On Wednesday, August 30, the three members of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission – Chairman Michael King and Commissioners Chapman Dickerson and Trevor Francis – handled 14 separate cases in a meeting that lasted three hours.
Due to a lack of quorum at the previously scheduled meeting, and the threat of another on Monday, August 28, the meeting was postponed until Wednesday. The town hall conference room was packed as the meeting kicked off.
The first case heard looked simple on the surface: a Request for Determination of Applicability filed by the Town of Mattapoisett for the placement of six granite boundary markers to demarcate Town property on Lot 70 Cove Street.
However, after Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering, Inc. explained the process by which the markers would be installed in the jurisdictional coastal area, Al Gentili came forward from the audience claiming that he owned the property.
Gentili said he had purchased the property from a Mrs. Deery 31 years ago and had been paying taxes on it ever since. He said that when sewer became available in the beach neighborhood, he had opted out; thus, the lot was not buildable. But he insisted he had taken care of the property, paid taxes, and was the rightful owner.
Grady said that the Town had completed a title search and there was no evidence that a sale had been made between Gentili and Deery.
Coming forward in support of Gentili was Sharon Thompson, who said she was president of the homeowners association on Angelica Point. She said that Gentili had been a resident in the community for years. She also questioned the Town’s intentions in placing the markers.
Grady said that the only thing he could think of was a parking area. Thompson responded, “We’d have a problem with that too.”
King said the issue of ownership would have to be resolved before the commission could hear the application. The case was continued until September 25.
Another application filed by the Town was a Notice of Intent for Phase 1B of the Mattapoisett bike path through easements along the former railroad route, marshland, and other jurisdictional areas involving Reservation Road, Goodspeed Island, and Depot Street.
Representing the Town was Susan Nilson of CLE Engineering. Armed with thick massive documents and pages of engineered drawings, Nilson briefly outlined the planned route as well as construction materials and methods.
King said the only responses the Conservation Commission office had received thus far were from the Massachusetts Office of Marine Fisheries requesting a narrowing of the proposed pathway. Those comments were in conflict with mandates from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Nilson pointed out. She also said that a continuation of the hearing was anticipated given the complexity of the project.
King said, “You’re looking at three farmers here,” meaning the commissioners, adding, “We’ll need 53G funds to help us,” indicating the need for peer review consultants.
The hearing was continued until September 25.
Another complicated construction project was also heard on this night, that of a proposed two-lot subdivision in wetlands abutting swamps at the end of Snowfield Road.
Representing applicant Dennis Arsenault was David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, Inc. Davignon explained that the Notice of Intent filing was for the construction of a roadway that would require the filling in of wetlands to reach buildable uplands deep within the 10-acre parcel.
Davignon said the project would require a number of waivers from the Town, including waiving the need for Town water and also the size of the roadway. He said the Planning Board with which he had already met for preliminary discussions, wanted the Conservation Commission to weigh in on the project before officially determining the viability of the roadway.
Davignon noted that the wetland crossings would require three different wetlands replication areas to offset the environmental disturbances.
The project was discussed at length and covered such matters as Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection comments, which Davignon said were considerable, the need for culverts under the roadway to allow for the movement of water, overhead versus underground utilities, and septic systems.
Abutter Pamela LaFreniere asked what the total loss of vegetated area would be. Davignon estimated 11,000 square feet. She then questioned the commission’s authority to permit a project with that volume of loss, citing 5,000 square feet as the maximum allowed under their authority. That prompted King to read from the Wetlands Protection Act, noting that a deed restriction would be in place prohibiting further disruption at a later date, therefore allowing the commission to hear the application as filed.
Gary Zine, 11 Snowfield Road, said, “The whole area is wet, even in dry periods.” He added, “It’s a jungle back there. The road will act like a dam on the north side.”
Peter LaFreniere said, “Water flows north to south, a tremendous amount of water.” He asked if water studies had been conducted on the property. Davignon said a study would be done before and after construction.
King pointed out that the culverts had already been resized to take into consideration the volume of water in the area.
LaFreniere responded, “I don’t care how big your culverts are, the road will act as a dam.”
There was then some disagreement between King and the abutters as to whether or not a similar project had been rejected in the past. King said, “It’s the first time in front of us…. Things change.” The hearing was continued until September 11.
Other matters before the commission were: the conditioning of a Notice of Intent filed by Jessica Nicolosi, 153 Fairhaven Road, for the construction of a single-family home requiring alteration of bordering vegetated wetlands; RDA filed by Clifton Lopes, 14 Cathaway Lane, for the construction of a deck receiving a Negative Determination; conditioning of a Notice of Intent filed by Judith Yard, 67 Wolf Island Road, for septic repairs; and a continuance for a RDA filed by Jessica Campione, 26 Fieldstone Drive, for landscape modifications in restricted conservation areas.
A number of Certificates of Compliance were issued, and then late into the meeting was a conversation with Ted Goudy of Aerie Homes of Waltham for the ratification of an Enforcement Order for The Preserve at Bay Club LLC.
Erosion control problems along Fieldstone Drive and the alleged lack of attention in this matter prompted the Enforcement Order. Goudy defended himself, saying, “The basic issue is two catch basins….” and then went on to explain that stormwater management systems had failed during large storms. He said that improvements to those systems had also failed during a subsequent storm. “There’s just too much water that hasn’t gone into the wetlands.”
Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidhold said stabilization of one of the undeveloped lots was necessary to diminish movement of silt into the wetlands.
Goudy said the problems at the site were not really a failure of the overall stormwater system but a problem of pooling around erosion controls that didn’t allow the water to flow.
King asked, “You’ve received the order, have you addressed these issues? It’s a yes or no answer.” Goudy responded that he had. King stated, “I’ll be there tomorrow morning and either you have or you haven’t.”
“I believe I have,” Goudy said.
“We’re going to ratify the Enforcement Order now, and I’ll be there tomorrow,” King told Goudy.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 11 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.
By Marilou Newell