By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard received a memo from the Board of Health about an upcoming public hearing the BOH will hold to discuss plans by PJ Keating to move its Asphalt Batch Plant from the rear of the property to the South Main Street side.
In the memo to the Selectboard, Health Agent Joseph Correia told the board that PJ Keating had pulled a building permit for a $7,500,000 relocation/upgrade to the facility. He said that normally he would sign off on a building permit, but because of the size of the project and the number of residents that are affected the BOH is requesting a public hearing.
The letter says that the hearing should include the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Department of Public Works, Building Department, Selectboard and Board of Health. It also states that the “potential impacts of moving this operation substantially closer to homes than it currently is should be evaluated by qualified professionals.”
The BOH is, therefore, going to require that PJ Keating provide money, as allowed by state law, to pay for those professionals.
Town Administrator Brian Noble reminded the Selectboard that the Board of Health is the regulatory authority for the permit, not the Selectboard. The BOH has the authority to deny the permit or put restrictions on the proposal, but only for bona fide public health reasons.
The company pulled the permit after a bylaws change at the 11/21/16 Town Meeting that changed the setbacks for equipment and buildings at sand and gravel facilities, allowing the company to put equipment closer to the property line.
Selectboard member Roger Cabral asked the board to use the reverse 911 system to let more people know about the proposed changes.
Mr. Noble noted that it is an abutters hearing and not all town residents would be notified. He also said that the 911 system has specific guidelines on what it can be used for.
“We should make every legal effort we can to make sure they are aware of it,” said Mr. Cabral.
The board agreed that they should notify residents beyond the direct abutters.
Mr. Noble also noted that the BOH could have simply held a regular meeting to discuss it, but is choosing to go beyond the requirements to notify residents. He said that PJ Keating’s plans are within the new zoning bylaw, so the town is very limited in what it can do to stop it.
“Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean you can prevent it,” said Mr. Noble.
Mr. Cabral made sure it was clear that the permit was pulled after the new bylaw passed.
“This immediately follows that change?” he asked.
Selectboard chairperson Kevin Gaspar affirmed it, noting that this possibility was why he was against the bylaw at town meeting.
Mr. Cabral said there was a “lot of concern in the neighborhood.”
He said he at least wanted to make sure people in town are aware of the change.
Mr. Noble said there is no restriction on sending a postcard notification to everyone in town if the board wants to do it, and pay for it. He said they will put it on the website, which has been re-designed and went live last week.
The Board of Health will set the date for the public hearing and the board will post it on the website, publicize it the local press, and do a mailing to residents.
In another matter, the board decided to send a letter to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), Eversource and Access Northeast to clarify whether or not the proposed expansion to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility on Peckham Road is no longer being pursued.
There has been no movement on the project since it received a couple of setbacks.
If the company withdraws the application, or if FERC closes it, then the process will start all over again.
Mr. Gaspar said it was “unfair” to the town to be left hanging with no answers. He said the issue had “caused division” in the community.
“It’s not healthy for us as a community,” said Mr. Gaspar.
The board will work with the LNG committee to draft a letter.
The board also asked for letters of interest for the town moderator position. The election ended in a tie, leaving the decision to fill the vacancy to the Selectboard.
Park Commissioner Robert St. Jean, Jr., also submitted a letter of resignation, leaving a vacancy on that baord.
Interested Acushnet residents are encouraged to submit letters of interest for Park Commissioner and Town Moderator. Letters should be received by the Selectboard’s Office, 122 Main St., Acushnet, MA 02743, by April 26th at noon.
In other business, the board:
• Approved an agreement for the Animal Control Officer to use the shelter in Lakeville for boarding and adopting dogs;
• Appointed Linda Taylor to the Lake Street Improvement Committee;
• Received a letter from Police Chief Michael Alves informing them that the department received a federal grant of $7,246.34 for bulletproof vests. The grant is a matching 50% reimbursable grant. In his letter, the chief said the state generally matches the other 50%.
Click here to download the entire 4/13/17 issue: 04-13-17 FlashlightEggHunt