Bourne Conservation Commission, Michienzi Agree On Restoration Plan

An agreement was reached between the Bourne Conservation Commission and developer Vincent P. Michienzi on a vegetation restoration plan for property owned by Mr. Michienzi on River Road in Pocasset.

Last month, a contractor hired by Mr. Michienzi to do selective clearing of the property at 13A River Road violated an Order of Conditions issued by the conservation commission in May. The order required a meeting take place between Mr. Michienzi and town conservation agent Brendan C. Mullaney to determine what could be cut down and removed along the property’s coastal bank.

Following that meeting, the contractor reportedly ignored the agreement and cleared the coastal bank to provide a clear view of the Pocasset River.

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At a commission meeting on June 19, members unanimously agreed to issue an enforcement order to Mr. Michienzi requiring that he have a competent professional present a detailed restoration plan. The plan had to include erosion controls at the base of the coastal bank that would be maintained until the entire area is re-vegetated and restored. The plan had to be submitted to the commission within 30 days and was subject to review and approval by the commission.

On Thursday July 24, local contractor Joseph A. Agrillo Jr. appeared before the conservation commission on behalf of Mr. Michienzi and presented the restoration plan for the property. Mr. Agrillo has been hired by Mr. Michienzi to execute the revegetation plan. Both Mr. Agrillo and Mr. Michienzi are newly elected members of the Bourne Planning Board.

Mr. Agrillo told the commission that the revegetation plan includes the replanting of 21 trees of four different indigenous varieties—shadblow serviceberry, Eastern red cedar, pitch pine and white oak.

In addition, 74 shrubs of six varieties would be planted along the riverbank, including summersweet, winterberry, Northern bayberry, beach plum and highbush blueberry, he said. Mr. Mullaney suggested that the emphasis be put on the bayberry and beach plum bushes as they will thrive in that area. It was also suggested that inkberry bushes be included.

Questions were raised as to the size of the trees at the time of planting. Mr. Agrillo said the serviceberry and red cedars were five to six feet high, and the red cedar and oaks were “one and half inch in diameter and breast height.” Some members were initially not satisfied with the height of the new trees given that the trees cut down were “quite tall.”

Commission chairman Robert M. Gray noted that, in time, the trees would grow to a height of 15 feet. He added that replanting trees of the same height as those cut down is not a sound environmental practice.

“The larger the tree you bring in there, the more disturbance to the ground; plus the fact, survivability goes down as the height of the tree increases,” he said.

There were also questions as to what type of oak tree should be planted—red, white or black oak. The commission agreed that red oak is a hardier species and suggested that it be substituted in place of the white oaks in Mr. Agrillo’s plan.

Mr. Agrillo noted that in the aftermath of the wholesale clearing last month, Mr. Michienzi replanted the area with some bushes, native and non-native to the area. Those bushes have been irrigated by a timed watering system on the property set up by Mr. Michienzi, Mr. Agrillo said. He said that those bushes can be relocated or removed at the discretion of the commission.

Mr. Agrillo also mentioned that the original order of conditions for the selective clearing allowed for a “window of view” of the river. He said that the layout of trees in the re-vegetation plan “maintains that window of view.”

Mr. Gray said that he would prefer to see the width of the revegetation along the coastal bank be extended another seven to eight feet to a total of 35 feet.

“I’m just looking for something that would stabilize the coastal bank more and provide a buffer from the top of the coastal bank,” he said.

He also advised Mr. Agrillo to remind Mr. Michienzi of his responsibility to care and maintain the restored vegetation for a period of two growing seasons. If Mr. Michienzi sells his property, the onus of care and maintenance is passed on to the new owners, Mr. Gray said.

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