Friday, July 13, 2001
Berry Corner neighbors still locked in dispute
At its June 28 meeting the conservation commission (ConsCom) heard the next chapter in the long-running dispute between Michael and David Valchuis and the current residents of Berry Corner Lane.
The issue, which came before the ConsCom in May 1999 following prolonged proceedings before the planning board, involved the Valchuis brothers' plan to upgrade the unpaved private way to "common-drive standards," as required by the planning board, in order to reach a 13-acre lot at the end of the dirt road. The applicants further proposed to construct a single residence with an emergency vehicle turnaround, also at the behest of the planning board. However, the Valchuises' potential future neighbors along the lane objected on a number of grounds, including issues of ownership and wetland deterioration.
Concerned primarily with questions of who owned the lane and the thoroughness of the wetland delineations, the commission denied the Valchuis application, whereupon the brothers appealed the decision to the state department of environmental protection (DEP). The state agency reinvestigated the environmental impacts, accepted a number of revisions by the applicants and finally issued a Superseding Order of Conditions (SOC), allowing the project to proceed. That decision was immediately challenged in an adjudicatory hearing before an administrative judge.
On June 14 of this year, following a series of investigations and attempts at reconciliation, the administrative law judge dismissed the appeal and directed the department to prepare a Final SOC, which they did on June 20. The petitioners have a thirty-day period to submit a final appeal, after which construction can begin.
The conclusion of the Berry Corner Lane residents' appeal will not resolve a civil action filed in Superior Court on December 30, 1999, by Michael Valchuis et al. against the ConsCom for harm alleged to have been caused by their denial of the original application. A pre-trial conference between the parties, previously scheduled for June 21, has been continued to a date in September, to be selected by the court.
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