Stop work order issued on mountainside development

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

DENMARK — A stop work order has been issued by the town of Denmark on any building or plumbing permits on a controversial logging road constructed last fall on the back side of Pleasant Mountain.

Selectmen authorized Code Enforcement Officer Mike Lee to issue the order in a formal letter to the property owner, Gordon Pulsifer, who owns 1,133 acres of steeply-sloping previously undeveloped forestland leading up the mountain off the Denmark Road. The land is valued by the town at $297,500.

Lee’s Feb. 18 letter to Pulsifer gives him 30 days to complete a written erosion and sedimentation plan for the three-mile gated logging road, “based on several areas of your newly-constructed road having 10% or greater grades.” Lee was on administrative leave from his post as CEO when the road was constructed.

“This didn’t happen on my watch,” he told selectmen in briefing them on the code violation at their Feb. 10 meeting.

Lee said he wasn’t qualified to assess erosion issues, particularly with regard to upcoming spring runoff, and that Pulsifer would need to hire an engineer at his cost to prepare a plan that would need to meet both local and state approval and be executed within 60 days. “You need someone qualified when you put a road in from the bottom to the top (of Pleasant Mountain) that’s three miles long with grades more than 10%,” he told the board.

Lee said he and Selectman Richard Snow met with Pulsifer in November and travelled the road. He followed up with a letter issuing his findings of fact and a request to meet in person, but Pulsifer has not responded to the request. He also didn’t receive a reply when he called in December. In a subsequent call in January, Pulsifer told Lee he his lawyer was reviewing the findings and that he would get back to Lee in 10 days.

“That would have been 18 days ago, and I have had no response,” Lee wrote in his letter.

Selectman Chairman Beverly Caparco expressed dismay that the board hadn’t been kept apprised of the issue.

“Why hasn’t he been shut down until he gets a plan in place?” she asked. Lee replied, “There’s nothing to shut down, because it is all built.

Lee said state Department of Environmental Protection officials have toured the road and “They have said he has done a really good job.” But just what Pulsifer is going to use the property for “is still in question.”

Khiel Logging did the logging on the road and obtained the proper permits, Lee said.

“They got a permit by rule to cross the stream” that bisects the road at one point. The property lies in the Shoreland Zone at the bottom end and is also in the Aquifer Protection Zone.

The town lists the property as being owned since July of 2014 by the Pulsifer Land Company LLC of Hanover, Mass.

 

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