Planning Board Spends Just Under An Hour On Non-Asphalt Newport Materials Discussion

Newport Materials was back before the Planning Board and this time it had nothing to do with the controversial proposed asphalt plant.

In a request for clarification, Newport attorney Douglas Deschenes returned before the board this week regarding moving Earth materials at 540 Groton Rd.

This issue came before the board in February and again on April 4, but clarification was needed this week regarding a stormwater management permit related to the proposal.

Specifically, an advisory notice was given to Newport that certain criteria shall be met before the permit can be used and work can begin on the site.

One of those criteria, a determination that the movement of the Earth materials met the town’s zoning requirements, delayed the ability of the Westford Conservation Department to engage in a pre-construction meeting and erosion control review required to move forward on the project.

Deschenes told the board he had obtained a letter from Building Inspector Matt Hakala saying that while the removal of materials is noted under Westford’s zoning bylaws, they were silent regarding moving materials around a site and only a state law, not the zoning bylaws, regulated bringing materials onto a site.

That being said, he expressed confusion and frustration, as Newport was informed that this particular request was expressed merely as “advisory.”

He also later added that inserting zoning requirements within a stormwater management permit was inappropriate in any case.

In response, members of the board expressed concern on being unsure about on the details of the proposal, stating that only one of five requests to obtain specific information had been fulfilled.

Deschenes told the board that all pertinent information had been provided and the town’s Engineering Department agreed that the proposals were appropriate.

He added that if what Newport was doing was indeed a non-allowed use under the town’s zoning bylaws, Hakala could come and issue a cease and desist order immediately.

However, he believed Newport was within its rights, and if it was not, that several other businesses in town would also require cease and desist orders, as they did they brought materials onto their properties without the same scrutiny.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Galvin attempted to strike a balance after just under an hour of discussion.

Ultimately, both sides agreed to a clarification of the initial request, requesting Newport to consult the building commissioner to determine whether any additional zoning relief or permits are required for this specific project.