Carver: Alex Johnson Cranberry-Maki & G. Lopes Excavating mining operation under false pretense of cranberry agriculture exposed
Jan. 25, 2023 Earth Removal Committee: public hearing on Maki-Lopes application to expand
December 5, 2022: A Citizens Suit Law demand letter and notice of intent to sue was delivered to the Carver Earth Removal Committee and Massachusetts Attorney General over illegal mining by landowner Bette Maki and The Lopes Companies.
In 2011, Maki obtained an earth removal permit under the false pretense of building a 10.99 acre reservoir to irrigate 12 acres of cranberry bogs. The Earth Removal Committee (ERC) has gone along with this false pretense for a decade, using the 2011 permit as a cover to allow the illegal mining. The permit is expired and a cease and desist from September 2022 is being ignored. The ERC is window dressing and does not do its job of controlling earth removal under the Bylaw.
This was supposed to be a 10.99 acre reservoir – now 20 acres, double the size. DEP states that the 10.99 acre reservoir is 3 times the volume of water needed for 12 acres of bogs. So that was a ruse for mining.
G. Lopes of Taunton runs the excavation and trucking operations. Maki obtained the earth removal permit under the name of Alex Johnson Cranberries. According to the Secretary of State that company was dissolved 20 years ago. It appears the cranberry company is a false flag so that Maki, Johnson and their new engineer, Bill Madden of GAF Engineering can claim this is an agricultural project.
In early November, 2022, GAF Engineering, Lopes and Maki filed for a new earth removal permit to extend the illegal operation for another 15 months. This permit must be denied. A public hearing scheduled for Dec. 7, 2022 on whether to grant this permit was continued until January 25th, 2023, because the permit application was incomplete.
Robert Ieronimo, the Chair of the Committee, who refused to allow the meeting to be recorded by Area 58, showed hostility toward the concerned residents. Mary Dormer of Carver Concerned Citizens said, “To say that we are disappointed is an understatement. I wonder what it is going to take for the ERC to do their job, which is to protect the residents of Carver. I have yet to see one board in this town do the right thing. When residents showed the ERC pictures of silica sand from the operation covering their property and described the excessive and concussive noise and vibrations they have endured for a decade, causing cracks in their home’s foundations, we were treated with disrespect and dismissed. Town officials work for the residents, not for the sand and gravel industry.”
The YouTube drone video is here. This is not “cranberry agriculture” like Johnson, Maki and the Town claim. The operation is on Maps 83 and 84 The Town is letting this be classified as “Chapter 61A” agricultural use. The landowners pay virtually no taxes while making millions extracting and selling sand and gravel.
The Carver Earth Removal Committee gave Johnson and Maki a permit in 2011. Permits must be renewed annually and cannot extend beyond 5 years without a public hearing. The permit has expired, trucks are speeding, exceeding the truck limit set by the 10-year-old permit, violating hours of operation and harming the neighborhood, home values and groundwater. The Earth Removal Committee has been sent a demand to stop this illegal operation but this is ignored. Members of the committee have conflicts of interest because many are in the earth removal business. The ERC issued a cease and desist to Maki in September but it was immediately violated by Lopes and Maki. The cease and desist was a ruse and pretense.
Wetlands Laws Abused and Evaded, State Goes Along
On March 28, 2022, Ten Residents of Carver filed an appeal with the state Department of Environmental Protection citing violations of the Wetlands Protection Act. The Carver Conservation Commission blatantly refused to do its job to enforce the Wetlands Protection Act to protect water and wetlands. On May 4, 2022, at 11 a.m. the MassDEP and Environmental Strike Force did a site visit. Bette Maki refused to let the local residents on the site. The DEP ruled on July 30, 2022 that the reservoir was three times the size needed for 12 acres of bog and was not exempt agriculture but that the excavation did not harm the wetlands. All the DEP required was some erosion barriers. DEP is going along with this hoax.
Johnson is one of many so-called cranberry companies like AD Makepeace doing sand and gravel extraction under the guise of a cranberry operation. They collect taxpayer subsidies for cranberries and keep their land in Chapter 61A agriculture to avoid real estate taxes. Even the former Chairman of the Carver Earth Removal Committee, John “Garry” Garretson III, runs sand mining operations under the guise of “cranberry bogs“! See the video of his strip mine operation, Slocum Gibbs here. It appears Garretson is planning a solar project for his “cranberry” land off Wareham Street where he is running a strip mine.The Building Inspector and Board of Health have been asked repeatedly for years by local residents to stop the illegal operation, the trucks, noise, vibration and emissions of dust. Residents’ complaints and concerns are dismissed and disregarded. Trucks run after hours with no consequences. Local residents’ homes shake and vibrate due to the industrial logging, earth removal and heavy equipment. Dust emissions cover homes and cars every day.