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Location: 0 Rear Pond St., Carver MA / Robbins path
 

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  • Owner:  AD Makepeace Cranberry, Wareham MA. 

  • Volume of Earth Removal: Unknown. 

  • Earth Removal Permit: The Robbins Path-Swan Holt bog area corresponds to the area identified by the Carver Earth Removal Committee permit files as “Robbins Pt.”  The Carver street named Robins Path accesses AD Makepeace’s Swan Holt bogs where mining has occurred for decades. 

  • Claimed Reason for Mining: Cranberry agriculture, large ground mounted solar on cleared and mined land, and on agricultural canal.

  • Area impacted: The Swan Holt bogs total about 135 acres of actual cranberry bogs within a land parcel of about 539 acres (recently subdivided to go from 560 to 539 acres) in north Carver. Land around the historical bogs has been mined and covered with bogs and a pond. In about 2019  A.D. Makepeace and Renewable Energy Development Partners (REDP) obtained Carver Planning Board approval for a 3 megawatt solar canopy over an agricultural canal and a 1.4 megawatt ground mounted solar installation on land that was cleared and mined for the purpose of solar. REDP is a company formed by former A.D. Makepeace executives who worked in the company’s real estate division.

  • Land clearing and mining for solar is documented in the minutes of the Carver Planning Board and by aerial photos. See, Carver Planning Board: Nov. 25, 2019  minutes of public hearing and others.  Consultant Beals & Thomas stated: “Area was earmarked for sand and gravel. It made sense to direct the project there. The crops beneath will not be cranberries. Mr Ouimet [REDP] our proposed use is similar to the [REDP dual use solar] Gate Street project. We are going to turn it into productive farming land.  Ms. Stearns [Beals & Thomas] It is about 8 acres with the project itself at about 6 acres. That part would require a new road that Jesse can review….” Other part is dual use solar canopy over either side of the canal, 5,500 linear feet….no impact…use Wenham St. for access. “Mr. Robinson-The canopy will be about 1 mile in length?” Ms. Stearns-Yes but not necessarily contiguous. Mr. Robinson-Land Clearing? No just a little bit for shade clearing (refer to 108 and fall hazard)”

  • Documentation of clearing and mining is below.

Below: West Side, April 2005, 60 forested acres in the center of the site - portion mined and covered with bog (green outline)

Below: West Side 2012 (green outline) Portion of 60 acre area mined and covered with bogs. A pond is constructed in the aquifer.

Below: North Side, 2018 before area cleared and mined for solar

Below: February 2021, North Side, land being cleared for solar.

Below: North Side October 2021 while clearing and mining

Below: North Side March 2021 while clearing and mining

Below: North Side, piles of earth material at solar site, Feb. 11, 2022

Below: North Side, July 2023 ground mounted solar installed.

Below: East Side: 2023 Solar canopy installed

Below: East side of site: 2023: mining to east of solar canopy  on canal.

  • Plymouth Carver Aquifer: Yes, pond created in the aquifer.

  • Wetlands and Waterways: Yes. Mining has occurred within areas protected by law. There are no known wetlands permits. The wetlands exemptions for agriculture do not apply because the land mined was forested uplands and not land in agricultural use. The solar site is not agricultural.

Below: 2021 MassMapper GIS shows wetlands on the site

Below: In 2019, East Side, adjacent to solar canopy on canal: mining within 12 feet of wetland.

Below: West side of site, 2021: mining within 54 feet of perennial stream (per MassMapper GIS). 

Below: 2021 North Side, location of ground mounted solar and solar canopy: mining in and adjacent to wetlands (cranberry bog, canals, Wooded Swamp).

Below: Location of solar canopy and mining described above.

  • Archaeological Impacts: Yes. The Swan Holt bog complex area is one most archaeologically significant in Eastern Massachusetts.  The area was known to Indigenous Native Americans as “Swan Hold.” The Massachusetts Archeological Society documents the Native American archeology at Swan Hold in bulletins from 1952 to 1997 available here and on line here. The area is said to have “considerable evidence of aboriginal occupation over an extended time, from the Paleo occupation down to the more recent Ceramic Age.” Vol 32, Nos. 3&4, 1971, page 1 (Roach) The 1967 report includes an article: “Cremation Cult of the Dead at Swan Hold”.

Below: From the 1976 edition of the Massachusetts Archeological Society Bulletin, 3&4, page 1. “Recent finds at Swan Hold” in Carver.

A 2/11/2020 Letter to AD Makepeace and REDP Solar from the  Mass. Historical Commission states this is a site with “ancient Native American archeological sites that include unmarked human burials”. The MHC and the company refuse to disclose whether AD Makepeace and REDP have protected the known Indigenous Native American cultural finds on the site. Whether Makepeace and REDP disclosed the full extent of the earth disturbance for the 2020 solar project to MHC is also unknown. Satellite images show the extent of the mining and land disturbance in the area. There is no evidence that in 2020, A.D. Makepeace and REDP conducted a Section 106 Consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act . The company’s application failed to disclose material facts about the archeological features of the site in the EPA Clean Water Act NPDES permit certification for the REDP solar project. It was signed under oath on February 13, 2020 by Hank Ouimet President of REDP.

  • Ecosystem: Wetlands, perennial stream, Waters of the United States

  • Public Subsidies A.D. Makepeace receives large agricultural subsidies from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture for “cranberry farming”. The company also benefits from the technical assistance provided to “cranberry growers” by the UMass Cranberry Extension Service, a taxpayer funded program to help the cranberry industry. In April 2023, the Extension Service broke ground on an $8 million expansion of the Cranberry Station in East Wareham. A.D. Makpeace’s CEO and President and Board Chair were in attendance.

A.D. Makepeace also benefits from ratepayer subsidies by leasing its land for solar projects that are subsidized under the state SMART Solar Program administered by Mass. Department of Energy Resources. U.S. Department of Energy federal subsidies are provided to DOER for the state’s solar program.

This site has been in land in “Chapter 61”.

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