On April 24, Mattapoisett’s Board of Selectmen – Chairman Paul Silva, Tyler Macallister, and Jordan Collyer – along with Town Administrator Michael Gagne, covered a variety of topics in an agenda that included such diverse items as utility poles, fiscal budgets, new eateries, shellfish, and trees.
Regarding trees, Mattapoisett will be marking Arbor Day on Friday, April 27, at the Town Hall at 10:00 am, Tree Committee Chairman Sandy Hering said.
This is the eleventh year Mattapoisett has been recognized as a Tree City by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its work in ensuring the care of municipal trees and the planting of new trees. Working with Tree Warden Roland Cote, Hering said her committee has been able to maintain the town’s commitment to municipal tree management.
Gagne wished to take a few moments to recognize the efforts Cote has mounted, especially in light of the devastating winter storms that had blown through.
Gagne also wanted to get the message out to the public that trees abutting private property may belong to the Town and not the property owner.
“One big problem is when someone takes down a tree ten feet or so from the road.” He said the Planning Board oversees municipal tree removal and that before a homeowner takes a tree down located near a public roadway, a call to the selectmen’s office is necessary.
“We’ll contact Roland, then we’ll check to see if that tree is subject to the shade tree bylaw,” Gagne said.
Hering pointed out that it isn’t just the removal of trees but also the pruning of trees that needs careful consideration before work is done. Pruning of municipal trees is not allowed by property owners.
Silva read a proclamation declaring April 27 as Arbor Day in Mattapoisett and also thanked Cote for his hard work in the wake of massive storms.
The selectmen met with Steve Geary, a scheduler for Eversource, who faced a frustrated governing body. Gagne and Silva both pointed to the issue of duplicate poles and the subsequent poor management for removing them and repairing the holes left behind.
Gagne expressed even greater problems as he described a situation where coiled wires had been left behind on private property causing a hazard to the occupants. He said numerous calls to Eversource went unanswered. Gagne eventually had the offending cables removed by the town’s Highway Department only to have the same action repeat itself a few weeks later.
Geary was unable to respond to the lack of coordination between various departments within Eversource. He said the utility’s engineering division was responsible for filling in holes, but Silva said the poor quality of the repairs was problematic with the possibility of cave in which presented a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists.
Macallister said, “We had Verizon in twice… They said the problem was Eversource. The poles weren’t listed in the database.”
Eversource maintains a database for poles that they are responsible for updating when changes are made such as abandonment and subsequent need for pole removal.
Collyer asked, “How often do you audit the database … for accuracy?” Geary wasn’t sure it was audited. Geary said that mistakes probably took place in the office, but assured the selectmen that he would now be available to address their concerns moving forward.
“The system is ripe for improvement,” Gagne said.
The upcoming Annual Town Meeting scheduled for May 14 at 6:30 pm in Old Rochester Regional High School auditorium and the warrant articles were discussed.
Gagne said that Articles 1 and 2 on the warrant would be new zoning bylaw amendments that would completely ban the commercial sale of recreational marijuana in Mattapoisett. He said legal counsel assisted in drafting the two articles and that each required a two-thirds vote to pass. He urged the public to attend Town Meeting.
The balance of what will be addressed at Town Meeting, Gagne said, included the FY19 budget along with water and sewer articles and articles being presented and supported by the Community Preservation Committee.
Gagne also said there would be a bylaw governing the installation and removal of utility poles and another that would prohibit putting snow in public ways. He said that when snow is pushed into public roadways, it becomes a travel hazard. The bylaw will carry a fine of $100 and will be enforced by the Police Department.
There will be three Community Preservation Act articles in the warrant, Gagne said. Nominated as top priority of the three grants received was a grant in the amount of $144,900 sought by the Town of Mattapoisett for repairs to a building located on the former Holy Ghost grounds. CPC Chairman John DeCosta said the committee believed it was necessary to provide funding for a new roof, doors, and windows to ensure the building’s integrity.
Silva was a little put off by that sum, wondering in light of other pressing matters if that amount was too great. Gagne was in favor of the sum, saying it was important so that use of the building could begin, saying, “Your investment is small, but the value is high.”
The second place grant was for a Dog Park proposed on the Police Department grounds in the amount of $75,000. Gagne said the grantee, Freemin Bauer, had received cost estimates and is in the process of drafting a construction plan.
And last but not least, the CPC supports a grant in the amount of $10,000 for a study of the American Legion Hall. Previously, the organization had asked for a handicap ramp and ADA-compliant bathrooms. But DeCosta explained that the committee was concerned with the overall structural competency of the building and thus would support only a study at this time.
Two action items on the agenda were all about food.
Coming before the selectmen were Robert Field and Susan Wilbur to renew their aquaculture license for another 10-year period. Doing business as Copper Beach Farm, the duo said that production was ramping and going well. Silva said that if ownership of the license changed fifty percent or more, they would be required to advise the selectmen.
Gagne said, “I did a field inspection several months ago… They are very conscientious of their equipment and care of the stock.” He said the team is very sensitive that their operation fits the environment saying, “We are very fortunate … their stock has even enhanced the native shell fish.” The renewal was granted.
And then there is pizza! A public hearing was held for a request by Albert Meninno, Jr. for an on premise all alcohol license for his new restaurant, New Rustico, in the former How On Earth building, 62 Marion Road. The restaurant will feature brick oven pizza, pasta, and other family favorites, Meninno said. He said the license would add to the experience of eating out, but that it would be a family restaurant with hours no later then 10:00 pm on weekends. The license was approved, and Meninno planned to be fully operational by June.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for May 8 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell