencing modification now means that the area will have a regulation guardrail nestled behind a wooden fence, making it less obtrusive. Abutters who were in attendance voiced their collective relief that they would no longer be confronted with a black steel wall.

                        There was discussion regarding the possibility of additional plantings along the coastal bank in those areas that will be disturbed by the fence installation, but Nilson said those ideas were premature and not part of the contractor’s estimate. Future plantings were not totally out of the question, however, she conjured.

                        The request was approved with Chairman Mike King saying the commission was pleased with the modifications.

                        The commission was not in lockstep, however, when it came to the proposed fee schedule they had been tasked with developing.

                        The Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and Town Administrator Michael Gagne have asked town departments that provide services to property owners to look at established fee structures for possible increases, or where no fee currently exists to come up with a plan for offsetting operating costs.

                        Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidlhold studied fee schedules from surrounding towns and provided the commission with a proposal. She said, in doing so, she found that fees would still fall short of covering the secretary’s salary. She estimated that if fees had been in place for FY19, they would have contributed only about $14,000, far short of the $49,000 spent on one employee’s salary.

                        Immediately, Commissioner Chapman Dickerson expressed dissent. When asked to review the draft fee schedule and make recommendations he said, “We have too many fees in town already.” He suggested that if fees were imposed on permits where currently there aren’t any, people would be “asking for forgiveness” versus applying for permission. “If we are raising fees or getting rid of conservation … get rid of conservation!”

                        King explained, “We have a responsibility to offset the cost of operating; otherwise, it has to come out of the general fund.” 

                        The proposed fees include site inspection reports, $50; Requests for Determination of Applicability, $50 on existing-single family homes and $100 for all other requests other than wetland delineation confirmation (as well as the $100 wetlands fee shared with the state); wetland delineation confirmation of single-family house lots, $75 and $150 for commercial/subdivision; Notice of Intent would have five categories, depending on the complexity of the filing, ranging from category 1 at $100 to category 5 at $400; requests for extensions to Orders of Conditions, residential $75 and commercial/subdivision $200; Certificates of Compliance, residential $75 and commercial/subdivision $200; requests for Amendments to Orders of Conditions, residential $75 and commercial/subdivision $200.

                        The proposed passed with Dickerson voting “nay.”

                        In other business, the commission approved an enforcement order against 56 North Land Trust. Previously, the commission had been alerted to work taking place in wetlands at property located at 12 North Street. King read a letter from the trust acknowledging the enforcement order, stating that it was working with Prime Engineering to bring the work into compliance.

                        Leidhold also said that, regarding Brandt Point Village and observations there, trash was thickly accumulating across undeveloped portions of the subdivision and that turtle tunnels were incomplete. She had been in contact with Al Loomis of McKenzie Engineering. She said that he planned on conveying the commission’s concerns to the developer, Marc Marcus of Omega Financial. 

                        Requests for Determination of Applicability filings receiving Negative determinations were issued to Jeffrey Hayward, 18 Nashawena Road, for a deck extension; Mary Flaherty, 4 Woodland Avenue, for a shed replacement; and Derek Tavares, 3 Nantucket Drive, for fencing and the installation of an above-ground pool.

                        An Amended Order of Conditions was issued to Daniel Eilertsen, 20 Water Street, for the installation of pilings along an existing pier and beach nourishment.

                        The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for May 15 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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