By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard approved three new aquaculture licenses at its meeting on Monday, 6/4. The meeting was held at the West Island Improvement Association community hall because the board also discussed the emergency preparedness plan, which is traditionally held at that site.
Matthew Loo, who already has a 1+ acre aquaculture farm in Fairhaven, Larry Fowler, and John Mills, were each approved for separate operations.
During the meeting, no one said where the three aquaculture farms were going to be located, except to say that they would not be near residences.
After the public hearing, Harbormaster Tim Cox said the three, two-acre farms would abut each other in Jack’s Cove, near Fish Island, which is on the north side of Goulart Memorial Drive/Causeway Road.
All three have licenses to grow quahogs and oysters, but only Mr. Loo plans on growing oysters. Mr. Fowler and Mr. Mills plan on growing quahogs, although they have the option to change that or mix product under their licenses.
Kayakers and other boat users will not be able to go over the oyster farm because of lines and buoys that allow the oysters to hang in the water.
The quahog farms are ground based, so people will be able to boat over them, but it will be off-limits for shellfishing, as the product will be owned by the aquaculture businesses.
Mr. Mills told the board that he has been quahogging since he was a teenager. A commercial quahog digger now, he said he saw the aquaculture farm as a “natural progression of what I do now.”
He said he is getting older and feels the aquaculture farm will be better suited for him in the next few years.
Mr. Loo said he had the one acre farm and was looking to expand. He said the new area is “vital” to his business for that expansion.
Mr. Fowler said he echoed what Mr. Mills said, that he is getting older, digs commercially and has for years.
“I’m looking for something that I can do down the road,” said Mr. Fowler.
The board approved the provisional licenses, which will also have to be approved by the state. The exact location, buoys/markers, materials used, and other regulations will be overseen by the state and the Harbormaster/Shellfish department.
The initial license will be for two years with a one year extension. Then the three will have to re-apply for license renewals.
The board also discussed the emergency preparedness plan. The plan is being revamped this year, said Deputy Fire Chief Todd Correia.
The board did not go into detail about the plan and its command structure, except to say the fire chief is in charge of calling an emergency, and voting to make that change from the Town Administrator to the chief in a separate agenda item.
The board did not discuss the shelter, or if it will still be at Hastings Middle School. In response to a question from the public, officials did say that the town’s shelter will still not welcome pets, but a regional shelter in New Bedford will allow pets. They said the town is working to get a pet-friendly shelter in place.
Lt. Correia said that most of the changes were done. Three departments, Senior Center/Council on Aging, Recreation Department/Rec Center, and the School Department are still not done, he said due to details of an evacuation plan.
The School Department and the Police Department will be working on threats of violence to the schools all summer.
“It’s not just about hurricanes anymore,” said Lt. Correia, but about violence, rain/flooding, earthquakes, evacuations, and other disasters. “So the plan grows.”
The FD’s webpage has been revamped and now re-routes to the town’s website page. It includes emergency information, including a link for residents to get on the reverse 911 list. Visit https://www. fairhaven-ma.gov/fire-department-ems-ema and click on “CodeRed”
The plan will be available on the website when it is completed.
The board also briefly discussed the need to send out another request for proposals (RFP) for the Rogers School. Town administrator Mark Rees said that town counsel advised creating and publicizing an RFP because the Rogers Committee has a proposal it wants to approve. But the contractor, who is the grandson of Board of Public Works member Mike Ristuccia, who served on the BPW with Daniel Freitas, who is the Selectboard chair and is on the Rogers School Building Committee, is not someone who contacted the town from either of the other two RFPs.
Mr. Freitas said he believed the town did not have to do another RFP, but Mr. Rees said that town counsel Thomas Crotty was very clear that one was needed.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola, who was involved with the previous RFPs and the subsequent efforts to find a taker for the building, explained that the earlier green light to talk to developers about the building, was for those who had contacted the town, not new ones.
Mr. Freitas said he was concerned because the Rogers Committee had already committed to a schedule with the developer. The matter will need to be before Town Meeting. A special TM was scheduled, that same night, for November 13.
In other business, the board:
• Appointed Assistant Town Clerk Carolyn Hurley to be Acting Town Clerk when Eileen Lowney retires on 6/30. Ms. Hurley will have to run for the position in the April 2019 election.
• Approved the appointment of Derek Frates as the new Cable Access Director. He is currently the Cable Access Coordinator for the town of Dartmouth.
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