Open Letter to the Plymouth Independent
February 12, 2024
This is in response to the Plymouth Independent’s February 9, 2024 story, Neighbors’ fight to stop 55-plus apartment project backfires. The story claims to be about the Claremont Plymouth LLC apartment complex proposed for Colony Place. Instead of being about the facts and the many missteps inside Town Hall that created the controversy, the newspaper plies uninformed gossip from Town officials to make the story about me. I write to correct the story’s false narrative.
The premise of the Independent’s story, “be careful what you wish for, you might get affordable housing in your neighborhood” is just wrong. It claims Claremont is withdrawing its current apartment proposal due to public opposition and replacing it with a bigger “40B” affordable housing that will be worse for Plymouth. The Zoning Board of Appeals already approved a 350-unit complex on the 16-acre site. The threatened “40B” will be almost identical to what the ZBA approved– about 350 units on 16 acres, only with about 25% units as “affordable”. Either way, this will be the densest residential development Plymouth has ever seen. The story provides no evidence – only Town Hall gossip – that Claremont is withdrawing the project. Curiously, the gossip is from pro-development interests that dominate the Town’s boards and their staff.
350 Apartments is 350 Apartments
Claremont admits its plan always has been to build a minimum of 350 units on the 16-acre site. Town officials ought to know this but apparently don’t. ZBA’s permit is contingent on a “development agreement” signed by the Selectboard in secret – but now exposed – that gives Claremont the right to build up to 358 units.
The Colony Place area where Claremont plans the 350 unit complex is overbuilt. The 60-acre area was strip mined in the 1990s. Now it includes three hotels and Hanover at Colony Place, a 320-unit five building “40B” project and the over age-55 Sawyer’s Reach townhouses. The Town’s West Plymouth Water District cannot supply enough water for Claremont’s project or other dense developments. This fact is established in numerous studies commissioned by the Town. In 2022, the Plymouth Selectboard entered into the then secret water deal with Claremont for a temporary water pump, in a meeting the Attorney General found violated the Open Meeting Law.
The real Meg Sheehan versus Town Hall Gossip
Instead of writing about and verifying the critical facts of the story and how the proposed project impacts our water and community, the Independent turned Town Hall gossip and innuendo into an attack on me. Who is the real Meg Sheehan? I am an experienced public interest environmental lawyer with an international reputation. My lifelong professional career has been devoted to campaigning for the public’s right to clean water, clean air and a livable community. I stand with communities making change for the good of all, not the vested interests seeking to exploit the environment. Sometimes this means standing up to Town Hall, speaking truth to power, and holding Town officials accountable by enforcing the law.
Yes, I’m rocking the boat – in Plymouth and other places. This is not for personal gain as the Independent and Town officials imply. Quite the contrary. I donate thousands of hours of free legal services annually and have for decades. My clients are those who face a wall of indifference or worse when they try to speak out at Town halls where key decisions about our water and environment are made. Our collective advocacy makes a difference. As a result, it is no longer “business as usual” for the developers and mining interests exploiting Plymouth. And, the closer one gets to the truth, the more opponents attack.
I am not a real estate developer as the Independent falsely implies. My “family business” is not “Eight Mates LLC” as the Independent claims. The LLC is a multigenerational entity owning lands acquired over the decades. I do not control it and never have.
My Plymouth roots extend back 120 years when my great grandparents, immigrants from Northern Italy, founded what is now L. Knife & Son an affiliate of Sheehan Family Companies. This family business is a pillar of the community, and for over 120 years has provided top paying jobs, benefits and a caring place for thousands of local residents to work. We give back to the community through quiet philanthropy in every way. We have played a key role in conserving thousands of acres of land from Cape Cod to Halifax. In 2017, my parents made an outright donation of almost 300 acres of our family lands and in Plymouth making it the largest single land donation in the Wildlands Trust history. In 2022, we finalized a decades long conservation project in Kingston with Northeast Wilderness Trust and the Native Land Conservancy of Mashpee MA, featured in major news outlets.
What about Hedge Road?
Instead of showing the 350-unit Claremont project that the Independent story claims it is about, the newspaper publishes a misleading marketing brochure of the LLC’s Hedge Road property, falsely claiming this is “pristine” land and saying it was sold. The site includes part of the Cordage Rope Factory and a warehouse where my great grandparents got their start. It is not “pristine.” As for the “coastal wetlands” on the site, Town officials and the Independent ignore the real environmental tragedies of the area’s recent development. First, the ZBA allowed a developer to fill in a stream to put an apartment complex on top of it. Then the ZBA allowed what was the highest hill in the northern part of town to be carved away for condominiums on the beach and refused to public access to the waterfront at the site as required by law. That story is swept under the rug.
Find out more, help protect our water, forests and communities!
My life’s work is inspired by where I grew up: Plymouth’s forests, ponds and people. Since the 1970s, I have worked to raise awareness about the threats to our shared environmental heritage. In response to growing concern about the rapid changes to our beloved region, in 2021 I co-founded Community Land & Water Coalition, a grassroots network of groups and individuals seeking to protect preserve and steward our land and waters. We educate, inform and organize. We provide technical and legal assistance to community members. We’ve been winning since we started. We speak for the environment – and it needs our help.
I invite everyone to join our thriving campaign. Check out our CLWC website and our Sand Wars in Cranberry Country project. Watch our drone videos and educational webinars on You Tube. Join an action team! Call me at 774-260-7864 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As Taylor Swift says, Haters gonna hate, brush them off. I always have, and always will.
February 12, 2024