Enforcement Order Nearing Closure

            Seabreeze Lane overlooks Eel Pond and surrounding marshlands. The residences that enjoy the view were built with long lists of dos and don’ts based on the wetlands and the life they support, from cedar trees to grasses and marine life. Daniel Craig made decisions during the landscaping phase of his home at 3 Seabreeze Lane, decisions that would find him in conflict with the Town of Mattapoisett and the Buzzards Bay Coalition for several years. There would be enforcement orders issued by the Conservation Commission and rounds of litigation. Craig’s last appeal found the court returning the matter back to the town. The enforcement order remained in place.

            There would be many more months of stalemate followed by attempts at remediation based on what the Conservation Commission wanted – that vast swaths of cultivated lawn be returned to their originally protected status as wetlands. Now that process is nearly complete.

            On January 11, the Conservation Commission heard from environmental engineer Brian Faneuf, whom Craig hired to oversee the process of turning lawn back into wetlands. Faneuf said that he had worked closely and deferred to recommendations brought forth by environmental engineer John Rockwell, whom the town hired for oversight of the remediation process.

            Faneuf said that a finger of land, the last remaining bit to be scraped to the original soils and planted with saltwater-tolerant vegetation, was complete. As evidence, he provided photographs of the site. He said that the remediated sections were now “hydraulically connected” to the native bordering area. He assured the commission that the plantings would not fail. In closing out his comments, he asked that the two-year reporting cycle be waived, and the enforcement order lifted.

            Speaking on behalf of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, attorney Korrin Petersen asked for an updated as-built plan. Faneuf said the plan of record was sufficient and that the completed work actually amounted to a greater area than what was noted on the plans.

            Conservation Commission Chairman Mike King shared a conversation he said he had had with Craig when he did a site visit. “He recognizes his poor choices in the past.… He said it had destroyed his good name in town [and] he wanted a public way to make amends.” King said he suggested that Craig make a $1,000 donation to the Natural Resources Department, monies that could be used to purchase shellfish seeds. Regarding the waiving of the two-year growing reports and lifting of the enforcement order, King said, “We’ll take that under advisement.” King indicated a discussion with the selectmen and town’s legal counsel was also necessary, adding, “My hope is we will be able to put this behind us during the next meeting.”

            King did, however, take a straw poll of the commission in attendance. David Lawrence said he, too, wanted to put the matter behind him and move forward, and he was leaning toward lifting the enforcement order. But commissioners Trevor Francis and John Jacobsen both felt that following the established protocol was necessary. “Why would we lift it prematurely?” Francis asked.

            The matter was continued until January 25.

            In other matters, William Mueller, 89 Mattapoisett Neck Road, received a negative determination of applicability for removal of invasive species on his 42-acre former cattle farm. Contractor Tom Lanagan said that, by removing a variety of non-native vines destroying the woodlands, hardwood trees could be saved, and old stone walls restored. King commented, “It’s a good project to save the resource, in my opinion.”

            An Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation filed by Aaron Halmili for property owned by Gerald Randall located at the town line with Fairhaven and the boundary of Route 195 was continued. Noting the vast area that requires delineation and associated certification, King said the scope of work was beyond what the conservation office could handle. King told engineering representative Dan Wells, “You’ll need to prepare your clients that a 53G engineer will be needed.” Costs associated with a peer-review consultant are borne by the applicant. The request was continued until January 25.

            A Notice of Intent previously heard and continued was reopened for a filing by Raymond Hanks, 18 Crystal Springs Road, for the construction of a garage in a buffer zone. The project was approved and conditioned.

            Another Notice of Intent continued until January 25 was filed by Christos Kuliopulous for property located at the Preserve at the Bay Club. The filing is for a single-family home.

            Also continued until January 25 were NOIs filed by Randall Lane, LLC, for a solar array, and by Alexander Bauer, 7 Nashawena Road, to reconstruct a single-family residence.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for January 25 at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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