The September 14 meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board was a long day’s journey into night with a number of agenda items being handled. None, however, will be more visible than the planned reconstruction of Main, Water, and Beacon Streets, as well as Old Marion Road.
Coming before the board were Eversource planners Ryan Earle and Tom Costa to discuss the utility’s proposal of gas line replacements from Acushnet Road to Fairhaven Road, then jumping across Route 6 to continue on down the scenic village roadway along the waterfront, ending at the intersection of Old Marion Road and Route 6.
Costa said the plan would take approximately four years to complete with at least three phases timed to take place during the off-season in an effort to minimize disruption to the boating community.
“We want to get in front of your larger road project,” he said, referring to the all-inclusive roadway improvement project the town has been planning for a number of years and which is currently awaiting 2025 Transportation Infrastructure Project funding.
Discussions centered around the need for tight coordination with VHB, the town’s consulting engineers for the roadway project. Costa noted that service upgrades to individual customers would also take place, prompting Highway Surveyor Garrett Bauer to say sidewalks would need to be replaced. Select Board Member Jodi Bauer also said care of existing trees and associated root systems is important. Select Board Chairman Jordan Collyer said VHB has already surveyed and inventoried town trees along the route and directed Costa to contact them for the details.
There was further discussion on timing with Costa saying Eversource’s schedule is flexible, and that work could begin as soon as this fall if weather conditions are favorable, which could mean pushing the start date out to April 2022.
Housing issues were the topic of a request from resident Barbara White of 99 County Road, who came before the board requesting a permit to use two recreational campers as living accommodations for her family of three adults and two children. She explained that an existing single-family home on the property is in severe disrepair and that for economic reasons, the family needs to stay on the site while the home is under construction.
Concerns voiced by Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola, Collyer, Bauer, and Select Board member Tyler Macallister centered around safety issues. Current bylaws allow for the permitting of temporary mobile housing units placed on-site if the residence has been destroyed by fire or natural disasters. The issue of long-term heating elements in a camper, along with cooking, presented a real hazard to the life safety of the family, they said.
“I understand your situation, but I need assurances we aren’t taking on something that’s a liability. I want to help from a humanitarian viewpoint, but…,” said Collyer, pointing to the liability the town would be accepting if the campers were permitted more than two weeks.
White was told, if she could rent a mobile home designed for long-term residential use while the home is being repaired, that would be acceptable. She received a two-week permit and was asked to return to the next Select Board meeting to see where things stand at that time. In the meantime, Town Counsel would be contacted, Collyer said, to help clarify the town’s position.
Conservation Commission Chairman Mike King and member David Lawrence came before the board seeking ratification of a letter of understanding with Brandon Faneuf of Ecosystem Solutions, Inc. for his work as a 53G conservation consulting agent. King said that for certain projects needing expert review, the applicants would pay for Faneuf’s work, meaning the town would bear no cost.
Macallister said, “I like the concept.” He said applicants would benefit from Faneuf’s services and that delays created by not having an agent on staff “cost the applicants time and money.”
The board elected to move forward with the plan and review after it after 90 days. Collyer added that a survey could be sent out asking residents how the process worked for them.
Harbormaster Jamie McIntosh and Marine Advisory Board Chairman Carlos DeSousa met with the board to discuss and receive approval for waterway fee increases. McIntosh said that to keep the department solvent, it is time to increase fees where possible, namely moorings, stickers, and dinghy
DeSousa said that, with the increase, the enterprise fund could see as much as $350,000 annually. Collyer said it is important to keep the enterprise fund from “going in the red.” A public hearing will be held by the board on this matter at a date to be determined.
Community Gardens organizers Bill O’Keefe and Barbara Vaninwegen came before the board requesting a possible community garden on the grounds of the town-owned former Holy Ghost property off Park Street. Collyer countered that maybe a better location would be the former Gomes property now owned by the town and located adjacent to the Police Station on Hubbard’s Way.
The board agreed it is a viable idea, but issues of liability were raised. Collyer asked that the group should research the type of insurance needed and that the town administrator would check in with town counsel to ascertain what the town should require of the gardening group. Collyer also said that, given it was public property, other groups would have to be given the opportunity to use the site through a Request for Proposal process.
The Mattapoisett Land Trust, represented by member Gary Johnson, brought a request to the board for its signatures on a grant application in the amount of $45,000 for the purpose of acquiring a parcel of land along Mattapoisett Neck Road. He said the conservation restriction would be held by the town and the Buzzards Bay Coalition. The board agreed.
Members of the Mattapoisett Historical Commission asked for and received permission to open a new site in Shipyard Park for memorial bricks. Work may begin before the winter season.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board is scheduled for Tuesday, September 28, at 6:30 pm.
Mattapoisett Select Board
By Marilou Newell