Condo Association Must Produce Engineering Study

            On January 6, members of the Villages at Mattapoisett condominium association Board of Directors once again came before the Planning Board to request the return of a $50,000 surety the town holds. This is part of their Special Permit granted a number of years ago and listed as permit condition number 11.

            In the early days of the association and as part of the permitting process, the developer had been required to provide the town with a $50,000 cash surety against any damages that might occur from what was, at the time, a complex stormwater drainage system. The developer never followed through, leaving the condo owners with no choice but to ante-up the cash themselves. That was in 2004; now, the current board seeks the return of the money.

            Association Chairman Steven Pickup on behalf of the association had previously come before the Planning Board seeking the money’s return. At that time, the board members requested proof that drainage system maintenance and reporting as required by permits had taken place. On this night, Pickup was unable to do so.

            Pickup said that he had not found any evidence that reporting on the condition of the drainage system had taken place, but continued to assure the board members that annual maintenance had been completed. He said that a landscape contractor cut down weeds and other vegetation in a wet drainage pond and that there had been no evidence that the system, which also includes a four-bay detention system and associated trenches, was not functioning properly.

            Planning Board member Nathan Ketchell, a professional engineer, explained why that was insufficient.

            “So the infiltration trenches have to be inspected twice a year,” Ketchell said, referring to the written operation and maintenance agreement held with the town. Pickup said that the contractor did perform that service, but that no reports had been produced. “So, you don’t have a qualified drainage person checking on things?” Ketchell asked. Pickup responded, “We’ve never had a problem.”

            Neighbors from the adjacent Pepper Bush Lane area explained that for years their street and yards had been flooded by water from both the condominium property and that of a funeral home also nearby.

            Caty Fuerman, 7 Pepper Bush Lane, provided photographs that seemed to support her contention that stormwater was, in fact, coming from a defective drainage system. Ketchell pointed out that in one photo it looks like a bowl-shaped catch basin was filled with sediment. Looking at one of Fuerman’s photographs Ketchell pointed out, “That used to be a big bowl, but it’s building up with sediment.”

            Pickup became somewhat frustrated, saying, “We’re getting off the point… The money is for emergency repairs, not maintenance.” 

            But the point that maintenance was critical in the overall plan to keep the system from creating an emergency was not lost on the board members.

            Planning Board member Janice Robbins said, “My concern is that you are not aware of the operation and maintenance provision of your permit.”

            “I didn’t know, but maintenance has been done,” Pickup confirmed.

            “But it doesn’t sound like anyone is paying attention to these reports,” Robbins countered. She added, “I don’t have any problem giving the money back if the condo faithfully does the reporting… I’d like some assurance of inspections.”

            After more than an hour of discussion, the board voted unanimously that the condominium association would engage the services of a qualified engineer to review the current state of the drainage system, produce a report, and solicit the services of a qualified system contractor that will also provide associated reports.

            The hearing was continued until May 4 at 7:00 pm.

            In other business, Chairman Tom Tucker asked that the board members begin studying solar bylaws from surrounding towns with the goal of writing a new bylaw for Mattapoisett. He also said that the board had received two letters of interest from residents for the Master Plan Committee: one adult and one high school student. Tucker was encouraged that a student was interested in participating in the process and reiterated that he believed the committee should be comprised of community members versus members of boards and committees in the town. He expressed his concern that “special interests” might impact a final plan.

            “We need the feedback from the people who live here and pay taxes,” said Tucker.

            Anyone interested in being considered for the Master Plan Committee can contact Mary Crain, Planning Board administrator, at 508-758-4100 ext. 215, or by email at

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for February 10 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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