January 17, 2023 — ZBA issues Decision in Case No. 4077, refuses to enforce the Bylaw despite credible evidence of violations – decision below. Save the Pine Barrens has appealed.
ZBA decision based on erroneous legal opinion that the complaints of the ongoing violations are “too late”
ZBA ignores credible, corroborated evidence that far more than the 4,920 cubic yards was mined — that was the volume Spencer and Land Management Systems claimed in 2015 Planning Board subdivision plan
Spencer represented to Planning Board the subdivision would disturb 5 acres — today, at least 9.5 acres has been disturbed-clear cut and strip mined
The owner and operator of Land Management that did Spencer’s 2015 subdivision plan is now Chair of the Plymouth Conservation Commission
Watch the ZBA’s January 4, 2023 disgraceful “public hearing” on the zoning appeal here – You Tube video — is this a fair and objective ZBA Chairman? The Chair screams at the attorney presenting the appeal
February 27, 2023 – ZBA approves special permit for New Hope Church, ignores comments from public over concerns about past sand and gravel mining on the site.
Planning Board 2015 Definitive Subdivision Plan here — this is a legally binding document
New Hope Church request for special permit and variance
CLWC January 17, 2023 comments to ZBA
Statement of Jimmy Powell describing calculation of volume of earth removed from the Site
On January 17, 2023, the ZBA issued its Decision on the November 29, 2022 appeal of the Town Building Inspector’s denial of a request for enforcement of the earth removal bylaw at the site of the proposed New Hope Church off Long Pond Road. There is a right to appeal within 20 days.
On January 18, 2023, the ZBA held a public hearing on the application of the new owner, New Hope Church, to remove an additional volume of sand and gravel from the site – making a total of about 411,000 cubic yards including what has already been removed. The hearing was more like a circus, with the Chair deciding who could speak and when. Several members of the opposition were verbally berated by the Chair for voicing concerns about sand and gravel removal at the site. You can watch the ZBA meeting here and here.
On February 27, 2023, the ZBA held its final hearing on the request for special permit from New Hope Church. The applicant’s lawyer and architect were allowed to speak for over an hour. However, when the Chair opened up the public hearing, he did not allow any members of the opposition to speak. Under duress, three members of the public voiced concerns about sand and gravel removal on the site, however, they were cut off by the Chair when they brought up the over 344,000 cubic yards of gravel which were previously illegally removed from the site. How is this fair government? How does the Chair have the right to determine who gets to speak and about what topics at a public hearing? New information was brought to light by the applicant and also through research by the public since the last hearing, however members of the public were not allowed to speak.
The ZBA voted unanimously to approve the special permit for New Hope Church.
See the CLWC November 29, 2022 Appeal here. The Appeal asked for a cease and desist on sand and gravel removal, an accounting of the volume of sand and gravel removed, penalties for illegal mining, and restoration of the site.
The approximately 23 acre site abuts conservation land and residences. In 2015, Sheava Development started mining after filing a 5-lot subdivision plan with the Town. This plan was a ruse to put in a road to gain access to lucrative sand and gravel. Sheava never built the 5 houses but took out several hundred cubic yards of sand and gravel.
Sheava sold the land to the New Hope Church. The Church is seeking a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for more earth removal and variances from the zoning bylaw. The ZBA public hearing will be held Jan. 18, 2023.
Prior to the ZBA appeal, CLWC took the first required step of filing a request for enforcement with the Building Inspector. On Nov. 8, 2022 the Building Inspector denied the request for enforcement. This left CLWC with no option but to appeal to the ZBA.
Map showing 12.85 acres where earth removal occurred. 2021.
Photos documenting violations of Zoning Laws: taking out far more than 4,920 cubic yards, clearing trees up to abutting property lines and eliminating required buffers, mining in the groundwater, no erosion controls and more.
Long Pond Road, Sheava Development Earth Removal Site, June 2020 showing excavation on going. New Hope Church bought the land in August, 2020.
On Friday, December 9, the story was covered by 95.9FM WATD, The South Shore’s Radio Station. The story covers Save the Pine Barrens request for enforcement of the bylaw, and the Building Inspector’s refusal. You can read the story here.
The author of the story reached out to Plymouth for a response to the article. According to the author: In a phone call to Building Inspector Nick Mayo asking for a response to this appeal, he said: “a request for enforcement was received at the future site of New Hope Chapel by Meg Sheehan, it was denied.”