by Tanna Kasperowicz
Attorney Charles Humphreys, acting on behalf of Khemphet Ted) Ford and
C. Christopher (Chris) Ford and their property located at 559 Jerusalem
Road, Cohasset, filed an appeal to Norfolk Superior Court last month.
The Fords are asking the court to:
Annul the Decision of the Cohasset Conservation Commission denying
the Stormwater Management Permit and Conditions and enter a judgment
ordering the Cohasset Conservation Commission to issue a Stormwater
Permit and Conditions in the form and substance of the proposed Stormwater
Permit and Conditions.
At last Thursday’s ConCom meeting the commission voted to reconsider its
vote on the Ford’s permit at its August 16th meeting. It is not clear what the Cohasset Conservation (ConCom) commission is doing. Perhaps it is just doing some remedial legal work in order to be in better standing before going to Superior Court. But no, it appears Town Counsel has had had a serious sit-down talk with ConCom, the Town appears ready to deal.
Several ConCom members who voted to deny the project on May 17th,
had not attended all of the required public hearings nor had they filed any
affidavits that they had reviewed prior proceedings and reviewed relevant
information before voting. Surely, those members will have to take care of their little problem before their planned meeting on August 16th at 8:25 at which point they will meet to reconsider their vote. Or not.
The Conservation Commission has held five separate public hearings on
this property: January 5, January 19, February 16, April 15 and May 3rd.
At one point during this period of time the Conservation Commission
questioned the Sewer Commission on whether it had legally given 550
Jerusalem Road a sewer permit. Sewer Commissioners said the permit was
Humphreys says his client has met all Stormwater and Wetlands
requirements and feels the Conservation Commission’s denial is arbitrary and is in excess of its authority. Sure looks that way.
His clients appealed the ConCom’s decision to both Superior Court and
the Department of Environmental Protection; DEP made an on-site
inspection recently. I attempted to reach Conservation Commission
Chair Jack Creighton the specifics the commission would review but he did
not reply to my E-mail.
Humphreys said his client has produced numerous studies for
the ConCom: engineering plans, drainage studies, and wildlife habitat
evaluations. The Fords propose to plant 2,000 sq. feet of native plantings,
install an erosion control barrier at the limit of work, install crushed
stone leaching trenches along the driveway to rain gardens. A shadow
study is underway, Humphreys told commissioners. Also, height
calculations of the building, a study showing the order of the progression
of the work to be done and project completion estimations. Humphreys
said no other applicant in Cohasset has had to produce the number of studies
with which the Ford’s have been subjected.
Peter DeCaprio, an abutter to 559 Jerusalem Road, and his attorney,
Jay Talerman of the firm Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead were present at
the meeting. Talerman told ConCom that it would win in Superior Court which always sides with the Town and that DEP’s opinion wouldn’t count and that Town Counsel need not even show up to win. “You won’t have to spend
a nickel on Town Counsel.” Further, Talerman said that the Fords, should
withdraw their appeal to the court so everyone can start at ground zero.
“They can file any time they want.”
Chris Ford asked the commissioners if there was anything specific to respond
DeCaprio, said he would be happy to produce affidavits proving that the
Fords were preparing to sell the land as a lot, not as a house.
Ford said he was in the real estate business for years and that he had
solicited information regarding the same, but that was not the issue here
and he was proceeding to build a single family home.
Atty. Humphreys, in response to Talerman, said it was never easy
to predict what any court of law would do. But it was his opinion the
court would be very interested in any opinion from the Department of
Environmental Affairs regarding this issue.
Creighton said everyone should want to help Cohasset as a town win.
Talerman said the level of review in this matter has to expand, particularly
as it pertained to wildlife in the area. Again he told the ConCom “You have
no true fear of losing. Superior Court doesn’t issue order of conditions.”
He told the ConCom it should review all the issues, “but not with litigation
hanging over your head.”
Creighton said there is a legal procedure through which the Fords
could withdraw their appeal.
David Farrag, ConCom vice chair, said “Town Counsel is looking into
Patrick Kennedy, newly appointed associate member of the ConCom told the ConCom that any Superior Court action would be substantial, financially.
“We should minimize the impact.”
Humphreys said he had spoken to the Acting Town Manager. “He’s trying to reduce Town Counsel’s expenses.”
Creighton said “We don’t want remand.”
Humphreys said: “There are many ways to accomplish this.”