On August 28th, 2018, over 800 Nantucket community members attended a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting re: Surfside Crossing. There was a sense of urgency at that meeting as the community soundly rejected the proposed plan for 156 units
Since then, the approval process has moved off-island and behind closed doors. Surfside Crossing may appear to be history or a done deal, but it is most definitely not. It is slowly working its way through the legal system. Next week in Boston the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) will consider a revised, eighteen building, all-condominium plan which was never presented to the ZBA.
It is entirely new. In addition to these hearings, HAC has scheduled a site visit for the morning of April 30, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Given all of the options available on that August afternoon in 2018, what inspired you to attend that standing-room-only ZBA meeting at the High School Auditorium and to make your voices heard? This is a call to action to ask you to show up once again for the online HAC meetings (see link below) and in person at the April 30thsite visit.
To attend the hearing which starts Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 10:00am via video access, please contact DHCDHousingAppealsCommittee@mass.gov – before the hearing (if possible) or during the hearing.
To attend the hearing via audio access only, please call +1 857-327-9245, United States, Boston (Toll) at the start of, or during the hearing, and use Conference ID 482 021 90#
(In order to join the video conference, you will need the Microsoft Teams app downloaded to your computer or smart phone.)
December 30, 2020
‘Pre-Filed Testimony’ is being conducted ahead of the Housing Appeals Court's (HAC) 'Oral Portion Hearing' which is currently scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on March 3, 2021. The hearing will be held at the Nantucket Town Hall followed by a site visit. Once the ‘Pre-Filed Testimony’ is completed and we are closer to March 2021 we will definitely be reaching out to you with more information and action initiatives.
The Nantucket Airport has received multiple Immediate Response Actions (IRA) from Weston Solutions, the group hired by the Airport to assess the PFAS contamination at and around the airport. Private well testing continues to be done in the area around the airport and Site Investigation and Tier Classification reports are available and can be found at https://www.ack-pfas.com/resources-study-documents.
Concerning town supplied water, the Town of Nantucket has hired CDM Smith, an environmental consultant, to help develop an initial risk assessment of potential contributing sources to the PFAS contamination.
For water from private wells, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Drinking Water Program is providing testing to towns with 60% or more of their homes on private wells. For some reason Nantucket was left off the list however homeowners can still apply for free PFAS testing at https://dwp-pfas.madwpdep.org.
The Nantucket PFAS Action Group in conjunction with Dr. Timothy Lepore, MD, FACS is conducting a study of effects to the local food chain from PFAS. Tissue samples are being collected from local deer and the fish from local ponds for analysis to help the public further understand how much PFAS is in the food chain. The study hopes to be able to provide information to help with the lessening the potential accumulation of PFAS in the human body and our island's environment. More information can be found at https://www.pfasactiongroup.com/.
The issue of PFAS contamination on Nantucket is serious. We will continue to attend local meetings about PFAS and as more information is made available, we will pass it along.
Matching Campaign Conclusion and the future
At the end of October we reached our $20,000 Matching campaign goal and that we could not have done it without your support!
In the coming year we will certainly be updating you about Surfside Crossing and Nantucket's PFAS contamination. We will also continue to look into Nantucket's broad and overwhelming carrying capacity issues and update you as more information becomes available.
Lastly we would like to say even though Nantucket Tipping Point has been around for almost three years, incorporated in June of 2019 and became a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization late last winter, we are still very much a grass roots organization that has an ambitious mission which we can only accomplish with your continued support!
Thank You and Happy New Year!
October 29, 2020
Claiming that the 60-unit plan approved by the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in June 2019 is “uneconomic”, Surfside Crossing has appealed to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) in a de novo hearing. A de novo hearing means that the court will decide on the issue without any previous information as if the case is being heard for the first time and the fourteen months of ZBA hearings on Nantucket never happened. In March 2020, Surfside Crossing submitted an all-new 156-unit development comprised entirely of eighteen multi-unit condo buildings, a community building, pool and game court - all only available to residents of the development.
Surfside Crossing's entirely new designed condo complex. Condos are in red and pavement or other impervious surfaces are in black
The Housing Appeals Committee has determined that the submission of an all new plan, with only multi-unit condo buildings does not constitute a “substantial” change and does not require additional Nantucket ZBA involvement.
Nantucket Tipping Point is deeply concerned by the Housing Appeals Committee’s determination and their denial of local input on such a large, high-density development. We understand that this condo complex has the potential to gravely impact the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and the environment of the entire island. This development continues to be inconsistent with local needs and sustainability. Please keep in mind that anyone can purchase these condos. The 25% of the units deemed “affordable” are technically open to anyone living in Massachusetts who meets the income criteria. The rest of the units will be sold to the highest bidder.
Surfside Crossing argues that the 60-unit Comprehensive Permit approved by Town of Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals renders the project “uneconomic” and each condition required by the ZBA has more than a minimal negative economic impact on the project. Surfside Crossing claims that 48 out of the 154 conditions from the Comprehensive Permit listed in the appeal render the project “uneconomic” citing basic conditions such as setbacks, appropriate lighting, etc. which any other home-builder would need to follow. (View original June 14, 2019 ZBA Comprehensive Permit here and the September 25, 2020 HAC Pre-Hearing Order here)
After over a year of ZBA meetings and endless review of legitimate concerns, Surfside Crossing claims the Town of Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals “arbitrarily” and “capriciously” reduced the number of units. Please keep in mind that anyone can purchase these condos.
Our previous newsletter detailed that both the Town of Nantucket and the Nantucket Land Council submitted motions to replace the Presiding Officer of the Housing Appeals Committee citing conflict of interest concerns. At this time, the officer in question, still stands to oversee HAC decision/determination.
Quick summary and actions of Legal Motions that have been filed:
The results of Motions that have been filed thus far - mostly under this new HAC presiding officer appointed in June 2020 – are:
Future timeframe of events:
November 4, 2020 – Deadline for Surfside Crossing to file their case trying to prove that the 60-unit plan approved by the ZBA and all the conditions of the plan (setbacks, appropriate lighting, etc.) are “uneconomic” and “arbitrary”.
December 16, 2020 – Deadline for the Town of Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals to file their direct case as to why the permit detailing the decision and conditions issued in
June of 2019 should be upheld.
January 20, 2021 – Deadline for Surfside Crossing rebuttal of ZBA’s direct case filed
on December 16, 2020.
February 17, 2021–Deadline for Town of Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals rebuttal of Surfside Crossing case filed on January 20, 2021.
February 24, 2021- Teleconference to schedule witnesses (for both SSX and TON) shall take place. The witness list can be found on the Order of Conditions here. Both the Town of Nantucket and Surfside Crossing can “strike any witness and any testimony from the record". While both Nantucket Tipping Point and Nantucket Land Council were denied as interveners, we are lucky to have Bruce Perry, environmental consultant and longtime island resident, and Emily Molden, Executive Director of Nantucket Land Council, listed as proposed witnesses.
March 3, 2021- At 10:00 a.m. The oral portion of the hearing will be held at Nantucket Town Hall. This meeting will be followed by a site visit. Nantucket Tipping Point encourages all who are on island during this hearing period to attend the hearing and let HAC know your concerns. Additional sessions will be scheduled at the Committee’s offices in Boston.
Please know that we have always understood that 40B laws favor developers. The cards are stacked against the communities that are impacted by high-density developments, communities looking to mitigate the damage caused. Nantucket Tipping Point is committed to see this fight through, regardless of how difficult it is.
Last, but certainly not least, we would like to recognize the Nantucket Land Council and the Town of Nantucket for their tremendous and consistent support with their filing of Motions and Appeals in Nantucket Superior Court to challenge the determination and advocate for local review of the substantial changes to the Surfside Crossing development. We also could not work to protect Nantucket for future generations without the support of hundreds of Nantucket Community members – thank you!
On October 2, 2020, the State of Massachusetts finalized the drinking water standards for PFAS that were in draft form since December 2019.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has set the Maximum Contaminant Level at 20 Parts Per Trillions (PPT) for the sum of six PFAS chemicals (PFAS6): PFOS, PFOA, PFDA, PFHpA, PFHxS and PFNA for all public water systems except transient non-community public water systems i.e. Golf courses, restaurants, motels, campgrounds and parks.
Acting proactively, Wannacomet Water Company, (The island’s public water supplier, tested five drinking water wells in early September for PFAS. Three drinking water wells came back with no PFAS compounds detected. Two drinking water wells came back with PFAS detected, but below the 20 PPT standard. Well 13 had 7.26 PPT and well 15 had 2.54 PPT. Detection of PFAS in public water supplies triggers Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Confirmatory sampling. Confirmatory results found levels of Non Detect in the drinking water well number 13 and results on well number 15 showed 2ppt so another set of testing results have been taken. Nantucket Tipping Point will provide updates as the information is made available..
Nantucket Airport continues the research and study the presence of PFAS in drinking water wells associated with the release of firefighting foam. The presence of PFAS in excess of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection reportable concentration levels have been reported and a larger area of study is currently going on. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will continue to evaluate and will expand the area as necessary.
Due to the ubiquitous nature of PFAS and the quickly evolving science pertaining to fate and transport of PFAS, source evaluation will be an on-going evaluation as data, sources, geology, etc. become available.
Most recently 8 soil samples were collected in the vicinity of Nantucket Memorial Airport’s Taxiway E. One sample detected PFOA above the Massachusetts Contingency Plan Soil Standard.
Meanwhile, Nantucket is leading the way in PFAS-free firefighter turnout gear. Firefighter Sean Mitchell has been presenting on multiple outlets and the Town of Nantucket has just granted funding for new turnout gear for the fire department that is PFAS free.
Nantucket Tipping Point will continue to attend meetings and keep you informed as more information is made available.
Have you had your drinking water tested or your blood tested for PFAS chemicals? Do you need help interpreting the results? Nantucket Tipping Point’s friend Dr. Laurel Schaider at the Silent Spring Institute, a world-renowned organization that has been leading the fight against environmental pollutants for decades, has created a helpful website here to help you better understand what your results mean and how to help limit your PFAS exposure. Nantucket Tipping Point looks forward to more collaborations with Dr. Schaider and the Silent Spring Institute.
Once again, October marks the end of NTP’s $20,000 Match. We are so thankful for those who have helped donated so far, and ask that, if you can’ please make a tax-deductible donation to NTP here.
September 11, 2020
PFAS and Nantucket
In July, Nantucket Tipping Point sponsored a PFAS (pre-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) webinar hosted by John Coon, JD, PhD that explained what PFAS is, the cause of PFAS contamination, and the potential hazards - especially given Nantucket's sole-source aquifer. Dr. Coon addressed the complexity of this issue including the health, legal, environmental, and ethical concerns. He also held a question and answer session after his presentation.
You may recall that Dr. Coon spoke at a Surfside Crossing Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing in 2018. He focused on Nantucket’s carrying capacity, highlighting the danger of PFAS contamination and our sole-source aquifer and urged us to be aware of potential sources on the island.
The webinar was made available to the public by NCTV18 and was accessible live, on Zoom, and the NCTV18 YouTube channel. It is also available here.
This webinar was very timely given that PFAS levels at Nantucket Airport monitoring wells, along with the wells of private homes near the airport, have been tested and came back with higher than allowable detection amounts. To date, 14 out of 48 wells have tested at unsafe levels of PFAS. Many members of the public have been encouraging the Wannacomet Water Company to test the Public Water Supply since it has not been tested since 2013. The state allowable levels for PFAS were updated in late 2019. Wannacomet Water Company began testing the public water supply last week and results will be back roughly 10 business days later. Nantucket Tipping Point will post the results here when they become available.
Surfside Crossing Update
The project is currently at the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) in Boston with hearings starting very soon with a pre-hearing conference on September 16, 2020. Both the Town of Nantucket and the Nantucket Land Council submitted motions to replace the newly appointed Presiding Officer of the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), Werner Lohe, citing conflict of interest concerns. Both motions were denied.
Mr. Lohe also denied motions by Nantucket Tipping Point and the Nantucket Land Council to intervene as interested parties, thereby denying them an official seat at the table. This means that Nantucket Town Counsel will be the only party in attendance to defend against Surfside Crossing's appeal of the Zoning Board of Appeal's 60-unit permit. (see timeline here).
Over the objections of Nantucket Tipping Point, Nantucket Land Council, and the Town of Nantucket, the Housing Appeals Committee determined that the new 156-unit, all condominium plan submitted by Surfside Crossing was an “insubstantial” change to the original plan submitted in 2017 (see timeline and images images here). Town counsel has filed a complaint in the Nantucket Superior Court seeking judicial review of that decision as arbitrary and capricious, and requesting that the matter be remanded (to the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals), citing the removal of single family homes, increase in building height and number of parking spaces, change in the landscape plans, and the decrease in usable open space and perimeter buffer areas, among several other changes.
The new Presiding Officer, Mr. Lohe, also denied a Motion to Stay filed by Town Counsel which asked that the Housing Appeals Committee delay the September 16, 2020 pre-hearing conference between themselves and Surfside Crossing until the Superior Court rules on the complaint mentioned above arguing that “The Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) proceedings overlap significantly and exist on a parallel track with the Superior Court case. The Superior Court’s decision, however, will impact these HAC proceedings as it will result in the resolution of certain issues also pending before this adjudicatory body, one way or another…Therefore, it would be unnecessarily duplicative to proceed with the conferences and hearings before the Housing Appeals Committee in this case while the Superior Court action is pending. Specifically, where these parallel proceedings affect the same project determinations, contain the same issues, and impact the same parties, they are so closely related that the judgment of the Superior Court will necessarily have an impact on the HAC proceeding".
What Happens Next:
Nantucket Superior Court rules on Town Counsel’s complaint seeking judicial review of Housing Appeal's Committee's decision that the changes in the Surfside Crossing plan are “insubstantial”.
Although Nantucket Tipping Point was denied the ability to be an intervener at the Housing Appeals Committee hearings, and therefore does not have an official “seat at the table", we will continue to monitor the hearing process at the Housing Appeals Committee and keep you posted.
Two generous Nantucket Tipping Point supporters have created the opportunity for a $20,000 match challenge. Given the realities of fundraising during Covid, we have extended the deadline through October. Financial support for Nantucket Tipping Point has always represented a true cross section of the Nantucket community with donations from $5 to $10,000 being gratefully received! Please donate – in any amount – here. Thank you!
July 3, 2020
PFAS contamination found in wells on Nantucket
In 2018, attorney John Coon, PhD, JD on behalf of Nantucket Tipping Point, brought the issue of groundwater contamination by chemicals such as PFAS and PFOS to the attention of the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals and the approximately 100 community members present at the meeting.
On April 29, 2020 Weston Solutions, an “environmental and infrastructure “ consultant that deals with hazardous waste and its remediation, issued an Immediate Response Action Plan (linked below) for Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK). This plan is a preliminary evaluation of the groundwater contamination in the airport area – “preliminary” because most of the properties in question are seasonal and the consultants were not able to get access to test the well water. The areas of immediate concern are at the airport and the 22 properties south of the airport in a residential area along Madequecham Valley Road. Of the drinking water supply and monitoring wells that were tested, the presence of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was confirmed (in varying concentrations). Some of the levels of PFAS are at “concentrations representative of a potential Imminent Hazard (IH) condition if the water were to be consumed”. The report goes on to say that "Additional water supply sampling may be required in residences located west of ACK, along Monohansett Road and Okorwaw Avenue, if it is determined that those residences are not supplied with municipal water."
PFOS and PFAS are chemicals found in the fire-fighting foam used at airports for drills, training, and emergencies. The report states that “ACK is in the process of switching to fluorine-free foam, any potential release(s) are believed to be historical.” And that the use of PFAS-containing foam is not “anticipated unless in response to an aircraft incident.”
There are several reasons to be very concerned:
See Links below for the reports submitted to the Nantucket Memorial Airport from Weston Solutions:
June 12, 2020