Brayton Point Nonprofit Returns Unused Money to Somerset
Last night at the Somerset Board of Selectman meeting, local nonprofit group Save Our Bay Brayton Point closed one chapter in the fight against noise and pollution in their community.
The group petitioned the town in 2020, asking for the funds to assist with the fight, with plans to use the funds for noise and dust monitoring as well as educating the community on pollution. Residents at the town meeting that December voted in favor of the $10,000 being given to the group from free cash but the funds were not distributed to the group until summer 2021, after the resignation of former selectman Holly McNamara.
However, the group stated that because of generous donations of both time and money from community members, the funds ultimately were never used.
The group was embroiled in a legal battle with the owners of a scrap metal company for over a year, with the group advocating for the cease-and-desist of scrap metal operations at the site of the former Brayton Point Power Plant. Judge Foster of the Massachusetts Land Court ruled in favor of the town.
Subsequently, all scrap operations have stopped and the company's lease with the property owners has been terminated.
With the cases closed and no further appeals on the horizon, Save Our Bay Brayton Point was ready to close the chapter on the scrap that has been negatively impacting the community for years. Manufacturing of wind energy components is slated for the site in the near future.
Former Somerset Selectman Kathy Souza, who won a special election to fill the seat vacated by McNamara, was a founding member of SOBBP.
"I am very pleased that the three lawsuits ended as they did. It was the best outcome. SOBBP being able to give back the generous amount of money to the town is an even better outcome for us. We are hopeful the attorney general's investigation is wrapping up soon and we can put closure to this whole ordeal."
Read Kardel's full statement to the board below:
I am here on behalf of the non-profit organization, Save Our Bay Brayton Point, Inc.. Over the past three years, residents of Somerset, Swansea, Fall River and our neighboring communities have documented on an almost daily basis through photos, videos, and aerial footage the dust, noise, health, and environmental issues arising out of the scrap metal operation taking place at 1 Brayton Point Road. In March of this year, after over a year of court litigation including depositions, court hearings, a five day trial, and testimony from over a dozen of residents, the Honorable Judge Robert Foster of the Massachusetts Land Court ordered that the scrap metal operation cease and desist its operations. Judge Foster’s decision was not appealed by the owners of the property, the lease between the owner of the property and the scrap metal company was terminated, and the scrap metal operation officially ceased its operation at Brayton Point.
In addition to scrap metal, the owner of the property had also requested permission to expand operations at Brayton Point into a "commodities port" which would involve trucking and shipping dozens of commodities, including but not limited to fly ash, gypsum, concrete products, fertilizers, and chemicals at Brayton Point. Our Zoning Board denied that request citing concerns over dust, noise, truck traffic, and the health and safety of the residents. The owners of the property also appealed that denial to the Land Court. On August 16, 2022, Brayton Point LLC voluntarily dismissed its appeal thereby ending all litigation pending with the Land Court.
In December of 2020, the residents of Somerset voted at Town Meeting to provide $10,000 to Save Our Bay Brayton Point to assist the group with funding towards noise monitoring, testing for dust in the neighborhood, and further education regarding the pollution in the surrounding neighborhoods and towns. We are forever grateful for this support from the Town. Due to very generous supporters, who volunteered both their time as well as financially, the funding from the Town, which was received in the summer of 2021, was not needed or used. Accordingly, we are thrilled to be able to return the $10,000.00 plus interest as voted by the SOBBP Board on Sunday, August 28, 2022.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the residents of the town that supported us throughout these very trying times. While we pray that no neighborhood in our Town or anywhere else is ever subjected to these types of pollution again, we are confident that the residents of Somerset will be there to support one another and protect our rights to clean air, clean water, and the peaceful enjoyment of our homes. Thank you once again for your support."