Lack of Enforcement Questioned

The November 15 meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission included a rather innocuous Request for Determination of Applicability for 26R Pine Island Road filed by Craig and Elaine Bovaird. The agenda item read, “Applicant proposes to rebuild a stone wall and plant two trees together with an After the Fact authorization to cut three trees along the subject stone wall.” It further described the property as being within the 200-foot riverfront boundary and Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage.

                  The Bovairds were represented by David Davignon of Schneider, Davignon & Leone, Inc.

                  The commission heard from Davignon that the work included the rebuilding of a stone wall constructed in the dry-block manner and the planting of two trees. He said that an arborist has confirmed that trees, removed without prior approval, were in fact diseased and a threat to passersby. Now the commission’s sentiment was that the property owner was in compliance.

                  But that did not seem to sit well with Mattapoisett Tree Committee member Barbara Poznysz, who asked, “Why are we giving them a pass?”

                  Chairman Mike King responded that what the commission seeks is not punitive damages but compliance. He said that it is the role of the local commission to “administer the state law,” and that it lacks any mechanism to issue tickets or fines. He said that, in some situations that cannot be resolved locally, the Department of Environmental Protection can be brought in, but in the absence of a local wetlands bylaw, achieving compliance is the goal.

                  Poznysz wondered aloud, “What kind of message does that send?”

Brandon Faneuf said, in the absence of a local bylaw, “The commission is going down the right road.”

                  Poznysz thought pursuing a bylaw might be in order, to which King replied that it had been tried unsuccessfully at Town Meeting in the past. The filing received a “Negative 2” ruling for acceptance of the plan, and Davignon was asked to speak with the owners regarding possibly four new trees versus two.

                  A number of enforcement orders were reviewed by the commission to learn whether or not property owners were attempting compliance.

                  Faneuf reported that 37 Water Street, where vegetation had been stripped along a perennial stream, had successfully repaired and restored the wetlands after a two-year mandatory reporting of seasonal growth. The commission approved the lifting of the Enforcement Order.

                  Also reaching compliance was 16 Howard Beach (Romanelli) for the unpermitted installation of a cistern. The homeowner agreed to file for a RDA.

                  In other business, a NOI filed by James and Dale Barnes, 69 Mattapoisett Neck Road, for an automated boat-lift system was conditioned. Barns also received a Negative decision on a continued RDA for the installation of an irrigation system.

                  Continued to a later date pending the issuance of a DEP number and comments from the MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, but viewed favorably by the commission, was roadway construction for 0 Nicky’s Lane.

                  David Oberlander, 7 Angelica Avenue, filed a RDA for renovations and improvements to an existing structure which received a Negative 2 ruling. A Certificate of Compliance was issued to Robert Braman for 0 Union Avenue, and a NOI previously conditioned for 120A Acushnet Road (Jim and Sharlene Craig) received approval of a three-year extension.

                  The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Monday, November 28, at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

By Marilou Newell

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