Plymouth: EJ Pontiff – PA Landers mining operation continues under the ruse of agriculture off Firehouse Road

  CLwpBS  AD Makepeace

Public hearing on STPB enforcement request: Monday March 20, 7 p.m. Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals

Does this look like “cranberry agriculture” or industrial sand and gravel mining?

Above: Pontiff industrial sand and gravel mining operation, March 2022. Below: Dec. 13, 2022.

January 26, 2023: Community Land & Water Coalition filed an appeal of the Building Commissioner’s refusal to enforce the Plymouth Zoning Bylaw to stop EJ Pontiff’s relentless expansion of an illegal mining operation.

The Site is located off Firehouse Road on White Island Pond near the Wareham border. This project — like so many the others the ZBA and Carver Earth Removal Committee have given “earth removal permits” is a stand alone mining operation being done under the ruse of “cranberry agriculture.”

See the appeal below. It documents that Pontiff used cranberry agriculture as a ruse, the project does not meet the standards under state law for an “incidental” cranberry agriculture use, that Pontiff is mining in the Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer and has destroyed priority habitat designated under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.

The ZBA must schedule a public hearing on the appeal.

The Site abuts the Red Brook development where Pontiff is building “Extra-Spacious Single-Family Homes” labeled “Cranberry Cove” in partnership with the region’s largest sand and gravel mining operator, AD Makepeace. When will the Town of Plymouth connect the dots between the sand and gravel industry’s illegal mining operations and its marketing scams to cover up their environmental destruction?

Excerpt from the CLWC ZBA appeal:

“The Pontiff “tailwater pond” is not “incidental” agricultural excavation and never was. Therefore, it is and continues to be a land use being conducted in violation of the Bylaw. In other words, it is an ongoing prohibited use of residentially zoned land for an industrial sand and gravel mining operation in a residential district.  There is no statute of limitations for an illegal land use: there is “an open-ended period to attach uses that are violative of local zoning provisions or an original building permit [in this case, a special permit] and that cannot properly claim grandfathered status.” Bobrowski, Massachusetts Land Use and Planning Law, § 7.05.

STPB presented the Building Commissioner with credible evidence that Pontiff’s “tailwater pond” is and was a ruse to remove the highest hill on his property to extract sand and gravel worth about $ 9 million, in concert with P.A. Landers, Inc., whose business façade claims it is a “supplier of sand to the cranberry industry with our own working sand pits.” Website, accessed 1/24/2023.      

The Building Commissioner erred in failing to conduct an investigation and blatantly ignored credible evidence of ongoing violations of the permit and the Bylaw.”

Before: Map, 2016: Pontiff Mining Site off Firehouse Road before Plymouth ZBA “earth removal permit” under the ruse of a “cranberry reservoir”

After: Map, 2021: Pontiff Mining Site off Firehouse Road underway with 2018 Plymouth ZBA “earth removal permit” under the ruse of a “cranberry reservoir”

See the ZBA permit application and EJ Pontiff earth removal plans here.

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