On August 27, the residents and property owners of Foster Street lobbied the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission one more time to halt plans for the paving of Foster Street, a portion of which is private property.
The issue of who owns the roadway was debated during the July 9 Notice of Intent hearing filed by John and Roger Gibbons that resulted in a continuation until the August 27 meeting. During that July hearing, Kevin and Laura McLean, represented by Attorney Robert Feingold, made the case that the Gibbonses did not own the 675-foot unpaved portion of Foster Street, and that deeds held by abutters demonstrated their ownership rights.
At that time, Chairman Mike King, in agreement with Attorney Peter Paul representing the Gibbonses, moved to continue the hearing until town counsel could review the application and the assertions brought forward by the McLeans, et al.
And now, during the August 27 continuation, King stated that town counsel Matthew Thomas had, in fact, affirmed the Gibbonses’ right to proceed. He said Thomas had spoken to Feingold and Paul, and that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the roadway was not located within an endangered species habitat or a flood zone.
On the matter of stormwater management, the applicants’ engineer, Alan Ewing, said there was a culvert along the roadway and that, although its exact location and effectiveness was in question, those issues would be addressed during construction.
“I’m comfortable with the plan,” said King. “I want to affirm that the DEP, highway superintendent, and other public safety departments are all in favor of asphalt to protect natural resources.” He said the abutters could appeal the commission’s decision, but alluded to that being unproductive given a DEP file number had already been secured for the project.
Laura McLean rose to speak, saying, “This sounds like it’s a lost cause,” but asked to read aloud a letter drafted by her husband who could not be present at the hearing.
The strongly worded letter reads in part: “To be clear, the land is individually owned, not communally, the deeds are clear, and we collectively do not wish our land to be blacktopped.”
McLean also wrote that, last summer, the Gibbonses started the roadway project, but were halted when neighbors protested and law enforcement was called to the scene. McLean also asked that King recuse himself from the hearing, alleging a professional involvement in an asphalt company.
After reading her husband’s letter, McLean repeated previous comments that asphalt contained chemicals and other hazardous materials that would leach into wetlands, and she refuted King’s statements that blacktop was the best choice for roadways near wetlands adding, “Would you put asphalt in your fish tank?”
King responded, “For the record I do not own any asphalt company, I simply work as a … health and safety consultant.”
Karen Fields, a member of the Mattapoisett Planning Board, questioned why the commission would allow the application of asphalt to Foster Street when it favorably allowed a driveway project planned for Snow Field Roads to be gravel. King said that the two projects were not the same, pointing to the fact that Foster Street was an altered area, whereas the project at Snow Field Road was virgin territory.
“It’s not that [the Conservation Commission is] in favor of the project,” said King. “We have no standing to deny it. … All we can do is condition it.”
Paul said the Gibbonses were willing to install speed bumps along the roadway, and they had no intention of extending Foster Street to Route 6. He also said his clients were not intending to ask the Town to take over ownership of the piece of Foster Street they owned.
“I get it,” King said to the abutters. “No one likes change, but you can make it the best project for all concerned.”
The hearing was continued until September 10 at which time the applicants are to return with a new plan of record.
In other business, the commission gave negative determinations of applicability to Richard Pease, 228 North Street, for the construction of a three-season room; Karen Keenan, 63 Mattapoisett Neck Road, for a second-floor living space over an existing first-floor porch; Tucker, Aufranc, Peter and Nancy Anas, and Ross Petersen for lots along Holly Woods Road for the purpose of clearing out deadwood and the removal of dying trees in a former Christmas tree farm; Lawrence Jarvis, 5 Euclid Avenue, for tree cutting; the YMCA, Reservation Road, to rebuild the infield and relocate the backstop of the ball field.
A Notice of Intent filing by Todd Withers, 12 Oliver Street, was conditioned for the construction of a sunroom addition.
Certificates of Compliance were issued to Michael Solimando for new homes constructed on Appaloosa Lane.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 10 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell