, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 20, 2013

Important meeting on PI project Wednesday

A key meeting involving Plum Island is scheduled for Wednesday morning, when members of the state Department of Environmental Protection are slated to be on site to review plans for replacing a waterfront house at 36 Fordham Way.

A dwelling there was owned by Harry Trout, but it was destroyed and removed as a result of winter storms.

Trout has filed a request with town officials to build another house there but the DEP recently filed a notice of intervention regarding the application.

A memo to Trout said “DEP shall assume jurisdiction over this project and will make a determination as to whether the area on which the proposed work is to be done is significant to the interests identified in the (Wetlands Protection) Act.”

Newbury town officials have been sympathetic to homeowners along the beachfront, and after the last of the winter storms they said they would be supportive of homeowners who wanted to rebuild.

But the DEP appears to be saying that it wants to inspect the dunes and the beach before final building permits can be extended by the town.

The “notice of intervention” filed by the state could be a notification of trouble for homeowners on Fordham Way and Annapolis Way.

Top DEP leaders might be saying to town officials that replacing houses that have been lost, even if they are now elevated, does not represent a long-time solution.

The DEP has approved (on a limited basis) sand mining. But what state environmental leaders want is long-term approaches to the problem of diminishing dunes

(An aside: Your Scribe would like to report that through use of crafty - but probing - questioning, he teased out remarks from DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmel that he might not have intended to make. But here is what the commissioner told me in a phone interview in mid-April: “I hope you can make it clear to your readers that we are willing to be flexible but we want town officials and residents to know this (sand mining) is short-term and they have got to begin working on long-term solutions right away.”)

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