Wareham: MEPA allows AD Makepeace to misrepresent damage to the environment, evade review of sand and gravel for solar

  CLwpBS  AD Makepeace

In 2021, groups challenged Makepeace’s environment review, saying the company misrepresented environmental impacts by refusing to disclose sand and gravel mining operation

MEPA gave Makepeace a free pass, allowing the company to evade environmental review for sand and gravel mining in Wareham

In 2009, AD Makepeace struck a special deal with the state “MEPA” office under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act for the development of its vast landholdings in Plymouth, Carver and Wareham. The 6,500 acre area is called the “Tihonet Mixed Use Development” (TMUD) area. Makepeace was supposed to development residential, commercial and “light industrial” uses in the TMUD area. Industrial scale aggregate and sand and gravel mining operations do not qualify. But this is what Makepeace is doing.

MEPA requires large projects to undertake an environmental review and to “minimize and mitigate” damage to the environment. Makepeace got a lower level of MEPA review in the TMUD area in exchange for promises to put at least 1,600 acres of land in conservation. Makepeace has done a massive bait and switch, pivoting to strip mining and solar. It has reneged on the promises.

In 2021, a network of groups filed Notice of Project Change (NPC) request with MEPA asking the Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs to find that “ADM has knowingly concealed material facts and submitted false information during MEPA review and segmented the Project.” Our NPC document details cover-ups and half-truths by Borrego Solar and ADM in MEPA reports: misrepresenting or not reporting earth removal operations and a list of other material changes in the project. In Massachusetts, deception by half-truths constitutes fraud.

MEPA ignored repeated calls to require Makepeace to fully disclose the “Damage to the Environment” from its mining operations in the area covered by the Special Review Procedure.”

Makepeace’s three proposed ground-mounted solar projects in Wareham will cause more Damage to the Environment under MEPA. So far, Makepeace’s 10 solar projects in the TMUD area alone have destroyed about 300 acres of forested lands by clear-cutting and strip mining.

This two minute video shows this pristine, globally rare Pine Barrens on the shores of the Wankinko River and Tihonet Pond – all on unceded Native Wampanoag land. The project will result in a take of rare species.

The state’s Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) requires review of all solar projects that meet certain thresholds and that involve State Action. Solar developers are sidestepping the review by various means including unlawfully breaking the projects into parts.

On May 24, 2021, over 450 individuals and multiple groups submitted comments to MEPA demanding a full EIR on the three Wareham projects. The state rejected this request.

The comments can be viewed here:

March 15, 2020 Environmental Notification Form

Makepeace’s three proposed Wareham projects will destroy about 190 acres of pristine Pine Barrens forest, exterminating rare ecosystems, wildlife and trees and plants. The Town of Wareham had the right of first refusal to buy the land in 2021, but the Board of Selectmen refused to act. Over 300 people wrote letters urging the Board to use its powers to preserve the land.

Here are the 3 solar locations in Wareham

27 Charge Pond Road, Wareham 44 acres

AD Makepeace Site Phase 10

140 Tihonet Road, 76 acres

1-2 million cubic yards of earth removal

AD Makepeace Site Phase 11

150 Tihonet Road, 67 acres

AD Makepeace Site Phase 12

Earth Removal TBD

Background on the Makepeace Tihonet Mixed Use Development (TMUD)

Working together, Makepeace and Borrego have already clear-cut and strip mined at least 300 acres of globally rare Pine Barrens forest the last ten years. The rates of deforestation in the region are some of the highest in the state.

Map courtesy of PFPI, May 2021

The maps below show some of the strip mine and land based solar projects within the AD Makepeace “Tihonet Mixed Use Development.” Under a special deal with the state, AD Makepeace gets to develop the TMUD area over 25 years, starting in about 2009, sidestepping normal environmental impact studies. The TMUD was supposed to be a residential, commercial and “light industrial” development. Now it is a nightmare landscape of hundreds of acres of strip mined land where sand and gravel operations have taken down the highest hills to ground level. Hundreds of acres of land based solar is being installed.

The strip mining and solar projects across the TMUD and Southeastern Massachusetts is Why here in Southeastern Massachusetts? Because we are the sacrifice zone for the state’s renewable energy policy. The earth removal industry operates with impunity.

Federal Road: Strip mining operation and solar installation, AD Makepeace & Borrego Solar, March 30, 2021

Once a quaint cottage industry, cranberry giants like AD Makepeace wield undue political power. Makepeace is violating the Carver earth removal bylaws on a daily basis. The Town refuses to stop the destruction. In Wareham, AD Makepeace has been allowed to conduct earth removal activities without permits — and never even applied for them. Instead, CEO Kane says

The Wareham Board of Selectmen is charged with issuing Earth Removal Permits. The Chair of the Board of Selectmen, Peter Teitelbaum, Esq. has confirmed in writing via an email that the Board never issued any earth removal permits to AD Makepeace. We have done public records requests for all Earth Removal Permits issued to AD Makepeace by the Town of Wareham. We got this letter from Chair Teitelbaum. And no permits for any other projects.

AD Makepeace and Borrego Solar strip mine and land based solar site, Carver MA, Feb. 2021

Wareham has two environmental justice communities. Where is the state’s environmental justice policy? In addition, Indigenous Wampanoag cultural sites are being systematically destroyed with the complicity of MEPA and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Where is the social and environmental justice here?

Why are regulators and politicians allowing precious environmental and cultural heritage to be destroyed before our eyes by reckless and unnecessary industrial strip mines and land based solar?

What have all the studies of the rare Southeastern Massachusetts Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens actually accomplished?

It is time to do something. It is almost too late.

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