AP NEWS

Selectmen Get Down, Dirty in Soil Vote

February 17, 2019

PEPPERELL -- Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to bury a proposal for soil reclamation on Nashua Road that has drawn criticism from local residents.

The board voted to send a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection stating its opposition to the project.

The board also voted unanimously to file an appeal against a decision made by the town Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 16 that overturned a determination made by Building Inspector Robert Kelly.

The votes on both motions were met with applause from the audience at Monday’s meeting.

“Part of the action we’re taking is due to the fact that we’ve been waiting for additional information to be presented back to us as promised,” Selectman Roland Nutter said during the meeting. “We have yet to receive that so he board is taking a stance now that we’ve waited long enough.”

Mass Composting Group Inc., which owns the property at 161 Nashua Road, wants to dump approximately four million cubic yards of discarded soil gathered from construction sites throughout New England.

On Oct. 9, Kelly concluded that the project site would be used as “permanent storage” of “otherwise unwanted or unusable soil” from the construction sites.

Since local zoning laws ban commercial dumping grounds in Pepperell, the entire project would not be allowed.

After MCGI filed an appeal against Kelly’s determination on Nov. 7, attorney Douglas Deschenes represented MCGI in front of the ZBA during a public hearing on Jan. 16.

With the help of licensed site professionals Charles Myette and Phil Peterson, a member of Terra Environmental, LLC who presented the proposal on behalf of MCGI on June 28 last year, Deschenes explained that the proposal was not meant to turn the lot into a disposal site for dug-up debris. According to the ZBA’s decision, Deschenes said that the project is a “reclamation of an existing quarry area” that was proposed under the DEP’s Administrative Consent Order program for reclamation facilities and the department’s Interim Policy on Soil Re-use. It was based on this explanation that the ZBA granted the appeal to reverse Kelly’s decision.

Town Administrator Andrew MacLean said on Tuesday that the town has until Feb. 19 to file an appeal in Massachusetts Land Court and plans to have all necessary paperwork submitted by Friday.

He added that a draft of the letter to the DEP was expected to be completed by Wednesday and then sent out soon after. MacLean said that the town offices had received letters from 81 town residents within the last week also opposing the soil project.