OBSERVER CORPS REPORT JUNE 2023
Board of Health, 2023
The Board of Health has two new members. Returning member John Waterbury came on to replace Steven Rafferty whose term expired. Amy Roth, replaced Ben Van Mooy who had to leave the Board due to time constraints from his job. Amy has appeared before the Board frequently as a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
The AutoCamp at 836 Palmer Ave. has been before the Board continuously since last year to explain the ongoing efforts to remedy the noncompliance of the conditions of the original approval to install an alternative septic system. Members of the public from Sippiwissett spoke before the Board urging the closure of the Autocamp until all problems are rectified. Representatives from the AutoCamp were required to appear before the Board once a month to present updates to their ongoing efforts to come into compliance. Some things they were required to do were to provide a timeline for treatment, pump wastewater off site for treatment, test daily for nitrogen percentages, and upgrade treatment equipment.
As more engineers appear before the Board seeking approval to install Innovative/Alternative (I/A) systems either in new construction or to replace existing systems, the Board is trying to steer them to manufacturers with proven records of the required nitrogen reduction. The property owner is responsible for the required amount of testing per year and payment of any fines if the system fails. The Board is trying to prevent these problems which could arise with a substandard system.
The owners of the Falmouth Heights Motor Lodge were called before the Board due to a drowning in their pool which occurred prior to its opening last May. The pool was not yet open for the season and had not yet been inspected. It was discovered that the code to access the pool was available to anyone as it was on the board in the office and there was no second lock in use at the time. The owners were given until July 1 to remedy the situation with one member feeling that this was too lenient for a drowning.
The SMART (Southeast Massachusetts Regional Transportation) Citizens Task Force has appeared before the Board to try to find a solution to the truck traffic, noise, and pollution on Woods Hole Rd. Discussions have followed about licensing trucks, whether it is the responsibility of the state or town to set the guidelines, and whether the responsibility falls on Falmouth or the Vineyard. Mr. McGann reiterated the nuisance regulations currently in place under MGL, and how the Health Department staff has the ability to address those concerns. The concern of the Board of Health is mainly towards making sure the septage trucks are sealed to prevent leakage, not necessarily toward traffic and mechanical issues of the trucks. Mr. Heufelder advocated that the town use embarkation fee funds to at least have a police officer in the area almost full time to monitor idling. Mr. Heufelder stated that he would be in favor of the Board of Health supporting and writing to the Selectman about this, as idling is a health issue.
Smoke shop violations have come up on various occasions. Kappy’s failed to obtain an annual tobacco sales permit when they did not realize that the license had expired. They were granted a temporary license while getting the proper paperwork. There was also a violation for an underage sale. The Falmouth Smoke Shop had three violations for selling flavored vapes. They had to close for 30 days. Four violations would mean permanent closure. In the midst of this the shop was sold to people with the same name. There had to be proof that there was no financial connection between the new and previous owners so that previous violations would not carry over to the new owners. If a license is suspended it is gone. There are only a certain number of licenses that will be granted in the town. The Village Pantry in North Falmouth was also cited for a second violation within 36 months which requires a fine of $2,000 and a one-week license suspension.
Housing issues are always interesting. One property had been in violation of the code for Maintenance of Areas Free from Garbage and Rubbish since 2015. They were cited for an excess of junk on the property making it look like a demolition project. It appears that it goes in cycles from being better to being bad. Another property was in violation of the State Housing Code where a leak in an unoccupied upstairs apartment was causing damage to the apartment downstairs where the tenants were without water and electricity. The landlord was refusing access. The owner stated that she did not know about the problem until a notice was posted on the door. She paid a fine with a promise that the problem would be remedied. All of this requires time for site visits, letters, and fines. It is the policy of the Board to try to get compliance rather than charge a hefty fine. They always try to work with the person in violation.
After the defeat of Article #18 to eliminate use of single use plastic, it was determined that a committee should be formed to develop methods for working with restaurants, groceries, markets, and other large users of single use plastic to help them voluntarily ease away from the plastics and find alternatives. The Select Board suggested that there should be a representative from the BOH on this new committee. Amy Roth will be the representative.
The Board continued to work with the Solid Waste Advisory Committee on issues concerning the collection and disposal of solid waste, recyclable materials, and compost. The differences between residential and commercial generators, all of which must recycle, should be made clear. The Board has worked with the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to form a regulation to clarify these distinctions. The Board is allowed to create rules and regulations regarding these issues. The Mass DEP has made it illegal to put recyclables in the trash, but without a regulation there is no way to enforce it. The question was discussed about what to do when customers are not in compliance since it is the hauler who gets the ticket when the load is in violation. The hauler needs to make the Board aware of serious waste ban violations, repeat offenders, and any noncompliance. Alan Robinson from the Solid Waste Advisory Committee inquired about the best way to educate the public. Distribution of tip sheets was suggested. Mr. Robinson is working to encourage the DPW to restore recycling drop off for cans/ bottles. This is being discussed and considered with the DPW, and there is a new contractor who supports the idea. The restoring of recycling and conversations between the DPW may be a topic that Mr. McGann can advise on.
The Aids Support Group of Cape Cod went before the Board with an update of its activities. They will be leaving their brick and mortar quarters in Teaticket and becoming entirely mobile. They provide Narcan, a shower program, clean clothing, counseling, housing, and recovery aid.
Representatives from Learn to Cope and Support Group of Cape Cod discussed an initiative to install NaloxBoxes in places such as municipal buildings, schools, beaches, bath houses, and targeted businesses to help respond to overdoses. The pros and cons were discussed about having Narcan readily available without any monitoring and making sure that the boxes are always stocked. The intent is to have no barriers to access, like a first aid kit. The Board voted to support this.
The former police chief from Woburn came before the Board outlining his proposal to open a training building for police in Technology Park. It would only be used for training off-season but would be available for community use.
A representative from The Air Force Civil Engineer Center appeared before the Board to give an update of the environmental clean-up at Joint Base Cape Cod.
Meg Paine from the VNA gave a presentation regarding its public health program under the annual contract with Falmouth. Some of the services offered are: wellness programs at the Senior Center, maternal and child health, peri and prenatal visits, home visits for those who qualify, mental health programs, vaccines, and communicable disease surveillance.
The Board is always professional, patient, and courteous to members of the community who appear before it. The members of the Board work well together and discussions are always thorough.
Stephanie Miele, LWVFObserver