Solar Bylaw Withdrawn from Warrant

            It may not be a true eleventh-hour revelation, but pretty close, as the Mattapoisett Planning Board voted on April 5 to withdraw a new Solar Bylaw Article from the Annual Town Meeting Warrant after learning that legal edits are needed.

            For over a year, the board and its members, especially Janice Robbins, have been beavering away on solar bylaw drafts in preparation for a Town Meeting vote. Now, practically on the eve of having the warrant printed, the board learned that legal review would prompt a number of edits.

            Robbins, who has nearly single-handedly spearheaded the bylaw draft, said, “I thought town counsel had already seen it, but, no, they hadn’t. They made numerous edits including some that are substantive in nature.” She went on to say, “I can’t support going forward at this time; the better course is to pull it from the May Town Meeting.”

            Citing the time needed to absorb the legal edits and prepare the document for a Fall Town Meeting, Robbins said there is no point in jeopardizing the adoption of a new solar bylaw by having the Attorney General reject it on a technicality. “It’s a complicated bylaw; we need to get this right,” she said.

            The board unanimously voted to withdraw the article until fall.

            Another zoning bylaw, Flood Hazard Areas, is headed to the Annual Town Meeting in May. Acting Planning Board Administrator Mike Gagne said that adoption of the FEMA-mandated revisions had been sidelined due to COVID-19 closures, but added it is now time to seek voter approval. He said the town must accept new maps and language edits or FEMA insurance will be rescinded. “It’s so important that we do this,” Gagne said.

            Discussing the matter further, Robbins said there were actually two articles covering the topic – one for the zoning bylaw, and a second on associated definitions. The board decided to take another look at everything, repost the public hearing to include the definitions section, and return to the matter during its May 3 meeting.

            In other matters, Gagne advised the board that the lender agreement executed between the owners of Brandt Point Village and the town expired in August 2018. The beleaguered residential subdivision has seen its share of complications from several ownerships and incomplete construction for common-area features, and concerns over a shared septic system.

            In conversations with the owner’s representative, Al Loomis of McKenzie Engineering, Gagne said Loomis had responded to a punch list of comments from the town’s peer-review consultant, Field Engineering, and vice versa, but more time is needed for review. Gagne said, regarding the lapsed financial agreement, that more guidance is needed from town counsel.

            There were a number of Approval Not Required and Form A submissions on the lengthy agenda. They included an ANR for 3 Crystal Spring Road by Ryan Correira; Lots 85A and 86A located at Shagbark Circle represented by Jason Youngest of Outback Engineering for a Form A; Brandt Island Road Lots 56 and 57 represented by Douglas Schneider of Schneider, Davignon, & Leone, Inc.; and a Form A for Lots 121 and 122 in the Bay Club, also represented by Youngest. All were approved.

            A Form C application filed for property located on Park Lane was continued when Robbins returned to the unorthodox plan previous presented by the applicant’s representative, Doug Schneider. At issue is a proposal that the developers of the subdivision would reconstruct Park Lane, a public way. Robbins said she needed to consult with town counsel, having “never seen anything like this before.”

She noted that the roadway portion of the proposal would have the developers reconstructing the public roadway from dirt to pavement, as well as a realignment of the roadway in the cul-de-sac. The matter was continued until May 3.

            Also coming before the board was Robert Duffy, 4 Pine Island Road, requesting permission to repair and improve an existing rubble-stone wall feature located along a scenic byway. The request was approved after assurances that the wall would be placed on Duffy’s private property, not in the municipal easement.

            Board members also took up the issue of updating and setting a Planning Board fee schedule. Gagne said that Town Meeting would need to approve an amendment to the board’s Rules and Regulations before the board has the authority to set fees. He said that Town Meeting should approve their authority first, authority they currently do not have, then once that is in place, fees could be planned.

            Member Karen Field asked if Gagne had any details on the long-planned Tinkham Forest Trail. Gagne said that an access trail was planned, had been mapped out, and needed to be placed on local maps. A final step of having the trail recorded at the Registry of Deeds would close the loop.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, May 3, at 7:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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