(NECN: Lauren Collins, Plum Island, Mass.) - Newbury, Mass. town officials thought they got the green light to move forward on permits for three Plum Island properties that had to be torn down after the March nor'easter.
"One home, Harry Trout's home, has been remanded back to the local commission," said Conservation Commissioner Doug Packer, based on a call he got from state officials last week. "There are no additional requirements for Mr. Trout. And the other two they have pledged not to intervene."
But in an email to NECN, the DEP says it has not withdrawn intervention on Trout's property because his application "was insufficient and did not comply with the performance standards as required under the (Wetlands Protection) Act ... MassDEP has sent Mr. Trout a request for more information in order to ensure that his application complies with the performance standards moving forward."
"They look for every reason why to make it difficult," said Trout, standing in front of an empty lot on Fordham Way.
Trout is concerned about two deed conditions.
One stipulates, "Any new coastal engineering structure, including but not limited to bulkheads, revetments or seawalls, shall not be permitted."
The other states that, "Upon taking the property, the Applicant/Owner ... assumed the risk of shoreline erosion...and acknowledge that neither the Town nor the Commonwealth ... need consent to any new measure which will have an adverse impact on natural coastal processes..."
In other words, the property owner can't turn to the town or state for help with erosion issues that threaten their home.
Both conditions remain in effect in perpetuity.
"They're saying to you 'you can't defend your property'," said Trout.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, working on behalf of Plum Island residents, wrote the DEP last week citing prior cases that find such permanent deed conditions unconstitutional. But the DEP says those conditions come from the wetlands protection act.
Trout doesn't know what he'll do next.
"I'm standing here disgusted that we have political officials that are making decisions that are against the constitution. The right to protect your property. Isn't that something?" he said.