Historic Groundwater Issues Resurface

            It’s said that still waters run deep. Or in the case of those living downstream from antiquated stormwater drainage systems or the lack thereof, still waters are bubbling up.

            Groundwater and drainage concerns were aired once again for a residential subdivision located near Tupelo Lane, Channing Road, and Mulberry Drive, all south of Pinebrook Lane located off Pine Island Road.

            During the June 22 meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission, David Davignon of Schneider, Davignon, and Leone, Inc. representing Kenneth and Catherine Wood, explained plans for the construction of a previously permitted, single-family dwelling on the cul-de-sac Pinebrook Lane. He said that when the Woods purchased the property, they were unaware of a pre-existing order of conditions, now expired. Thus they filed a new Notice of Intent versus a less complicated modification to an existing order of conditions, he said.

            Davignon said the new home would be a five-bedroom structure all within the jurisdictional buffer zone and would include a private septic system. He said that stormwater systems designed for the entire subdivision had been approved after the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection became involved in the project several years ago. Now, he said, the DEP had made no comment on the new filing, thus establishing the continued acceptance of the previously approved drainage system. Also in place are underground conduits for electrical and electronic systems needed in the new home, Davignon added.

            A letter received by the commission from an unnamed abutter asked that the commission consider adding a stormwater recharge system for roof runoff and the extension of a grass swale to direct stormwaters into the system. Davignon said with assurance that his clients would be informed of the request which he believed to be acceptable.

            Conservation Commission Chairman Mike King opened the remote meeting room to public comment granting entrance of John Newton, 3 Tupelo Lane. Newton requested copies of the plan of record, saying that the documents he had received were out-of-date. King said, “All the plans were submitted and advertised before the public hearing; the only thing that will change are the two points previously raised.” He said plans would be made available.

            Becky Lockwood, 2 Mulberry Drive, asked why a private septic system was being planned considering the groundwater problems in the area instead of connection to the municipal sewer system running along Pine Island Road. Davignon said that the Sewer Commission had not authorized or responded to a request by the property owners and that, in order to receive a building permit, a sanitation system had to be included.

            Richard Blasdale, 2 Channing Road, said, “I live at the lowest point… (drainage systems) have not been effective.”

            Jahn Pothier, 4 Channing Road, also questioned a sewer tie-in. “Everything runs downhill,” he said and asked that the drainage systems be reviewed to ensure they would work properly. But King dove into the history of the subdivision.

            “You have historical stormwater problems from the 1960s,” King began. He said when the first homes were being built, he, along with members of the DEP who he said became involved in the project at the behest of some abutters, made a site visit to observe the system. “Everything was in working order. Why haven’t you said anything to town officials before now?

            “Stormwater runoff from existing streets is under the purview of the Highway Department. I think your issues are not related to this project. I respect you have a problem, but not due to this project.”

            King said that abutters in the area were more likely to have problems with the groundwater levels than stormwater runoff. “You can’t pin your collective problem on your new neighbor; all stormwater features have been approved by the state.”

            Davignon stated, “There are groundwater issues in the neighborhood. The property was utilized as a bypass, the town has dumped water from Marion Road in the area, a stream flows through the property, Marion Road (drainage) is connected to Holly Lane, it’s a mess there, but it has not been created by these two homes.”

            “I’m sympathetic to anyone who has a water issue,” King said, going on to share that he grew up in a home that had a wet basement that he was responsible for cleaning-up as a youngster. “This one house is not going to exacerbate the problem.” He advised the abutters to contact the Highway Department and town administrator to share their concerns. To place damage at the shores of the new structure was, King said, “…unfair and not appropriate.”

            Before continuing the hearing until July 13, King asked Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold to send a letter to the Highway Department asking the highway surveyor to look into stormwater issues in the area of the new project.

            A negative determination of applicability was issued to Fogcutter LLC for property located at 50 Ocean Drive for improvements and repairs to an existing seawall.

            King asked that an Enforcement Order be issued to the property owners of 42 Main Street for unpermitted activities in jurisdictional areas, clearing and soil dumping as evidenced by photographs submitted to the commission.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for July 13 at 6:30 pm. Remote access meeting information will be posted at mattapoisett.net.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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