Save Cranberry Farming
The recent announcement that the Harwich Conservation Trust is seeking to purchase the Jenkins property that includes 20 acres of cranberry bogs is of interest. Preserving additional open space for public use is honorable and important for the environment and the community. But cranberry production is a vital part of the history and economy of Harwich (my great grandfather was a grower on Main Street.) Seems to me we would be better served in providing an affordable lease option to a grower or even subsidizing production to keep our agricultural heritage alive. Taking the bogs out of production means they are lost forever. I urge the HCT and the town to consider an option that will maintain the viability of our cranberry agricultural heritage.
John H. Verrill
Harwich and Hebron, Md.
Airport Layout Plan Is Misleading
An updated Chatham Airport Layout Plan (ALP) was submitted to the FAA last year. It was not discussed by an Airport Commission quorum in a public meeting, or with the Town as Airport Sponsor. It contains contradictory and concerning information, which affects the Chatham Community.
The highest point on Great Hill on the flight path is 70 feet above the runway threshold. However two drawings in the ALP show a maximum height of 34 feet above the runway. This is major misinformation, but it is made worse by the fact that at the higher location there is an approximately 35-foot house. The roof of the house is therefore around 105 feet above the runway threshold. The statement at the last Airport Commission about planes not flying lower in poor visibility is irrelevant, since the standard, safest three-degree glide-path would already put a five-ton plane less than 50 feet above the roof top of this $2.15M house in good visibility. There are another 11 houses at the top of Great Hill, all on ground 41 feet above the runway and overall 46 properties requiring avigation easements are identified. Worse yet, another drawing shows an impossible 40:1 departure surface requiring even more easements and which has never even been mentioned previously.
The ALP also presents “ultimate runway data,” which is revealing. Only approaches with a 20:1 slope and without vertical guidance are specified. The ultimate approach minimums are shown unchanged from the present, and exclude approaches in poor visibility. Both of these would seem to render the AMPU process an exercise in futility. The Airport Runway Design Code is shown unchanged for the future as “B-I-5000”, which excludes planes with an approach speed greater than 139 mph, landings in visibility of less than 5,000 feet (one mile), and exclusion of planes in the “II” design group with a wingspan greater than 49 feet, which is being violated by the Pilatus PC-12 turbojets.
The ALP is very misleading, contradictory and disingenuous, and shows a flagrant disregard for FAA required community input. It received FAA approval after a very limited review that did not include “physical development involved in the proposal” (sic). This rushed and flawed ALP was approved and submitted by just one Airport Commissioner. This should be properly addressed by the elected representatives of the Town as sponsor of the Airport.
Protect Our Natural Environment
As the people of Chatham decide on sites for much needed additional affordable housing, it is essential our natural environment be protected. I understand town land off Middle Road is part of the discussion for development for this purpose. If this parcel is considered, careful attention should be given to its natural and sensitive environment.
I am told that this vast forest off Middle Road was purchased for open space by the taxpayers of Chatham years ago. Open space of this type provides our natural environment with many benefits by giving plants and wildlife habitat, improves air quality, decreases air pollution, reduces noise, and cleans up contaminants. There are wetlands on this property which contribute to its sensitivity. Wetlands help improve water quality and can abate any flood waters.
During a time when Chatham’s pristine lands are being gobbled up by real estate development, it is essential the site off Middle Road should only be a part of the solution for affordable housing. Prioritization should be given to existing developed properties and less sensitive parcels before the Middle Road site is selected. If Middle Road is chosen for this type of development, smaller and less intrusive buildings should be carefully designed to protect the valuable ecosystem this land offers.
Robert Del Vecchio