Chopmist Hill Developer Fined for Illegal Construction Work
August 31, 2020
The developer of the controversial Chopmist Hill Estates condominium project in Scituate, R.I., is late paying a fine for starting construction without a permit, and he has vowed to never pay.
John Mahoney was issued a citation notice and $3,000 penalty by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) on July 22 for excavating an access road, not installing soil- and sediment-control measures, and for generally not following the terms of a stormwater discharge permit issued in 2018.
After a year of no work at the site, the DEM permit expired on June 28, 2019. Mahoney started excavation in June. DEM discovered the illegal work and gave Mahoney a two-week grace period to reactivate the permit. But Mahoney missed the deadline to renew, prompting DEM to issue the fine, which could have been as much as $5,000.
Mahoney, a former president of the Scituate Town Council, recently told The Valley Breeze that regarding the fine, “I’d never, ever, ever pay that.”
The unauthorized construction was confirmed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. The agency is requiring Mahoney to provide updated engineering documents and confirm that a $3,000 bond is still active.
Neighbors of the 6.7-acre wooded lot off Chopmist Hill Road have since filed a complaint against Town Council president James Brady Jr. and Plan Commission chair Jeffrey Hanson for recently issuing a final decision that allows construction of the 18-unit condominium complex to go forward. The complaint claims Mahoney failed to meet a number conditions before starting construction, such as testing wells used by abutters. The lawsuit accuses Brady and Hanson of unlawfully approving the project. Brady didn’t respond to requests for an inquiry and Hanson declined to comment.
The plaintiffs, John J. Patrie Jr. and Jennifer A. Patrie, are asking the court to suspend the permit and permitting process until all conditions for the development are met. They are also asking for damages and payment for attorney’s fees.
The project has been a storm of controversy. When Mahoney bought the property in 2016, he promised the seller he would only build two homes on the site, according to an affidavit signed by the seller’s real-estate agent.
He soon changed course and, using a low- and moderate-income housing exemption, gained initial approval to build six buildings with a total of 18 condos. With the approvals in hand, Mahoney tried to flip the property for $850,0000.
Mahoney then proposed building a six-story, 350-unit apartment complex — only to withdraw that plan and go forward with the condominium design.
Mahoney sold the property to Macintosh Realty LLC, a shell company he formed, in March. The property was sold again in May to MJ Investments LLC. Mahoney remains the project manager.
Mahoney served on the Scituate Town Council from 2016-18, as a member of the short-lived Independent Men of Scituate. He withdrew plans to run for Town Council this year.