By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard heard from both the fire chief and the police chief at its meeting on Tuesday, 12/11. The board also heard a proposal for a subdivision at the end of Margaret Street.
Police Chief Michael Alves asked the board to approve hiring Quinn Indio as a part time police officer, but also to allow the chief to hire him full time as soon as he can find an opening at a full time academy. The Chief said Mr. Indio will be the fourth part time officer in the academy for Acushnet. Chief Alves reminded the board that the department has a few openings, including one officer deployed in the military.
Mr. Indio told the board he is a life-long Acushnet resident who attended local public schools. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice.
The process to hire a full time police officer can take up to a year. There are several weeks of testing, including psychological tests, an extensive background check, and the academy, which is about five months.
The board also heard from Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher, who asked the board to approve a consolidation of three licenses held by the PJ Keating quarry, that are for storing flammable materials: asphalt, diesel, and gas. Chief Gallagher said combining the licenses would simplify the process.
The storage area of the materials will be moved due to the proposed changes at the quarry, which include moving the asphalt plant closer to South Main Street. The site plan will have to be approved, said Chief Gallagher, but he has not seen any plans at all. The changes will also trigger public hearings.
Board member Roger Cabral asked if they were “just pretending” it mattered, because he was under the impression that the town was powerless to stop the move.
Chief Gallagher said they may not be able to stop the move, but they can force PJK to keep noise and other nuisances within guidelines or his department could shut them down.
Chief Gallagher also asked the board to send a letter to the state’s congressional delegation asking for an update to the blasting regulations, although he admitted there is a “deregulation mantra in Washington.”
He said the Z curve used to regulate blasts dates back to 1980 by the Bureau of Mines, which no longer exists, and it has not been updated since. The standard is the same for the “Badlands of South Dakota” as it is for South Main Street in Acushnet.
He admitted he was no scientist.
“But we do have common sense,” said the Chief, noting that we know a lot more now, and technology has changed a lot since 1980.
Chief Gallagher also told the board he would like to have the state study the effects of the blasting on gas lines near the quarry. After the accident in Lawrence, he said the state is pursuing more studies and he would like to take advantage of that push.
The fire department is notified of all blasts at the quarry, and they are also recorded. For more information on the Z curve, or to see the blast videos, visit the Soil Conservation Board page on the town’s website at: https://www.acushnet.ma.us/soil-conservation-board
The board also heard a proposal for a subdivision at the end of Margaret Street/Blaise Drive. The proposal will have to be approved by the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals for at least two waivers. The Selectboard will also have to approve the proposal because they are also the Water Commissioners, as the Department of Public Works falls under the jurisdiction of the Selectboard.
Town Planner Henry Young told the board that he and the developer, Dan Moniz/Moniz Estates, were seeking their input, advice and opinions on the proposal. The development is seeking a waiver for access through Blaise Drive, and a waiver for sidewalks in the subdivision. It also calls for extending the water service, but creating a dead end at the cul de sac.
Jeffrey Tallman, project engineer at Sitec, represented the developer and told the board the proposal is for 17 homes, with 66.67 acres protected from development because it is Eastern Box Turtle habitat.
Selectboard chairperson Mike Cioper voiced concern about the waiver for the sidewalks, and the argument that many other developments do not have them. He said the bylaw was enacted for a reason.
“If we don’t start somewhere, we’re never going to start doing them,” said Mr. Cioper.
Board member Roger Cabral also voiced concern about not complying with the subdivision standards, saying that if they were going to grant waivers all the time, they should change the standards.
In addition to the concern about the lack of sidewalks, the board also voiced concern with the 90-degree turn to get into the development.
Residents voiced concern about water pressure changes for surrounding homes that the additional 17 houses might cause.
Board members assured residents that 17 houses would not cause a problem because the area has good pressure to begin with.
Board member Kevin Gaspar said he spoke with DPW director Dan Menard and was assured the pressure would be okay.
“Just keeping my fingers crossed,” said Connie Preston.
Town Administrator Brian Noble suggested that the board run a model, which would only cost a few hundred dollars, and post it online for residents to see for themselves.
The board and Mr. Tallman also discussed the possibility of creating a “loop” for the water so the line will not dead-end. The dead-end water line requires more maintenance.
The proposal is still working its way through the various boards and will go before the Selectboard again.
In other business, the board voted to increase the cost of various building permits and fees, and added a fee for using containers on private property.
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