By Beth David, Editor
At its meeting on Monday, 6/27, the Fairhaven Conservation Commission voted to accept the wetland verification line and allow limited brush clearing at a property owned by Jimmy and Nickolas Papas that is near the Little Bay Conservation Area, but not without hearing from skeptical neighbors. The commission also voted on nine other hearings and an enforcement order on Earl’s Marina.
Nearly 20 people stayed until late to hear the Papas request. Jimmy Papas addressed the board, saying he had asked for permission to cut trees and remove stumps simply to allow engineers to map out the property to decide the best place to build up to nine houses.
The property is located at Hiller Avenue, Paul Street and Timothy Street. He said his early thoughts are to put three houses at each location.
The wetland verification had been done months ago, but some bad weather had caused some delay in the ConCom voting on the proposal. The board hired Brandon B. Faneuf, Principal Scientist at Ecosystem Solutions, to verify the flags, and that was the first point of contention with neighbors. Some did not accept the determination by the scientist that the flags were properly placed.
Neighbors are concerned that tree cutting will cause the wind turbines and treatment plant noise to be even louder.
ConCom member Louise Barteau tried to assure neighbors that Mr. Faneuf has a good reputation, but she also acknowledged that he would not “show his work,” by providing notes or worksheets on how he reached his determination.
The ConCom also noted that a plan from years ago, calling for 23 houses, was never approved. The ConCom’s only job that night was to vote on the proposal to cut trees within 100 feet of the buffer zone.
“I love trees,” said Mr. Papas, adding that he was only looking for permission to do “selective clearing” to see how to divide the property.
He said he planned on creating large lots and leaving lots of trees as a buffer between the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and the wind turbines.
“It would be crazy to build something down there anyway,” he said.
ConCom vice chair, Geoffrey Haworth, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Jay Simmons, said his issue was with the trees, not the wetland line.
He suggested that the ConCom limit the cutting to brush only, with a maximum of one-inch in diameter for trees; and no cutting at all within 25 feet of the wetlands. Mr. Papas agreed to those conditions.
One neighbor said she was sure there was a stream back there. The question was if the stream fed into a pipe mentioned on the report. Mr. Haworth, drawing on his days as a member of the Board of Public Works, said he was sure the pipe was for “storm-water management,” not for the stream.
“How much brush are we talking about,” asked Jennifer Carter, of Paul Street.
Mr. Haworth said the ConCom would also limit Mr. Papas to 10% of the total property. The parcel is approximately 15 acres.
Mr. Papas noted that the property has tracks from motorized vehicles throughout, so it is not dense with trees, so cutting would be minimal.
Karen Isherwood of Teal Circle took issue with the board’s acceptance of the wetland line because of the reputation of the scientist.
“We do have an obligation to approve the wetland line,” said Mr. Haworth, adding that two engineers came to the same conclusion, so the commission clearly did its due diligence.
Ms. Barteau said she did take the time to check on the reputation of Mr. Faneuf. She also tried to explain that the verification calls for looking at soil and plants and can get very complicated.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Ms. Isherwood. “You only have his word on it.”
“Trees will come down,” said Ms. Isherwood, adding she was “tired of hearing” that no trees would be cut. “When houses go in, trees come down.”
Donna McKenna of Teal Circle said she did not understand how the commission could approve it without knowing what the plans would be.
Mr. Haworth explained that they were not approving any building, that Mr. Papas would have to present to the Planning Board and probably Zoning Board of Appeals, in addition to ConCom before he could actually build anything.
Mr. Haworth said that Monday’s vote was just so they could look around.
“He owns the land,” said Mr. Haworth. “He has a right to use the land.”
“I’m concerned about the trees,” said Mr. Silveira of Timothy Street. “Because we have a lot of noise already with the turbines and the treatment plant.”
Mr. Haworth assured him that the ConCom was not approving any widespread cutting or any building at all.
Ms. Carter asked what the next steps were and said that the neighbors planned on appealing any decisions that allowed Mr. Papas to continue.
Mr. Haworth said that appealing a wetlands verification approval would not be the best use of their money, suggesting that they save the appeals process for more substantial steps down the road. However, he also explained that they have the right to appeal within 10 days of the decision.
The board voted to accept the wetland verification and to allow Mr. Papas to cut brush and trees up to one inch in diameter for the purpose of mapping out the property. Other conditions included no cutting at all within 25 feet of the wetlands line, no more than 10% of the total property to be cut, and no heavy equipment.
The motion passed five to one with Simone Bourgeois abstaining. She recused herself from the discussion with no explananation, but did not leave the room.
After the vote, Mr. Papas turned to the neighbors and asked, “What are you afraid of?”
The room erupted in a burst of loud responses from the neighbors.
Mr. Haworth threatened to remove everyone from the room.
“I’m not [going to] have disorder like that,” he said.
The ConCom also granted permission to Antonio Martinho to dig test pits and cut vegetation at 5 Causeway Road to eventually build a home, within the flood zone and buffer zone. The property did have a house on it at one time.
Mr. Haworth said he stopped the owner from cutting brush three times on the property. He said the person cutting usually said he did not know he was not supposed to cut the vegetation, but after three times?
He said the town has sent letters, but the owner has ignored the town.
Civil Engineer Rick Charon, representing the owners, said the two issues were separate. He was only looking to dig test pits to determine the soil makeup to figure out the foundation work. The site is in a flood zone and the house will have to be built on stilts.
The board approved the test pits, but cautioned that no other work, including mowing the grass, should be done on the property.
There was no public comment on the petition.
In another matter, the ConCom granted permission for a two-story deck at 65 Balsam Street. Michael Ristuccia, who is also on the Board of Public Works, represented the petitioners, who were listed as “Fairhaven Guests Realty Trust,” but without the owner ever being named.
According to town records, the property is owned by Sara Faisal, with a Brookline address. According to reliable sources, Ms. Faisal is the daughter of Anwar Faisal, who owns Bella Vista Island with his wife Heiam Alsawalhi. Mr. Faisal has been cited numerous times by numerous local and state entities for wetlands violations to his property on Bella Vista Island.
Mr. Haworth, while carefully not mentioning the name of the owner, noted that there was a lot of work done on the property without permits. He did say in the meeting that he knew the owners were relatives of the owners of Bella Vista island.
He questioned whether the board should approve a project on the property, while they are pursuing a violation.
The violation included removing all the vegetation, adding fill and planting grass.
Ms. Barteau said that the ConCom may have approved the work that was done, but they would have had certain requirements, including the type of grass to be planted.
Mr. Ristuccia noted that other petitioners were granted permits for one thing, while being in violation in other areas. He said West Island has many properties in violation.
“I’m not asking to be treated any differently than anybody else,” said Mr. Ristuccia.
Ms. Bourgeois said the board should concentrate on the petition before them, not the previous violations.
“So I think that’s what we should deal with,” said Ms. Bourgeois, meaning the decks only.
ConCom member Amy DeSalvatore was not so sure.
“It’s obvious we’re approving the deck,” she said, but added that the ConCom should get a restoration plan on the other work first.
Ms. Barteau countered that the restoration work would be before the commission at a later date. She said the deck is not affecting the restoration area.
Mr. Ristuccia said he would do what the board wanted, “within reason” about the restoration area.
There was no public comment, and the board approved the decks.
In an item that was not on the agenda, the ConCom voted to support the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s effort to buy land in the Shaw’s Cove area to preserve as open space. The BBC needed the ConCom’s signature to submit the application.
The deadline for the grant is 7/13, and the ConCom is not meeting again until after that date, so Mr. Haworth allowed the item to be heard.
The approval does not obligate the town to support the acquisition, but allows the BBC to pursue the parcel. Town Meeting will have to approve it.
The parcel, the Carvalho property, is about 62 acres and will cost $378,000, Mr. Decker said.
A portion of the land will be open to the public, and part of it will continue to be farmed.
The board continued a public hearing for developer V-Corp, looking to construct a gravel driveway and single family home on Charity Stevens Lane. It is the last lot in the subdivision, according to Tony Medeiros, who presented the plans.
Abutter Mark Monteiro said he was concerned about flooding on his property with the proposed plan. He said he was afraid he would be forced to install a new septic, which would cost tens of thousands of dollars, if the drainage situation changed. He said the whole area floods and freezes in the winter.
Mr. Haworth said that the proposed septic system is out of the buffer zone, so the Board of Health is the place that Mr. Monteiro needs to make his case.
Mr. Monteiro said that the developer was trying to “shoehorn” one more house on the property.
Mr. Medeiros said that he had the same concerns that Mr. Monteiro had and the design will push the water away so it can drain.
The board continued the public hearing to July 18, in case the BOH makes changes to the plan.
In other business the ConCom:
• Granted permission to William and Pamela Yukna of 152 & 160 Balsam Street to replace a shed and repair a foundation, all in the flood zone.
• Granted permission to Augusto Pinto of 153 Weeden Road to install a new septic system, in the flood zone and the buffer zone.
• Granted permission to Paul Rock, 4 Montauk Avenue, to install a new septic system, within a flood zone and the buffer zone.
• Granted permission to Paul and Barbara Beatrice to perform a percolation test on their property at 21 Silver Shell Beach Drive, within the buffer zone and flood zone.
• Closed the public hearing and granted permission, with conditions, for Ronald Oliveira to build a house at 35 Welcome Street, after a compromise was reached on the plans. •••
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