Health Agent Investigating Refuse On Thomas Landers Road Property
By: Brent Runyon
The Thomas B. Landers Road property of Matthew E. Handley, who has filed complaints against town officials, is being investigated by the Falmouth health department as a possible illegal dumping ground.
Falmouth Health Agent David W. Carignan said he is investigating whether there are hazardous materials buried on the 4.5-acre property at 710 Thomas B. Landers Road.
The investigation into dumping on the property has not concluded, Mr. Carignan said. “I would have to say that’s an investigation that is ongoing,” Mr. Carignan said.
The site does not appear to be an active dumping ground, Mr. Carignan said, but he is investigating whether dangerous materials were discarded there at some point. “Old stuff is still dangerous stuff, possibly,” he said. “People bury things for a reason, but it doesn’t necessarily wash away the error of their ways.”
Mr. Carignan said he first became aware of the site several weeks ago, but there is more he intends to follow up on. “There may be something there, but we are waiting for more information,” he said. He declined to be more specific about the new information.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has been informed of the investigation, said spokesman Edmund Coletta, although there has been no official report filed.
“According to the local folks, this is old material,” Mr. Coletta said. “A lot of it is buried and there is vegetation growing around it and some stuff through it, but there is no indication that it was recent.”
This is harassment. The Town of Falmouth is harassing us... This is slanderous.
- Matthew Handley
But Mr. Handley denied that there are dangerous materials on his property. “There is nothing that is buried on the property that is hazardous or toxic,” Mr. Handley said.
Mr. Handley said his family has owned the property for more than 30 years. The property is owned by the Noel Family Trust.
Mr. Handley said he thought there might have been a tank with hydraulic fluid for trucks stored on his property, but he later checked the tank and found it was empty. There were no holes in the tank and no fluid leaked into the ground, he said. He has since removed the tank, he said. There were about 15 tires in a storage area on his property, which he said he took to a transfer station this week.
Over the years, other people have illegally dumped items on his property without his knowledge, he said.
Handley Unaware of Investigation
Mr. Handley said he was unaware of any investigation before being contacted by the Enterprise on Monday. “If the Town of Falmouth is concerned about it, then I will make it a top priority to remove it this week,” Mr. Handley said.
There is an ongoing dispute between Mr. Handley and Building Commissioner Eladio R. Gore regarding the neighboring property at 740 Thomas B. Landers Road owned by David A. Haddad and John M. Haddad.
Mr. Handley opposed the rezoning of the Haddad property into a light industrial C district. He has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General over what he considered spot zoning by Town Meeting in April.
He has also filed a complaint because of what he called unpermitted earth moving and tree clearing that negatively affected his property and the nearby deer migration corridor. That complaint was to be heard by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals last night.
“I live on this property and farm on this property and that’s the reason why I’m fighting so hard to improve water quality,” he said.
He said the focus on his property is payback by town officials for his complaints. “This is harassment. The Town of Falmouth is harassing us,” he said. “This is slanderous.”
The Handley property was the subject of a possible land deal with the Town of Falmouth last year, because it abuts land that the town acquired last year in a swap with the Steamship Authority. The land could be used to dispose of treated wastewater from the treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road.
Mr. Handley said he and his mother Patricia A. Handley met last year with Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper and former town administrator Peter F. Boyer to discuss selling the property to the town, which was assessed at $234,300 this year.
Mr. Handley said he asked for $950,000 at the meeting, but received no response. Mr. Handley said he arrived at his price by comparing his property to the 2009 sale of 47 acres on Thomas B. Landers Road for $8.6 million to the Steamship Authority. Mr. Handley said he came to the asking price by taking the average price per acre in the Steamship Authority deal and multiplying it by the number of acres his family owns.
“I was just asking for the going price. I wasn’t asking for an exorbitant amount of money,” Mr. Handley said.
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