Salisbury Beach proposal

An architect's rendering of the proposed 300-plus apartment complex on Salisbury Beach.

SALISBURY — The developers behind a planned 235-unit Salisbury Beach housing complex say they will appeal a recent decision by the Conservation Commission.

The commission voted not to approve Big Block Development Group’s planned $130 million One Oceanfront condominium/apartment complex at the corner of Broadway and Oceanfront South during a virtual public hearing May 20.

At the heart of the commission’s decision was Big Block’s intention to build a 34,000-square-foot restoration sand dune along the eastern edge of the property that commissioners did not think would be able to mitigate flooding in line with Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act performance standards.

Wayne Capolupo, managing partner for Big Block Development Group, said Thursday he and his partners intend to appeal the commission's decision to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"The commission has incorrectly interpreted the regulations of the Wetlands Protection Act to require us to do things that are significantly greater than that which is actually required," Capolupo said. "Regulations only require that you don't make the current situation any worse than it is."

Big Block’s planned sand dune is designed to provide protection from catastrophic storms, not only for the proposed housing complex, but surrounding structures as well, he said.

"This would run the entire length of Oceanfront South," Capolupo said. "It would start where the building starts and then run under the building. So you wouldn't see it if you were looking at it from a bird's-eye view. But if you are on the street level, you would see this built-up berm or dune of sand on the underside of the building."

Big Block's restorative dune plan "dramatically improves" the storm management profile for Salisbury Beach Center, Capolupo said 

"This is for that one storm which occurs every 50 or 100 years where the water just busts through everything else and this is the last line of defense," he said. "But even if this berm ultimately fails as well, we have still dramatically improved the situation there because the water then just sheet flows across the remaining garage area. Then, the energy is dissipated over a wide area. Right now, the water runs right down Oceanfront South like a river."

Capolupo said he and his partners believe they have met Wetlands Protection Act performance standards and have been told by their consultants and attorneys they have a "very good basis" for an appeal.

"The Wetlands Protection Act calls for the free flow of sand and water so that you can let it come and go, rather than build essentially a seawall trying to stop it," Capolupo said. "We have already gone above and beyond what the regulations require. They would like us to do more and we have done all that we can to create as much impervious area as possible. But there is no way to do any more than that. We respectfully disagree with their decision.”

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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