Grasshopper Lives Another Day
by Bobby Blair 11/16/12
Planning Board Hearing has all the suspense and drama of a court room trial ...
A hearing for a Jeffrey Ave business continued from a previous session was once again continued until Tuesday, November 27th at 8 p.m. Judge Judy has nothing on the theatrics which were being played out Thursday eve in the selectmen's room at town hall.
Setting the stage were no less than three lawyers, five Planning Board members, a civil engineer, several Lowland Street Industrial Park neighbors, the town's planner and town's building inspector. At question were Grasshopper Tree and Landscape Company's alledged violations of a special permit granted in 2005 to conduct business at 67 Jeffrey Avenue.
Grasshopper Landscape appears to be a victim of its own success. A complaint about the smell eminating from mulch pile(s) at Grasshopper has brought increased scrutiny by the parties involved to the local landscape business. While the odor from Grasshopper's mulch piles opened up the can of worms, the height of the piles have shot up red flags. Enter stage left the DEP (Department of Enviromental Protection) whose rules only allow piles to be 15' in height.
Above attorney Peter Barbieri representing Grasshopper Landscape points out corrective measures taken at the Jeffrey Avenue site since the last Planning Board meeting. Grasshopper owner Jedd Barclay in the checkered shirt looks on. The hearing took a twist when Planning Board member Geoffrey Zeamer recused himself and took a seat in the audience. Zeamer is in the midst of developing a site on Lowland Street for his business which abutts that of Grasshopper Landscape.
Planning Board Chairman Parashar Patel pressed Attorney Barbieri that Grasshopper had in fact violated its 2005 special permit. Being less than vague in his answer, Barbieri all but admitted that violations had occured. Joyce Hastings from GLM Engineering then took the floor to elaborate on the corrective measures being taken by Grasshopper Landscape including a new fence and retaining wall which abutts neighbor Cold Chain Technologies.
Hastings' presentation brought to the floor Attorney Scott Fenton (2rd from left above) of the Law Firm of Bowditch & Dewey representing Cold Chain Technologies. Owner Larry Gordon of Cold Chain sits to Fenton's left. Gordon told the board that his employees at times are unable to eat lunch outside his building due to the fumes from Grasshopper's mulch piles. In addition Gordon said his windows and loading dock doors must be closed not only to protect employees but his products which are used in the packaging of pharmaceuticals, biotech, and transplant industries. Attorney Fenton challenged the Planning Board to not set a precedent by allowing the 2005 special permit violations to go unchecked. Fenton was also persistent that Grasshopper had done nothing to alleviate an erosion problem at Grasshopper property line with Cold Chain.
The above photo supplied by Attorney Fenton to Planning Board members shows an eroding hillside with Cold Chain Technogies pictured at the top of the photo.
GLM Engineering proposed cutting trees at the top of this hillside and placing an 8' fence with fabric along the property line. Geoffrey Zeamer, Planning Board member who was now sitting in the audience, requested that the board also include his property line for a new fence. Zeamer also objected to Grasshopper's plans to chip wood and limbs due to emissions especially if it rained. While Grasshopper has lowered its mulch piles in compliance with DEP Regulations, it is still looking to increase the number of metal containers on site from the allowed 2005 limit of 10 to its present 17. Allowed parking spaces will be another determination the Planning Board will decide when the hearing reconvenes on November 27th.