House Project Sparks Wetland Debate

            Robert Malm’s Notice of Intent for the construction of a three-bedroom, single-family home on Aucoot Road was met with fierce opposition during the April 12 meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission via Zoom.

            The dispute centered around condition of the 6.3 acres of land.

            After the proposal was summarized for the commission by project representative Dave Davignon of Schneider, Davignon & Leone Inc., abutter Julie Craig, 77 Aucoot Road, described herself as a civil engineer formerly with G.A.F. Engineering and questioned the wetland delineation.

            Craig said that in 1993, Robert Hiller, the property’s owner at the time, asked G.A.F. to ask if the property was buildable. In overlaying the 1993 wetland delineation line with the site plan presented on Monday night, Craig cited three wetlands flags consistent with 1993 findings but also several others that show new wetlands delineation lines coming away from Aucoot Road, placing the house in the wetlands and its septic system in the buffer zone.

            “I strongly disagree with this line,” said Craig, who said she is certified in reviewing soils and after gaining permission, went onto the neighboring property. “I dug a hole and that is wetlands soil, I can tell you,” she said.

            Commission Chairman Mike King cited the work of Brandon Faneuf from Ecosystem Solutions Inc., calling Faneuf “a qualified wetlands scientist” whose work, King said, was reviewed by Mattapoisett Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold and witnessed by ConCom member David Lawrence. Their observations, said King, resulted in pulling the project away from Aucoot Road based on soils.

            “As a member of the commission, I have every confidence in the agent as well as Mr. Phaneuf,” said King.

            Leidhold said the commission’s representatives did look at the soil and as a result changed delineation in the area of A8-11. “We did not look at the other property,” she said.

            “If you extend your line A10, 11, 12, that’s not uplands soils. That line is not correct,” insisted Craig.

            The proposal calls for construction of a single-family home on the southern end of the property within the 100-foot buffer zone. Elevation, Davignon said, is 20.1 feet, while the base-flood elevation is 18 feet. He alluded to an October 2020 wetland line survey and described an onsite septic system with denitrification (a town requirement for properties within 100 feet of the wetland boundary), and a 5:1 slope ratio to alleviate impact. The house is to have a crushed stone driveway that leads into a drive-under garage. The house would be served by municipal water and be built with an erosion control barrier one block high, a utility shed and, upon completion, loam and seeding. Davignon said the proposal received a state DEP file number without comments.

            Craig also disputed the site plan’s omission of a river/stream behind the property, saying it was approximately 200 feet from her stone wall. King said that if the stream is more than 200 feet from the project, it is not jurisdictional for the commission. Davignon suggested overlaying the USGS map that would show the limits of the riverfront “just to put it to bed,” but Craig disputed the accuracy of the USGS map used in the presentation.

            King said ConCom would take Craig’s remarks under advisement and noted that her comments are in the record. “We generally try to encourage that applicants and abutters come to an understanding prior to public hearing so we can build a consensus,” he said.

            Hugh Kelly, 98 Aucoot Road, spoke for himself and family members at 80, 82, 84, and 96 Aucoot Road, urging a redetermination of the wetland delineation and a survey of the stream.

            Brad Hathaway, 87 Aucoot Road, said, “Some consideration ought to be given to what’s happening to runoff in this town.”

            Jonathan Craig, 77 Aucoot Road, asked why the overall layout was pushed to the south whereas the north end is higher and dryer. While confirming Jonathan Craig’s suspicion that the intent of the plan is to create the ability to split the lot, Davignon said that there are no plans to develop a second lot.

            After the case was continued (to April 26) in keeping with the town’s policy on newly introduced NOI’s, King encouraged all parties to get together in the next two weeks and “work out your differences.” He also encouraged the abutters to check Faneuf’s credentials and described Leidhold as “a very conservative wetlands scientist.”

            In separate votes, the commission issued its standard special Order of Conditions for both Cases SE44-1425 and SE44-1426. Both were notices of intent filed by CJC Construction Corporation for the construction of adjacent, single-family homes on Windward Way on Mattapoisett Neck.

            The public hearings, continued from March 23, once again drew criticism despite plans improved to add several drainage basins to each lot meant to capture runoff from two, 10, and 25-year storms.

            “Mr. (David) Davignon has submitted a very well thought-out, improved plan,” summarized King, citing storm surge, more specifically sea surge, as the challenge for the entire area. Noting that several abutters requested the applicant hire a stormwater consultant under Chapter 53G, King said that is not required. “I don’t want to set a precedent for that.”

            Abutter Tim Kelley insisted he can show significant standing water where it was said there is none. He also said that the applicant did not reach out to abutters despite being encouraged to do so by the commission. “Good advice by you and they did not take it up,” said Kelley.

            King countered that, although not required, the applicant spent a significant amount of money “because of the concerns that were raised by the entire neighborhood. They kind of went above and beyond what we asked them to…. We all have a high degree of confidence in the design plan.”

            ConCom member Chapman Dickerson agreed with King that the applicant should not be forced into a 53G consulting application. “I wouldn’t support anything that costs this owner more, they’ve already done enough,” he said.

            King reminded the project’s opponents that, if they can appeal the decision to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

            In a continued public hearing, N. Douglas Schneider presented updates to Alexander Bauer’s NOI at 7 Nashawena Road for reconstruction of a single-family house. Commission members and abutters noted improvements. The case was continued to April 26.

            Two other new NOI’s were heard and continued to April 26 per town policy, including Barry Sturgis’ proposed repair of an existing failed septic system at 34 Meadowbrook Lane and Conrad and Janice Roy’s proposal to demolish a fire-damaged house and construct a new home at 56 Ocean Drive.

            ConCom voted to issue a Negative 3 Determination in three Request for Determination of Applicability cases. New Rustico LLC at 62 Marion Road can move an existing cooler and expand a deck to 17 feet, 3 inches long by 15 feet wide; John Cornish can replace his existing deck at 18 Tupola Lane; and 9 North Street Realty Trust, c/o Annette Ewing, can demolish an existing house and remove part of a flagstone patio and turn it into lawn. Representing Ewing, Davignon explained that the historic structure once on the property was demolished 20 years ago in favor of the current structure. The intent is to divide the property between two bordering lots in the same family.

            Two continued public hearings were continued without discussion, an ANRAD filed by Aaron Halimi for property owned by Gerald Randall at Route 195 (to April 26) and a NOI filed by Randall Lane Solar LLC for a proposed solar array at 29 Randall Lane (to May 10).

            The commission voted to issue certificates of compliance to Robert B. Hiller II for work at 70 Aucoot Road and to Brian and Betsy Andrade, also listed at 70 Aucoot Road, for completed beach nourishment work. Jay Malaspino, Shagbark Circle, proposed moving his construction slightly farther away from the wetlands, resulting in a minimal change to the plan of record. The case was approved.

            In other business, ConCom unanimously approved a request from Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Mattapoisett Land Trust to amend an existing Conservation Restriction to include an additional 8.7-acre parcel acquired in December 2020.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Monday, April 26, at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Mick Colageo

Leave A Comment...