By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — The developer of the former Cape Ann Tool Company site says he’s committed to seeing the plans through.
But while he is still awaiting state approval to the project’s amended Chapter 91 public regarding public waterway access — and while plans have received state Department of Environmental Protection and federal approvals — property owner Michael Rauseo of Cape Ann Tool LLC said he is still being wrongly impeded by some town officials and the town’s Boston-based law firm of Kopelman and Paige.
Documents show that site work to repair sections of the seawall does not need any federal permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, as any repair work being done to the site would be beyond the mean high water mark.
A corps official had previously indicated the work would have affected navigable waters, which requires a special permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, but that is not the case, documents show.
But with some seven moorings attached to the wall that needs to be repaired, work crews on the Cape Ann Tool site project cannot access the wall itself.
Rauseo, citing the safety of his workers, said he needs to access the wall from the innermost part of Pigeon Cove Harbor, directly behind the former tool site, with a barge. According to state DEP laws, no permit can authorize moorings on private tidelands if the applicant objects.
Rauseo’s attorney, Jamy Madeja of Buchanan and Associates has stated numerous times that Rauseo, as property owner, objects to the moorings, according to emails obtained by the Times.
But the town’s law firm has since requested more information, opinions and permits from the town and state agencies, according to emails from John Goldrosen of Kopelman and Paige to Madeja. Goldrosen’s concerns, the emails show, include permits from the town’s Conservation Commission, how the barge will affect other mooring holders and the scope of the repair work.
According to DEP spokesmen Ed Coletta, the only thing left in front of town government is the notice of intent to do the repairs. The topic is set for the July meeting of the Conservation Commission.
“Under these circumstances, I reached the opinion that the town should not issue any directives to current mooring permit holders regarding relocation of their moorings,” Goldrosen wrote in an email to Madeja last week, requesting an opinion from the DEP.
Madeja outlined her frustrations with the town’s law firm.
“It is not at all reasonable to cause delay in the guise of asking another agency’s opinion when the law is express,” Madeja wrote in an email to Kopelman and Paige last week. “Your advice to the town is like telling them that when someone is parked on someone else’s front lawn, instead of just moving the car, you want to the homeowner to explain first how (the owner) intends to use the lawn, what type of lawnmower (the owner) intends to use to cut the grass, whether or not (the owner) will use fertilizer and to find another parking spot for the illegally parked car before the car is moved.
“You are escalating, not de-escalating, relations regarding necessary and long overdue progressive work,” Madeja wrote to Goldrosen in another email last week.
Multiple developers have exchanged hands and money to buy the property, it has remained vacant since the Tool Company closed its doors in the late 1980s.
The town and the developer cannot even agree when the mooring relocation conversation first took place; Rauseo said it was about nine months ago, soon after he first purchased the property. But Harbormasters Scott Story and Rosemary Lesch said it was first brought up with them just last month.
Earlier this month, Rauseo had opted to pay for the relocation of the moorings and attempted to notify mooring holders of the relocation. Two dates were set this month for boats to be relocated, but they are still attached to Rauseo’s property.
“We are working with fishermen to get them (moorings) removed,” Story said Monday. “Any (moorings) that are on his wall, we will work to rectify that.”
He added there are other moorings not attached to the wall, however, that are still in question.
Despite clashing with town officials and Kopelman and Paige, Rauseo said last week he has no plans to sell the property or otherwise back off the project.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said.
Monday, Rauseo informed Goldrosen of the seawall work going on without the barge, opting instead to work on the land.
“I’m sorry,” he wrote, “but you no longer have a reason to advise the Harbormaster to break the law by occupying our private tidelands without our permission. Please remove all encroachments immediately.”
Goldrosen did not return a call seeking comment on this story.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.