Kingstown Trucking is violating the law, the Town won’t enforce the Special Permit it granted to Kingstown for the mining operation, and the County stands by and lets a public resource be destroyed
Bulldozing a globally rare Pine Barrens ecosystem is bad enough but now Kingstown Trucking is illegally dumping debris mixed with asphalt on the new road it is cutting in to the Wood Lot. Will Kingstown’s $10,000 cash payment really cover clean up of this mess?
Kingstown should not be doing any bulldozing, cutting trees, or laying any down roads at all on the Wood Lot because this is illegal – it violates the Special Permit and the Town’s own zoning laws. As we’ve written in our prior blog on this site, Kingstown hasn’t given Town the legally required performance bond and the Town has not approved an “end use” for the mining site.
But there is now even more illegal activity occurring on the County Wood Lot!
Illegal access road
Kingstown is building a road to get to the location on the Wood Lot where it will remove sand and gravel from the public’s land. This sand and gravel is estimated to be worth several million dollars – up to $7 million by some estimates.
As far as the road, Kingstown told the Town, “The access road is proposed to be improved to a 22 foot wide gravel surface with two foot shoulders.” This was documented by the Town’s consulting engineer, Beals and Thomas, in a 2014 Letter, page 2. TownConsultantReport
Kingstown’s own plan shows a gravel road.
What Kingstown is dumping on the Wood Lot is not gravel.
Kingstown is not doing what it told the Town it would do and what is required by the law – the road is not “gravel” at all.
According to an eye witness, Kingstown is using what appears to be “material that comes from recycling asphalt from road removals. There are chunks of brick and concrete mixed in with rock….[it has] a heavy, heavy gasoline smell.” 7/25/18 personal observation. Use of this material is illegal.
The road shoulders are also illegal – they are higher than two feet.
The entire Wood Lot, including where Kingstown is dumping debris-laden material with a heavy gasoline smell is within Area 3 of the Plymouth Aquifer Protection Map. Kingstown’s dumping of this apparently toxic material could easily threaten the Town’s drinking water supply.
Kingstown’s told the Town this road would “temporary”. Beals and Thomas report, Comment 5. This road has to be removed when the mining operation is done and the area restored according the Bylaw specifications. Is this really going to be done?
No Performance Bonds for site restoration
There are three legal requirements for the performance bond: 1. the Special Permit that Plymouth’s zoning board granted to Kingstown, 2. Kingstown’s contract with the County, and 3. the Bylaw. All require Kingstown to provide performance bonds before starting work. A bond is supposed to cover the cost of site restoration in case the developer does it wrong, or worse yet, walks away.
There are no performance bonds in place. This is illegal.
On July 18, 2018, Plymouth residents asked the Town building inspector to enforce the Special Permit and Bylaw against Kingstown and to require a performance bond. There has been no response. Concerned residents have made multiple requests to the Town for proof of the performance bond required under the law. After the fact, and after residents asked for proof of the bond, the Town Planner wrote a memo saying he had received a $10,000 check. That is not a performance bond. 2018.07.17_10,000checkMemo
Yet, in 2014, this same Town Planner told the ZBA that a performance bond was required. 2014TownPlannerMemo
Now, the Town won’t enforce the Special Permit and the zoning law, the Town Planner has gone back on his own word, and the County refuses to enforce the contract.
All of this is illegal and puts the public’s Wood Lot and assets at risk.
By allowing this work to go ahead, the County Commissioners are violating their duty to care for and steward the public’s assets. G.L. c. 34, Section 14. It’s bad enough that they are giving away millions of dollars of the public’s sand and gravel to Kingstown for a mere $345,000. Now, the Commissioners are laying waste to the area by allowing Kingstown to construct an illegal road.
No proper plans
No “finished contours” plan
The Town admits Kingstown hasn’t given the ZBA a plan of the finished contours of the mining site, which is required by law. In a legal document, the Town admitted: “Kingstown did not submit to the ZBA a preliminary plan showing finished contours of the topography of the County Wood Lot following completion of the sand and gravel mining operations allowed under the 2015 Special Permit.” Stipulated Agreed Facts: Municipal Defendants and Plaintiffs, Sharl Heller et al. v. Peter Conner et al., Land Court Case 15 MISC 000481.
Such a plan is supposed to show all the grading, slopes and types of vegetation Kingstown will use to restore the site. Without this information, there is no there is no way to determine the amount of the performance bond Kingstown is supposed to give the Town and the County. This violates the law.
Other missing information
The Town’s own consultant, Beals and Thomas, wrote a report saying Kingstown failed to submit four types of information required by the law:
- No construction phasing plan. “The submission of a construction phasing plan is required to identify the progression of the removal operation. Appropriate details should be provided as to where and in what manner the excavated materials will be deposited or stored as required by Section 205-18 G(1) of the Bylaw. See, Beals and Thomas letter above, Earth Removal Comment 8, page 8.
- No verification of soil texture prior to construction. The Special Permit requires soil testing to make sure that Kingstown accurately described the rate at which rainwater runoff from the gravel pit will infiltrate to the surrounding soils. Runoff that is too fast and too heavy can cause damaging erosion. The Town’s consultant recommended the soil test, and the Special Permit contains this requirement, but it has never been done as far as we know. See, Beals and Thomas letter, above, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control, Comment 3, page 11.
- Inadequate plan showing how the gravel pit slopes will be stabilized. The Town’s consultant said Kingstown’s plan should address a means for immediate stabilization of the slopes with materials other than seed mix. There is no plan showing this. See, Beals and Thomas letter, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Comment 7, page 11.
- No proper plan showing revegetation. Beals and Thomas also told the Town there was no such plan. See, Beals and Thomas letter, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Comment 8.