North Scituate Condo Development Continues to Ignore the Law
December 16, 2021
NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. — The developers of the controversial McIntosh Hill Estates, formerly called the Chopmist Hill Estates, project were fined again last month by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Property owner John Pereira and contractor John Mahoney altered freshwater wetlands, discharged pollutants into a nearby tributary to the Scituate Reservoir, and failed to install proper sediment and erosion controls, according to the Nov. 16 notice of violation. The pair face $42,750 in penalties.
It is not the first time the 18-unit condominium development on Chopmist Hill Road has run afoul of state authorities. Mahoney was cited and fine $3,000 in late July 2020 for excavating an access road, refusing to install soil and sediment control measures, and generally ignoring the terms of his then-expired stormwater discharge permit.
After being issued the fine, Mahoney, a former president of the Scituate Town Council, said, “I’d never, ever, ever pay that.” The $3,000 fine remains unpaid.
A month earlier, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation had issued a cease-and-desist order to Mahoney for clearing an access road without a permit.
Mahoney was issued a new stormwater discharge permit in September 2020, but continued to defy state regulators. A November inspection by DEM showed 90 percent of the site had been cleared of vegetation. An inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency showed Mahoney had failed to keep inspection and maintenance records of the site’s erosion controls.
“Over the course of the last year we’ve had 13 runoff events … where a thick mud is going into the ecosystem here,” said John Patrie, a neighbor of the development that first riled local residents nearly five years ago.
On the 6.7-acre McIntosh Hill Estates property there used to be a small tributary stream that fed directly into the Scituate Reservoir. While some neighbors say they haven’t seen the stream since construction started, stormwater runoff still broadly follows its path to the reservoir. This past January, the Providence Water Supply Board inspected the site, finding high levels of turbid sediment-laden stormwater discharging from the property.
Mahoney submitted a new sediment control plan this past spring, which was quickly approved by DEM, but additional inspections showed the plan was not being executed. On Aug. 18, Mahoney denied inspectors entry onto the property, according to DEM. Instead, the agency received reports of inspections performed by Joseph McCue, a consultant hired by Mahoney.
Seventy-five residents who live on or near Chopmist Hill Road signed a petition opposing the project in 2017. Residents remain concerned about runoff and the impact an influx of new residents will have on local water supplies.
“There are times we are very conservative with our water use because it has gone dry in the past,” said Joe Paliotti, who lives on nearby Cooke Drive.
Despite living less than 2 miles from the Scituate Reservoir, local residents actually source their water from a separate aquifer using private wells. The proposed McIntosh Hill Estates condominiums would source their water from the same aquifer using three wells installed on-site. Residents are concerned those additional wells could overtax an already-stressed aquifer.
“If you don’t have water, you don’t have a house,” Paliotti said.
Editor’s note: Mahoney declined to comment for this story, after calling ecoRI News names and asking the reporter if FO meant anything to him.
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