HALIFAX– Two hearings dominated a multi-hour Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, June 14, in Halifax. Scott Clawson, of Fieldstone Farms was there to finish up a consent agreement with the town that has been in the works for months, but instead got verbally excoriated by the Board for the better part of an hour. A representative from the Morse Brothers, Inc. for an earth removal permit also drew a crowd, and that hearing was lengthy as well.
actions yet again
Scott Clawson, proprietor of Fieldstone Farms, was called before the Board earlier this year for advertising more horse-shows on his property than were allowed in a decades-old consent agreement he has with the town.
At that period in time, the Board chose to verbally admonish him, and then take up his request to modify the old consent agreement to one which would allow him to, amongst other things, hold more horse shows.
He has been represented by an attorney for most of the process.
This week, a 600-gallon unpermitted diesel-fuel tank, used for equipment fuel, was found on Clawson’s property. The Fire Chief issued a cease-and-desist order, but inspections with the state need to now be done to make sure no leakage occurred.
Clawson insisted he didn’t know that he needed a permit for the tank, and that it had been there a very long time. He promised to fix the problem.
The Board was incensed. Selectman Kim Roy appeared beside herself with anger. Fumbling for words, she eventually got out, “This is just very, very disappointing,” and “I’m angry. I really wanted to make this work. I really did…but…you’ve lost me at this point.”
The Board drove home the point that Clawson does not seem to follow rules ahead of time, only after he has been caught breaking them does he follow up and fix problems. The Board has a long history with him and this type of behavior, they say.
Selectmen Chairman Troy Garron, who repeatedly attempted to move the conversation along but was interrupted by his fellow selectmen, eventually stated that he, “doesn’t get angry,” but looked Clawson in the eye and said, “I don’t trust you.”
These were strong words for Garron, the longest serving member of the Board, who is known for choosing his words carefully.
“Not everyone’s perfect,” replied Clawson, later.
Not surprisingly, Clawson’s consent agreement was tabled for another day (June 22), but not before he had angered one of his neighbors so much that he stormed out of the room, and visibly irritating all members of the Board of Selectmen.
Earth Removal permit for Morse Brothers, Inc.
A representative from GAF engineering, Bill Madden, came before selectmen to present a proposed earth removal permit to the Board and to the public. The permit is being sought by the Morse Brothers, Inc. for their cranberry operation to the west of the West Monponsett pond.
The cranberry growers claim that in order to produce a greater yield, more air circulation is needed around their bogs, and that a particular hill also blocks morning sunlight on a particular area of bogs, which is necessary to remove dew and prevent rot, said Madden.
To mitigate this issue, Morse Brothers, Inc. would like to remove 41,600 cubic yards of earth from a hill in the center of the bogs.
This would result in 1,660 round (truck) trips from the bog at the end of Lingan Street 7/10 of a mile to Route 58.
But, the representative did not know where the dirt was going, although they have a contractor in mind. Without that knowledge, the town and Morse Brothers, Inc. cannot calculate a mutually agreeable limit on how many truck trips could be capped a day to minimize detrimental effects to neighbors.
Several abutters noted that Morse Brother’s, Inc. have been good neighbors in the past, so concerns were mostly of a practical nature.
But, they were concerned about the narrow nature of Lingan Street, vibrations that could damage their foundations or that of the street, and the sheer number of truck trips proposed, especially concerning those with young children.
Others wanted to make sure that there would be no effect on Monponsett Lake.
The hearing was continued until July 12, when more information can be presented and questions answered.
• The Board of Selectmen will next meet on Wednesday June 22, at 6:30 p.m., Town Hall