With the Baker administration set to lift all manner of pandemic-related restrictions, the brief May 26 meeting of Public Health Nurse Emily Field and the Board of Health was a classic case of no news is good news.
Regarding the upcoming Lions Club fundraiser known as Harbor Days, Field said that while information from the CDC and the state remains “fluid,” it appeared that many if not all previous restrictions on gatherings outdoors were about to be lifted. “No more face masks outside after May 29,” she announced.
Field reported that confirmed COVID-19 cases remain low and that she has been working with the Tri-Town boards to set up vaccine clinics in the coming days. The clinics will offer vaccines to anyone 12 years of age and older. She said that plans include a clinic at the Rochester Fire Station and possibly at Old Rochester Regional High School. Dates were not mentioned.
In other business, septic systems, both repairs and new construction, took up the lion’s share of the nearly two-hour long public meeting.
A hearing to vet variances or waivers requested by Robert Malm, Lot 88 on Aucoot Road and represented by David Davignon of Schneider, Davignon, & Leone, Inc., received impassioned pushback from abutters. As detailed by Davignon, the property owner wishes to develop the southern portion of the nearly 7-acre site, leaving the northern section open to future development. Davignon said that a denitrification F.A.S.T. septic system would be installed and thus would be permitted for installation within 50 feet of wetlands delineated on the property. Such construction would require a variance from the Board of Health.
Abutter Jeffrey Humphrey spoke strongly against the project, including his direct question to the BOH: “If most of the people are against the project, is that relevant to your decision making?” BOH Chair Carmelo Nicolosi responded, “If it relates to the regulations.” Humphrey said of the proposal, “If there is a reasonable alternative (to the proposed septic location), then this matter should not be granted.”
Abutters Julie and Jonathan Craig stated that, given that the northern acres are outside the 100-foot wetlands delineation, Malm does not have a hardship requiring a variance; he simply needs to use the northern area of the property for his septic system. The Craigs also said that an appeal has been filed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection against the conditions issued to Malm for development of the southern portion by the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission.
Malm explained that, while nothing is planned for the immediate future of the northern acreage, he wants to save that land for his children and grandchildren’s future use. In order to develop the northern acreage, Malm said, the southern acreage would need to have a septic system located as designed – within 50 feet of wetlands.
Nicolosi told Malm, “You are able to meet the regulations.… You’ve created your own hardship.”
The other board members agreed that no hardship exists outside that being created by Malm’s proposal to separate the lots in the future. The application was denied.
Nicolosi told The Wanderer in a follow-up that revised Board of Health regulations that would put local requirements more in line with the state requirements are pending full implementation. He said that the board and town administration want to ensure that changes put in place in March 2020 receive full public vetting since those meetings were held during the early stages of remote-access platforms. If it is found that “all the ‘I’s were not dotted or ‘T’s crossed, we’ll take care of that in an advertised public meeting,” he said.
The two applications needing to be continued pending clear confirmation that the BOH’s updated regulations had been legally vetted last March are located on Brandt Island Road lots 56 and 57 respectively owned by Stephen Napolitano and Ralph Cotellesso. Their hearings were continued until June 23.
Representing 7 Acorn Lane, owned by Michael Florio in what was deemed a “straight up” request for variances that fall within current regulations, was Richard Charon of Charon Associates. The request was approved.
Also approved was Charles Tate’s request for waivers for an upgrade to an existing septic system. The project is located at 218 North Street and was represented by Bob Field of Field Engineering.
In a final piece of business, Nicolosi said that letters of understanding with several Board of Health inspections have been signed. The need to outsource inspectional services came on the heels of the departure of the town’s health agent. He also said that Town Administrator Mike Lorenco would soon post the opening and review other resumes received about a year ago.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Health is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, at 10:00 am.
Mattapoisett Board of Health
By Marilou Newell