Giffords Lane Work Faces Wetland Violations

            Abutters criticized a proposal to replace a house at 694C Mill Street (end of Giffords Lane) but not before Marion Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Emil Assing aired his concerns during the commission’s February 22 public meeting.

            S&S Ventures, LLC filed a Notice of Intent for reconstruction of a single-family house at 694C Mill Street (end of Gifford’s Lane.)

            Represented by Dave Davignon of Schneider, Davignon & Leone, Inc., the applicant sought permission to demolish a 1939 house that straddles the wetland line and build a two-bedroom, single-family home with an attached garage in the southwest corner of the property.

            Assing indicated belief that the plan for vegetation may not be adequate, that restoration should be done and suggested that the homeowner in violation of the Wetlands Protection Act in preparing the site should become subject to some form of enforcement by the Conservation Commission.

            “I’m pretty upset and disappointed that what was done on the site and especially – we don’t know what was there, I’ve never been down this road before (February 18),” said Assing. “There clearly was a lot of junk in that wetland going back to, probably, previous owners. Trash and appliances and tires and just a bunch of … nasty stuff … so it just hasn’t been treated with respect in the past and that this project is certainly a positive project.”

            Noting that the proposal would move the house away from the wetland, remove a cesspool and install a septic system, Assing acknowledged the land is headed in the right direction.

            “I like this project as proposed, but I also feel like a wetlands violation was done on this property, and I think we need to address it with a real enforcement order that would allow us to get a real restoration company to come in here and see what needs to be done in order to get the wetland restored. That’s my opinion,” he said.

            With that, Assing asked Davignon when all the work had been done.

            “I don’t know the total history of the project. I know that my client did go to the site early on in the process,” said Davignon, who indicated it took some time to get LEC to flag the wetlands.

            Acknowledging it may not matter at this point, Assing reasserted that the property included a “very interconnected wetland that goes all the way down to the harbor,” may have included a pond or vernal pool and was a “very productive wildlife habitat.  … I feel like some habitat has been destroyed on this property.”

            Conservation Agent Doug Guey-Lee said he had been out to the site and found it to be “junky” and “overgrown.” Having missed time normally devoted to a site visit for family reasons, Guey-Lee had not seen the recent disturbance.

            “It’s a little disappointing because we’re faced with how much forgiveness rather than permission we should give,” said Guey-Lee, who advocated for management over what area has not been disturbed.

            Guey-Lee stopped short of endorsing an enforcement order, preferring a restoration plan.

            Having been out of the country at the time of the site visit but having seen the photos, Commission Chairman Jeff Doubrava asked if this is an enforcement order or not. He told Davignon there must be a long-term restoration plan and suggested the public hearing be continued to give Davignon the time to ask the applicant if it wishes to add a long-term restoration plan or an enforcement order to follow.

            Davignon’s preference was to have his client engage LEC Environmental to produce a report addressing the commission’s concerns. Guey-Lee said he was also willing to meet with LEC on the matter.

            Assing reiterated his opinion there should be an enforcement order so the commission can regulate the project to its conclusion and that the NOI should remain a separate matter, being a positive project as an environmental improvement.

            Before the hearing was continued to Wednesday, March 8, Doubrava invited public comment. An abutter said significant tree clearing has taken place at the site and since the clearing, their own property has been beset with water-collection problems.

            After an abutter’s comment, Davignon clarified that it was the property owner and not he who contacted the abutter.  He took offense at the implication of his own involvement in any of the disputed actions at the site.

            Michael Moore was voted a Negative Box 2 Determination of Applicability for repair of a cement cap of granite pier on the north side of an island and reinstall a wooden pier bridge at 1 Ram Island.

            The December 23, 2022 flood caused damage, Moore explained, namely the loss of the bridge that connects the piers. Before replacing the bridge, Moore wishes to replace the concrete cap, which has cracks. The supporting rock is “in good shape,” according to Moore.

            Moore is considering adding elevation, to which Doubrava suggested requires no permitting. Going out farther over the water would require additional permitting, he said. Moore said there are no plans to expand the footprint, only to consider elevation to mitigate storm surge.

            One possibility being considered is an adjustable elevation, as Moore noted a permanent elevation is less convenient for the user of the bridge.

            Rusting out of bolts remains a concern. Commissioner Emil Assing said he and associate commissioner Millie Seeberg visited the site and said he supports the project. The plan is to break up the existing cement cap and install a prefabricated replica.

            Guey-Lee suggested checking on any elevation proposals with “the agencies,” including the Waterways Department.

            The Joyce J. Patten Trust – 1994 filed a Notice of Intent for a proposed residential pier facility at 83 Holly Road.

            Represented by Davignon, the applicant sought permission to extend a 20-year-old boardwalk across a saltmarsh into Wing’s Cove with an 80×4-foot, pile-supported timber pier further extended by a 19-foot float.

            No work was proposed within the saltmarsh area. The first set of piles would be seaward 20 feet from the last existing piles. There would be a seating bench at the end of the proposed pier.

            Davignon said that he met in December with the harbormaster to discuss the plan and sent the department documentation.

            Given ongoing correspondence with the Harbormaster Department and the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Davignon and the commission agreed with Guey-Lee to continue the public hearing to Wednesday, March 8.

            Confirming a reduction but no change in approved work, the commission voted to grant Village Way Realty Trust/Indian Cove Trust two full Certificates of Compliance for work done at 49 Holly Pond Road.

            James and Carolyn Rubenstein were voted an Amended Order of Conditions for a float-improvement project at 163 Allens Point Road.

            The original OOC was granted in February 2022 for replacement of an existing gangway. The applicant sought a minor change, proposing relocation of a four-pile float and addition of a fifth pile. The applicant went through the Waterways permitting process before seeking the Conservation Commission’s approval for the changes.

            Cheryl Farrell was voted a Negative Box 2 Determination of Applicability for removal of a pine tree measuring approximately 80 feet in height at 97 County Road.

            The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, at 7:00 pm.

Marion Conservation Commission

By Mick Colageo

Leave A Comment...