By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Tuesday 9/14 the Acushnet Selectboard discussed the organization of the Soil Board and discussed how the board will run and the bylaw associated with the board.
Select board member Kevin Gaspar was absent from the meeting. The board first appointed resident Courtney White to the Cultural Council, Preservation Committee, and the Historical Commission.
The board also approved of The Charles River Wheelers Cranberry Century Bike Ride to be allowed to ride through the town on October 3. Selectboard Chairperson David Desroches said if anyone is interested in participating in the ride to contact Kevin Marion.
In another matter the board discussed issues at the parking lot at 14 Thomas Street, the Emergency Management Agency building. Mr. Desroches said that the parking lot is for EMA staff, but lately residents from nearby houses have been using the lot for their own personal parking. Mr. Desroches said that it has been requested that they put signs up saying that the lot is restricted parking.
The board voted unanimously to install “restricted parking” signs in the lot.
In another matter the board discussed the organization of the Soil Board. Mr. Desroches explained that the Selectboard members will all be part of the Soil Board. He suggested that the Soil Board and Selectboard parallel each other with Mr. Desroches remaining the Chairperson on both boards and David Wojnar being Vice-Chairperson on both.
The board voted unanimously to make Mr. Desroches the Chair of the Soil Board and Mr. Wojnar Vice-Chair.
The board also appointed Conservation Agent Pat Hannon as the enforcement officer of the Soil Board.
Mr. Hannon explained to the board that the newly updated Soil Board bylaw has more detailed definitions of what the elements of the earth are, as well as rules and fees if rules are violated.
Mr. Wojnar said he did not want to see the paving company PJ Keating close because of the updated bylaw, but added he would like to see them follow the rules and be good neighbors to the residential houses surrounding their company.
Mr. Wojnar said he loved the jobs PJ Keating has brought to Acushnet, but the company needs to be good neighbors and the residents in that area need to be happy and have a good quality of life.
Mr. Wojnar explained that he wanted to make sure they have the tools in place to allow PJ Keating to remain in operation but also hold them accountable in ways that everyone knows what the rules are.
He added that there has to be rules and fees for structure, hours of operation and levy fines. The bylaw, he said, will be how they handle PJ Keating moving forward.
Mr. Hannon said that there is a $300 a day fine in place for violations. For example, if PJ Keating violates the operating hours every day for 30 days that would be a $9000 fine.
Town Resident Kevin Smith voiced some concern. He explained that he lives on Lawson Avenue near PJ Keating and he hopes that with these fines it will make the company take notice.
Mr. Smith said he was all for the jobs that the company provides, but PJ Keating does not care about the neighbors. He said that the neighbors want an air quality study done because there are at least four or five neighbors that have cancer or some kind of breathing problem.
Because of Covid they have been dealing with the issue for over two years with no resolution in sight. He said the neighbors would just like updates on what is happening. Mr. Smith said he understood that it is a process, but if the town could give updates to the neighbors it would be appreciated.
Mr. Desroches said it is a step by step process and all the concerns are being addressed. He added that the work is being done, but it takes time. PJ Keating has been banned from operating/mining and have not blasted since October.
Mr. Smith said that there are still trucks in and out hauling stone and making dust in the air. He said they don’t want PJ Keating to close, they just want them to be good and considerate neighbors.
Mr. Hannon said that has received a grant to get eight air monitors to do an air quality study, and he is hoping that will start in October.
Mr. Desroches said the soil bylaw is the first step to addressing all the concerns and the process is well underway.
The board also tabled a discussion on a Right of First Refusal/Chapter 61A land on Robinson Road.
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