Cat Dam, June 7th Hearing

Observations & Comments on the June 7, 2011 Conservation Commission Hearing
on Cohasset’s Cat Dam – by Karen Quigley

At the June 7 Conservation Commission hearing on Cat Dam, I found a number of comments to be most amusing. Here are some of my favorites. Believe me, you just can’t make this stuff up!

The E-20’s attorney admonished the commission that it was misunderstanding its role and advised them in a thinly veiled threat that If this isn’t done right, it will go on for years. Right. Environmentally? Legally? Who determines what right is? Definitely not ConCom. Unless, of course, they’re ‘right’.

E-20 spokespersons’ comments: You need to determine if you’re going to work with us or against us. …. This is not a game, it is a very expensive proposition that has serious consequences and will cost the town a lot of money it doesn’t have. Anyone miss the implications?

The E-20’s current engineer’s repeated response of How healthy is healthy? to the commission’s inquiries as to how the proposed O&M would meet the State’s Water Quality Standards. Reminiscent of a former president?

(“It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is.” – Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair.)

Speaking of water quality standards, one of the commissioners who overtly sympathizes with the E-20 asked how water quality standards were determined, are they qualitative or quantitative and are they applied equally in all cases. I hope he’s embarrassed.

All these were eclipsed by the E-20’s attorney offering to ‘brief’ the Conservation Agent on ConCom’s bylaws and regulations as well as the MEPA process. Imagine the hubris!

In addition to the fact that he’s been Cohasset’s agent for 16 years, what makes this so outrageous are his credentials: a Masters degree in environmental science with a concentration on wetlands, a certified professional wetlands scientist who has operated his own business for 25 years providing environmental consultation as a wetlands expert (coastal and freshwater), environmental permitting on local, state and federal levels, conservation commission reviews, and expert testimony. He is a member of the Society of Wetland Scientists, Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists, American Society of Civil Engineers, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, and The Wildlife Society.

Clearly, the man is inexperienced, under-qualified and in great need of ‘briefing’. Thank goodness the E-20 attorney is able to set the record straight!

There was a debate between ConCom’s agent (yes) and the E-20’s attorney (no) as to whether Inner Little Harbor is classified as a water resource area. But again, I remind you the agent really doesn’t understand these complicated environmental matters.
There were gratuitous attacks on the Interim Town Manager (ITM) who, in the opinion of the E-20 completed the NOI form incorrectly under the direction of an unnamed selectman who was in town hall every day.

Anyone who knows the ITM knows that nobody makes him do anything. ConCom’s agent stated he thought the ITM filled it out correctly – but then what does he know?

A selectman being in town hall every day is a bad thing? Admittedly I was there a lot but I had no hand in this submission that I opposed for reasons that are becoming all too obvious.

I do, however, recall representatives of the E-20 in the ITM’s office demanding to ‘sign off’ on the NOI prior to its submission. Guess they missed this one tiny little point. Probably too busy huffing and puffing.

And then what conspiracy was going on between the commission and the Tinytown Gazette? Our publisher requested the technical assistance comments and, since they are public documents, she was sent them. The E-20 paid their attorney to request them and had to wait to get the documents from him. Oh the injustice!

Even Town Counsel, usually a stoic fellow, was seen smiling. Uncharacteristically, he felt it his duty to speak to the matter of the property owners’ legal rights and offered the E-20’s attorney a clue. Oblivious to Town Counsel’s comment the E-20 attorney remained clueless.

Then we have the fact that despite there being a quorum (3) of selectmen in the room, one of which presented himself as the Town’s representative at the opening of the hearing, the E-20’s attorney insisted the applicant, the Town, was not in attendance. That begs the question, why not? Could it be because the Town was never the real applicant? That it’s always been the E-20 pulling the puppet strings?

And then it just got better. As the chair called for a vote to close the hearing to public comment, the E-20’s attorney requested a recess. Recess? Guess he thought he was in court. Anyway, always courteous and not wanting to seem unreasonable, a recess was granted. After which the E-20 requested the hearing be continued until such time as they could consult with the Board of Selectmen.

I think the chair had the vote to close but as I said above, always courteous blah blah… The hearing was continued to July 7. That is, of course, unless the E-20 can’t get its new information to ConCom in time in which case it will be continued to a later date. Presumably, a much later date.

Yup, you got it. The E-20 thought things weren’t going their way yet again so they played a trump card –  their cohorts, the selectmen – and fell back on their old reliable tactic of delay. After all, it’s worked for them for what 5 or 6 years.

If they thought the selectmen would vote to pull the NOI they encountered a bump in the road when the chair of ConCom stated that if this NOI did not return to ConCom then ConCom would immediately issue an order of compliance.

What devious plan do they have or are they just desperate? These people play hardball. They feel they are entitled to get their own way. Stay tuned. You aren’t going to want to miss this!

Until then, I remain your obsessive pundit.
(Read background on Cat Dam in categories

© Copyright 2011 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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