Wareham: AD Makepeace, others conduct mining operations under ruse of agriculture claims group, seeks enforcement
For almost 2 years, Wareham Board of Selectmen has ignored unanimous Town Meeting vote for an investigation of unpermitted sand and gravel mining
November 2022 letter gives Selectmen notice of intent to sue to stop illegal mines, collect fees, assess harm to Sole Source Aquifer
For over a decade and likely much longer, Wareham based AD Makepeace Cranberry Co. has been mining sand and gravel in Wareham under the ruse of an “agricultural exemption.” Makepeace never applied for an Earth Removal Permit or proved that the sand and gravel it extracted was used on its cranberry bogs. This same ruse has been used by other cranberry companies in Wareham too: Sure-Cran, Rounseville Hammond to name a few.
Almost a year ago, on Jan. 4, 2022, in response to a Town Meeting resolution passed unanimously, the Board of Selectmen voted to hire an expert to audit volume of sand AD Makepeace has mined without permits and if any fees and penalties are owed. It has not done this.
Save the Pine Barrens is stepping in to enforce the Bylaw.
See the November demand letter here. It identifies 4 illegal mining operators and 2 for investigation.
Wareham Week January 2022 story here.
In October, 2021 at Town Meeting Wareham voters overwhelmingly passed Warrant Article 18 urging the Board of Selectmen to require AD Makepeace to account for all the sand removed from the town under the guise of agriculture — and possibly without the Earth Removal Permits required by the Town General Bylaw.
The Earth Removal Permit would have required Makepeace to pay the Town 25 cents per cubic yard of earth removed and enormous penalties – potentially in the millions – if it cheated the permit system.
Makepeace is finally being forced verify by credible evidence where all the sand really went — to bogs or out of town via all the trucks seen up and down the roads heading to its industrial sand mining operations and mixing facilities in Carver and Westford or to to third party buyers via the interstate highways?
In 2021, then Chair of the Board of Selectmen Peter Teitelbaum wrote in a letter responding to a Public Records Request there was no earth removal permit for Makepeace’s 160 Tihonet Road earth removal operation and later confirmed that no earth removal permits had been granted by the Board of Selectmen for any Make
At the January 4, 2022 Selectboard meeting on the vote, Selectman Peter Teitelbaum, a Makepeace apologist, complained that seeking to enforce the bylaw was a “slippery slope”. Barry Cosgrove who proposed the Town Meeting resolution commented:
“If fulfilling a legal obligation under bylaw and respecting the will of the people is a slippery slope, what is the metaphor for ignoring a legal obligation and ignoring the will of the people?”
Wareham Week reported, “Cosgrove said the petition article — which voters supported — was “an unambiguous complaint” to the town about possible earth removal bylaw violations. ” More news here:
Makepeace’s earth removal in Wareham likely deprived the town of significant revenue from earth removal fees. Makepeace has claimed time and again that earth removed from Wareham is for its “agricultural operations” such as building, refurbishing and winter sanding its own cranberry bogs.
Makepeace will necessarily also have to account for all the sand it has removed in abutting towns like Plymouth and Carver, since it has frequently claimed sand taken from those towns was also use on the same cranberry bogs and supposedly subject to agricultural immunity. In other words, the region-wide math does not add up. Nor do the Makepeace claims that the mining operations are “necessary” to build new agricultural projects.
Here’s what the voters’ October Town Meeting Warrant Article says:
Makepeace mining sites subject to investigation
160 Tihonet Road, Wareham
Before, during and after photos below
Before: the old “land strip” area used by planes doing aerial spraying of pesticides and fertilizers
During AD Makepeace sand mining. Excavation into the Sole Source Aquifer to extract the best sand.
After: land denuded to the point where nothing can grow in human time. Ground mounted solar.
71 Charlotte Furnace Road, Wareham
Before and after images below show 42 acres of forest clear-cut, mining and Borrego Solar project as of 2021.
64, 77 and 299 Farm to Market Road
What happened for earth removal at these three sites needs a thorough investigation and accountability from local and state regulators. Between 2010 and 2021, it appears that Makepeace conducted an earth removal operation in the areas known as numbers 64, 77 and 299 Farm to Market Road. State regulatory documents are unclear and are inconsistent with maps and site plan review documents from the Wareham Planning Board.
The site appears to be between 11 and 23 acres. Before earth removal, it appears topography before was about 69 feet and after about 54-64 feet
Makepeace submitted an Environmental Notification Form to the state MEPA office in 2019. The state’s MEPA Certificate 13940, p. 2, May 2, 2019 states,
The “area of work [for installation of a solar project] is largely cleared and previously disturbed.”
“The site was formerly used for sand mining, which cleared the site of vegetation….Because sand mining is ongoing, site grades fluctuate; final grades will range from 54 ft to 64 ft NAVD.”
Makepeace and Borrego Solar Project, Farm to Market Road, Wareham, 2021
Where did the sand go?
On the Trucks leaving Read Custom Soils or on Makepeace’s cranberry bogs?