EPC's jurisdiction over clear-cut Delafield Island tract questioned
Whether the Environmental Protection Commission has any jurisdiction over the property at 122 Delafield Island Road, where a large number of trees were recently cut down, was discussed at the board's meeting last week.
The property has been the focus of controversy since its new owner clear-cut dozens of trees on the property without town approval.
However, Robert Maslan, the lawyer representing the property owners, said at the commission's Nov. 5 meeting that based on surveys from experts, the property does not have any inland wetlands and is therefore not under the jurisdiction of the EPC.
The Planning and Zoning Commission does have oversight on the property because it is a coastal wetlands.
The clear-cutting is still a violation of state Coastal Area Management regulations, some officials contend.
Maslan told the commission that he expects an application for the property to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission within a couple months.
"You will have opportunity to comment again," Maslan said. "I expect Planning and Zoning to be strict on this application."
Applications that deal with coastal area management are also presented to the EPC for comment.
Wilder Gleason, the lawyer representing neighbors of 122 Delafield Island, told the EPC that it should not "give up" jurisdiction.
"As of right now tonight, the record in front of us is that experts have said that there are only tidal wetlands," EPC member Keith Kearney said.
After 30 minutes of discussion with Gleason and Maslan, the EPC acted as the conservation commission and issued notice of violation to the property owners.
The property was sold last June for $8.75 million, lower than the initial asking price of $11.5 million when it went on the market in June 2013, according to town records.
Gleason said on Oct. 1 that a Google search and confirmation from the secretary of the state revealed that 122 Delafield Island LLC is held by Thomas J. Campbell, the founder and CEO of an investment firm based in Alexandria, Va.
On Sept. 22, Rich Jacobson, the EPC officer, issued a notice of violation to the property owner and told him to stop all activities within the regulated area, provide a survey of the wetlands and show where the trees were prior to being removed. The owner also was told to attend the Oct. 1 EPC meeting.
The owner was not present at the Oct. 1 meeting or the Nov. 5 meeting, and Maslan -- who the owner retained a few days prior to the Oct. 1 meeting -- was unable to offer an explanation as to why the trees were cut down. Maslan told the commission Oct. 1 that the owner also intends to demolish the house on the property.
Maslan also did not provide a reason as to why the trees were cut down at the Nov. 5 meeting.