Meeting with MEPA* over Fruit Street

 

"I think the things they want are reasonable and easy to satisfy"

~ Eric Sonnett, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen

    

"Compared to other places, Hopkinton is like Switzerland,"

~ Director of MEPA

 

by Robert Falcione

December 1, 2005 The town-owned land on Fruit Street has undergone studies required by the OEOE (Office of Environmental Affairs) and must meet requirements set by the MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act) office.

    An SEIR (Single Environmental Impact Report) was submitted to the State, but turned back, with MEPA office asking for more alternatives. An SSEIR (Second Single Environmental Impact Report) was sent to the MEPA office and again fell short, with MEPA asking for more built-down alternatives, the relocation of a road, and perhaps the exclusion of one or more components of the project.

     Today, Selectmen Chairman Eric Sonnett, Selectman Ron Clark, State Senator Karen Spilka as well as State Rep. Paul Loscocco, ConCom Vice-Chair Robert Murphy and School Committee Chair Dave Stoldt, met with MEPA Director Deerin Babb-Brott on behalf of the town to find out how to proceed and get an approval next time. Also attending were engineers from VHB and Earthtech, two consulting firms the town used on the Fruit Street project. Also attending were Kevin Kohrt on behalf of Selectman Muriel Kramer, who couldn't attend because it was not a posted meeting according to the Open Meeting statute requirements, and Carol DeVeuve as a private citizen.

       One of the attendees quoted Mr. Clark as telling Director Babb-Brott that Hopkinton is very divided over this issue, but the Director countered.

       "Compared to other places, Hopkinton is like Switzerland," he was quoted as saying..

       "It was a very positive meeting," said Mr. Sonnett. "We are going to sit down and figure out how to respond to their requests," he said. "To find  out what direction the town should take.

      "We felt we met the first objections, but they did not.

      "When asked how close we were to achieving the MEPA Certificate, he [Director] said we were well over 90%," Mr. Sonnett said.

    "It should be completed in the next 75-90 days. I think the things they want are reasonable and easy to satisfy.

    "They want a discussion of the effects of the least intense use of the property," he said.

     Resident Carol DeVeuve, a member of the Master Plan Committee,  said she attended as a private citizen.

     "It was a very informative," she said in a telephone interview this evening.

     "It was apparent from the meeting, had we provided an alternative-build scenario from the beginning we would have been done with this by now," she said.

      "It should be completed in the next 75-90 days. I think the things they want are reasonable and easy to satisfy," said Mr. sonnet.

 

*GLOSSARY:

MEPA
The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, M.G.L. c. 30, sections 61 through 62H, inclusive.

MEPA Office
The MEPA Office is the staff of the Secretary of Environmental Affairs responsible for daily implementation and administration of the MEPA review process. The staff, headed by the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Impact Review (also known as the MEPA Director), consists of environmental analysts and administrative support persons. The MEPA Office reviews Environmental Notification Forms (ENF) and Environmental Impact Reports (EIR); makes recommendations to the Secretary regarding the need for EIR and the adequacy of EIR; assists project proponents, agencies, and the public with questions; interprets the MEPA regulations; and publishes the Environmental Monitor.  ~ From the MEPA website.

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