NLC News: SBPF Violates Stop-work Order

On April 2nd, the Nantucket Conservation Commission held a special meeting to address SBPF’s violation of their stop work order from March 26th-28th. The stop-work order is a part of the 2019 enforcement order handed down by the Conservation Commission for SBPF’s use of contaminated fill on their erosion control project at the geotube installation on ‘Sconset beach.

The fill material used for nourishment on the geotubes was replete with construction materials such as bricks, irrigation pipe, chunks of asphalt, concrete, and electrical conduit. Members of the public as well as Commissioners noted a distinct gray discoloration and foul odor being emitted from thousands of cubic yards of the material on the bluff in addition to the construction materials. Thus, the Commission voted unanimously to draft an enforcement order that included three things:

1) SBPF must survey the geotube project daily for construction and any other man made debris, then photograph it, remove it, and store it offsite for later inspection by the Conservation Commission,

2) SBPF must hire an independent third-party laboratory to analyze the suspect fill for chemical and biological contamination,

3) SBPF must stop all work on the erosion control project until the contaminated fill has been addressed and the Commission votes to lift the stop work order.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, SBPF performed what Commissioner Maureen Phillips described as an “end-run” around the Commission’s stop-work order and resumed work on the erosion project. SBPF representatives sent laboratory results to the Conservation Commission with a cover letter stating “based on these results, we plan to resume template maintenance using template sand to re-cover exposed geotubes starting next week…”. However, they failed to wait for the Commission to acknowledge their request and formally vote whether or not to allow the work to proceed, as was required. We believe that this action is within the existing Orders and respectfully request that Mr. Jeff Carlson, Director of the Nantucket Natural Resources Department, contact us if any further action is desired or required prior to resumption of template maintenance.” SBPF then applied for an Emergency Work Approval from the Nantucket Town Building Commissioner -required for any construction work to be conducted on Nantucket during the COVID-19 outbreak. In this application, SBPF made no mention of the stop work order from the Conservation Commission and resumed work on the bluff before the Conservation Commission was able to meet again to review the laboratory results and discuss lifting the stop work order.

This unauthorized work led to the special meeting on April 2nd, in which Commissioners found and voted unanimously on the following: A letter will be drafted outlining the enforcement action (including fines) for violating the stop work order, a second letter to the Select Board requesting a discussion on the future of the project (the SBPF project utilizes Town owned property), and a third letter authorizing a partial lifting of the stop work order to allow only a one-time re-covering of the geotubes with existing material to prevent project damage. Multiple Commissioners commented during the meeting that the project is “hanging on by a thread” due to repeated non-compliance and violations. We appreciate the Commission’s time and diligence in overseeing this significant project.

As this situation develops, NLC will keep you informed. We encourage you to virtually attend the next public meeting of the Conservation Commission is being held on the Town of Nantucket’s YouTube channel this Thursday, April 16th at 5pm.