With a light agenda before them and wanting to allow time for the arrival of Allen Decker of the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC), the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission was able to discuss other matters during the July 8 meeting.
Chairman Mike King asked the commissioners to consider a policy change, specifically when to accept a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) versus requiring the application of a Notice of Resource Area Delineation (NRAD).
Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidhold and the commissioners had been asked to look at fee structures by the Board of Selectmen several months ago. Through that review process, it was determined that there are occasions when Leidhold’s time is consumed with large projects filed under an RDA absent an engineer’s expertise or the necessity of the applicant’s needing to file their delineation request with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). An NRAD filing also requires the petitioner to have the application filed with the county’s Registry of Deeds.
Leidhold said that applicants filing for large wetland delineations should be required to engage a licensed engineer versus relying on the limited time her office has for such activities.
King asked the commissioners what the cutoff number would be that would trigger the requirement for a NRAD filing. After some discussion, the commissioners determined one to 25 wetlands flags could be filed under an RDA, 26 and above would require an NRAD.
While they were on the subject of policies, King stated that he recently learned that the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) allowed for firmer enforcement tactics, but that it was important to allow those receiving an enforcement order time to prepare plans that would correct matters.
“On the issue of enforcement orders, we have to give 90 days to develop plans and for the hiring of a licensed professional,” King shared. Secondly, he said, under the WPA, “We can impose fines that can go back two years.”
Continuing, King stated, “It’s the only method we have under the WPA” to get the attention of those who violate orders of conditions imposed by the commission. He said of the two-year retroactive period, “If you don’t take care of this issue, we’re going back,” adding that fines could be considerable. He said the commission must draft concise enforcement orders to attain “more compliance and less litigation.”
Decker’s arrival signaled a subject change. Coming before the commission, Decker explained that a small 4-acre parcel owned by the Buzzards Bay Coalition at the “Shaw Farm” reservation that straddles Fairhaven and Mattapoisett is slated for conveyance to Philip DeNormandie, the abutting property owner. DeNormandy is also the farmer whose large holdings in the area have been significantly granted as public lands.
Decker said the contractual agreement originally signed with DeNormandie mandated the conveyance, but that the parcel would remain protected into perpetuity under the conservation restriction. The BBC needed the agreement of both towns given that the property in question is located in the municipalities. Decker sought and received the support of the commission.
In other business, an Extension of Order of Conditions requested by William Fredricks, 30 Hollywood Road, was granted for an additional 3-year period.
An RDA filed by Michael Wall, 5 Bethany Lane, for the replacement of a failed sewage disposal field received a Negative determination.
An NOI filed by Delmont Limited, William Muldoon, 74 County Road, also for septic repairs and improvements received an order of conditions.
The commission also ratified an enforcement order for landscape disturbances that exceeded the limits of work permitted for property located at 22 Pine Island Road. The full scope of the violation is yet to be determined.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conversation Commission is scheduled for July 22 at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell