Carver: Read Custom Soils: “Cranberry” Bait & Switch?

  Katherine Harrelson  AD Makepeace

On Federal Road in Carver, AD Makepeace Co. runs Read Custom Soils, a trucking terminal for its sand and gravel mining operations

In 2012, Makepeace told the state Read was an “Agricultural Project” in order to get MEPA approval

In 2014, Makepeace told Carver’s Planning Board Read was a “manufacturing facility” in order to get town approval

Read is not an agricultural project and is not manufacturing under the Carver zoning bylaw

On April 13, 2023, STPB delivered a demand letter to Carver Building Commissioner to enforce Carver’s zoning to require Makepeace to comply with zoning by getting a permit for a trucking terminal

Introduction

For over 10 years, AD Makepeace Cranberry of Wareham MA has been operating trucking depot called Read Custom Soils at 46 Federal Road in Carver.

The operation shown on the drone video here.

Read is a centralized trucking and freight terminal for processing, weighing, loading, unloading and transshipping of sand and gravel Makepeace extracts off its vast land holdings. Makepeace conducts commercial mining at sites surrounding Read and transports the sand and gravel to Read for processing. Makepeace also extracts sand and gravel from the Read site. Makepeace claims this”agriculture” and for Carver zoning that it is a “manufacturing” facility. It is neither.

Read is known as the largest aggregate mining sales and distribution center in the Northeast. According to Makepeace’s CEO the company employs 60 independent truckers to ship aggregate materials from Read and other locations to at least 10 asphalt and concrete manufacturers throughout New England, other industrial and commercial customers and some cranberry bogs. (Some past and present members of the Carver Earth Removal Committee buy sand from Read.) Makepeace’s operation of this freight and trucking terminal violates the Carver Bylaw.

Background

In 2008, Makepeace, once only a cranberry grower, deliberately pivoted from cranberry agriculture to development due to the poor economics of the cranberry industry. Makepeace claims it is the state’s largest landowner with about 12,000 acres in Southeastern Massachusetts. To get state approvals to develop its vast landholdings, Makepeace told the public the development would be “sustainable” with “open space” and conservation land interlaced with smart growth neighborhoods. Makepeace dubbed this plan the “Tihonet Mixed Use Development”. The company did not follow through.

The Cranberry Bait & Switch

Below: location of Read in the “heart of its endless supply of soils” as it brags on its website.

For the TMUD, in 2008/9 Makepeace entered into a special deal with the state under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) for a “lite” level of environmental review. Today Makepeace’s lands are a vast swarth of industrial mining and solar – not open space and smart growth as promised. Makepeace promised to put “thousands” of acres of land into conservation. In March, 2021, AD Makepeace’s CEO told Wareham officials the companies’ conservation efforts “have resulted in the permanent protection of over 1,800 acres”. As of March 2023, Makepeace has not documented this. Some say the company is triple dipping using the same acre of conservation land mitigation to three different towns for different projects.

Read is part of the bait and switch.

As part of the TMUD development plan, Makepeace told MEPA and the public that Read, a gravel company it bought in about 2010, would be an “agricultural project.” The Environmental Notification Form stating this is below. Its consultant Beals+Thomas labeled Read part of the “Phase C 2” of the TMUD. Makepeace identified Read as an agricultural “soil blending facility” implying that its cranberry farming requires excavating sand and gravel, processing it, and selling it for profit. To defend this myth, in 2022 Makepeace claimed its aggregate mining was an “outgrowth” of cranberry growing.

Below: Except from AD Makepeace “Environmental Notification Form” prepared by the consulting firm Beals+Thomas to MEPA, October 30, 2012 saying Read, the “soil blending facility” is a “Agricultural” project.

It its environmental report, Makepeace told MEPA Read needed to be sited at 46 Federal Road in Carver to have easy access to its several hundred acres it in Plymouth to the east over the Wankinko River, also part of the TMUD C2 phase, that it would strip mine as “cranberry agriculture” This is the Frogfoot strip mine for 7 million cubic yards of sand and gravel that Makepeace now calls the “Farm of the Future”. This is shown on the map below.

Town of Carver Planning Board, 2014

In 2013 and 2014, Makepeace arranged with Carver to rezone the Read site to “Industrial”. Then it applied to the Carver Planning Board for site plan review and a special permit for a “manufacturing” facility. Makepeace and its engineer, GAF Engineering told the Board they would build a facility to “manufacture” pre-mixed soils with several buildings, employee parking, an office and stormwater systems. The Planning Board granted the approvals. Makepeace has not built the “manufacturing” facility. It operates Read from sheds and Quonset huts on the site. See the plans and permit here.

Hundreds of trucks a daily have been leaving Read for over a decade. This video shows 106 trucks in 14 minutes coming from Read and Makepeace’s pits on Federal Road.

To get the Read approval from Carver, Makepeace paid for traffic study that conveniently “concluded that the Project will result in a minimal increase in traffic serving the Project site (approximately one (1) additional vehicle every 2 to 3 minutes)….” This was misleading.

At the September 16, 2014 Planning Board public hearing, the Town Planner “said he can expedite the widening of Cranberry Road to accommodate a bike lane”. Local residents appeared at the hearings citing concerns about traffic and safety, and Makepeace agreed it would put in bike lane. The Town Planner said the bike lane would be funded by Makepeace’s “earth removal fee” for extracting sand and gravel under the Earth Removal Bylaw, not by separate funds that would mitigate for the impacts of operating Read. Earth removal fees are used to fix the road damage caused by Read’s trucks. There is no net benefit to the Town from the fees: there would be no need to fix the roads if the trucks weren’t destroying them. There is no bike lane. For years, excessive truck traffic has caused dangerous traffic conditions on Federal Road and surrounding roads. Listen to this police report of an accident. The Town of Carver does nothing about this.

Today: no agriculture, no “manufacturing facility”

In its 2022 MEPA filing (FEIR) Makepeace’s consultant Beals+Thomas admitted the Read “manufacturing” facility does not exist:

“The soil blending facility was originally proposed to include an office and work space building and associated parking, a covered bin and pallet storage area with an adjacent concrete mixing pad area, a finished material storage building and associated covered areas for blending and storage, a dry-sand storage structure and associated concrete pad for drying sand and a scale. Although the soil blending facility is currently operational, the previously proposed full build-out, which included several buildings totaling 34,450 sf, as well as a 67,140 sf open canopy roof system, has not been undertaken.” Page 1-13.

Further, not one of the projects Read brags about on its website is “agricultural” — they are golf courses, athletic fields, urban roads. The “soil blending” operation is not for cranberry bogs as Makepeace represented to MEPA.

There’s not one mention of “agriculture” on Read’s “About” page which recently disappeared off its website. The “About” page is here now.

Who’s kidding who?

On April 13, 2023, Community Land and Water Coalition delivered a request for enforcement of the zoning bylaw to the Carver Building Commissioner for Read’s violations of the Bylaw.

Below: Demand for Enforcement Letter

Below: Site plan from GAF Engineering to Carver Planning Board, 2014 showing work area. The area in 2023 is much larger.

Read Invoices (found on the side of the road)

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