Bourne Planning Board Member Cited

Bourne Planning Board member Vincent P. Michienzi has been cited by the Bourne Conservation Commission for violating an Order of Conditions issued to him by the commission. Mr. Michienzi removed more trees along the coastal bank at property he owns on River Road in Pocasset than the order allowed.

Mr. Michienzi was granted a permit to build a new house on the property at 13A River Road, which he plans to sell. The wholesale clearing of the trees and vegetation has resulted in a clear view of the Pocasset River for whomever buys the land and new house.

At the commission’s meeting June 19, town conservation agent Brendan C. Mullaney explained that the Order of Conditions, issued to Mr. Michienzi on May 1, stipulated “the applicant or his representative needed to meet with me at the site to determine which trees were to be removed.” That meeting did take place, on June 5, and at that time it was decided that only a couple of trees at the top of the coastal bank fronting the river could be taken down.

Mr. Mullaney said that he received a phone call on Friday, June 13, telling him about significant clearing that had taken place at Mr. Michienzi’s property.

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“All the scrub vegetation that was on it or in close proximity of the coastal bank was basically cleared and almost all of the cedar and pine trees were cleared,” he said.

Mr. Michienzi apologized and said there had been a misunderstanding on the part of the contractor he hired to do the clearing as to what was to be removed, Mr. Mullaney said. Mr. Michienzi told Mr. Mullaney that the contractor had interpreted TOCB, an acronym for “top of coastal bank” which had been placed in areas not to be touched, as instead meaning “to be cut.”

“That’s what I was told. Apparently I just fell off the turnip truck,” Mr. Mullaney said.

It was also pointed out to the commission that Mr. Michienzi replanted the area that had been cleared. Mr. Mullaney said that no plan for re-planting the area had been filed with his department, and Mr. Michienzi or the contractor “probably got what was in the native plant section of the local nursery and planted those.”

Hay bales and a silk fence had also been placed at the site. However, the hay bales were not installed properly and the fence was not installed at all, Mr. Mullaney said.
Commission member Elizabeth R. Kiebala took exception to Mr. Michienzi re-planting the area without checking with the commission as to whether the plants he chose would be appropriate.

“That’s not right either. That’s another violation as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Commission member Robert M. Gray said there was no evidence of an irrigation system and expressed concern for the long-term survival of the recent plantings.

“We’ve got another hot week coming next week and then we’re into July, and if you put in all those plants…they’re not going to live. You got to water them,” he said.

Mr. Mullaney added that the very first sentence in the previous order of conditions stated, “clear cutting of trees within vista window [view of the river] is not allowed by this order; an onsite pre-construction meeting must be held between project proponent or representative and conservation agent to determine limit of selective clearing.”

“That’s as clear as day as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Mr. Gray suggested that the commission had several options, including revoking the original order of conditions which would nullify Mr. Michienzi’s construction permit and prevent him from building on the property. Mr. Gray said that instead he would rather present Mr. Michienzi with an enforcement order that would require a vegetation restoration plan.

“If he follows through on the restoration plan, all well and good. If he doesn’t, you still have the ability to go back and say ‘we’re not satisfied,’” he said.

Mr. Gray added that he would like to monitor the area for two to three growing seasons to ensure that the new plantings are healthy and thriving. Responsibility for maintenance of the newly planted area would begin with Mr. Michienzi and then fall to whoever purchases the property from him.

“If they buy the property, they buy the problem,” Mr. Gray said.

“The Order of Conditions continues to the successor of the property,” Mr. Mullaney said.

The commission unanimously agreed to issue an enforcement order to Mr. Michienzi that contains the following stipulations:

• Erosion controls must be installed at the base of the coastal bank and maintained until the entire area is restored and re-vegetated.

• A detailed restoration plan, prepared by a competent professional, must be prepared and submitted to the Conservation Commission for approval.  The commission will make specific requirements for the restoration upon review of the plan.

• No other work that was approved by the Order of Conditions, including the construction of any structures, is allowed until the restoration plan is submitted, reviewed, and approved by the commission.

• The restoration plan must be submitted within 30 days of receipt of the Enforcement Order by the project proponent.

Mr. Michienzi did not attend the June 19 meeting, nor was anyone there to represent him

Comments

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  • Gadfly

    This is not an unusual occurrence in waterfront areas. Sure, "he made a mistake". Or his contractor did. Sounds familiar. This falls under the category of "it's easier to ask foregiveness than ask permission". The best thing is, the order of conditions runs with the property. The new owner of the property will cut a hard deal when he buys it if he's smart. Or walk away, even smarter.