Here is the latest article documenting wetlands violations and zoning violations by Chelmsford Town Building Inspector Scott Hammond. Mr. Hammond has been dumping fill in town-owned protected wetlands behind his house in Billerica for years, partly so that he can park construction equipment there. And he installed several structures that encroach on town-owned land, including a swimming pool after filing plans with Billerica that showed the swimming pool in a different location (on his own land).
In the article, Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen states that during his employ with the Town of Chelmsford, “there have been no concerns about Hammond's job performance.”
However, Mr Hammond issued the unlawful town building permit ignoring the preservation restriction on 9 North Road and removing a major impediment to the Eliopoulos consortium’s unlawful construction activities. Paul Cohen knows that the building permit is unlawful; he has admitted that he believes that the Preservation Restriction is being violated.
Yet Paul Cohen now says that he has no concerns about Hammond’s job performance. That means that either Hammond checked with Cohen before issuing the permit, or Cohen feels it’s OK for the Building Inspector to unilaterally decide to help the Eliopoulos consortium even in violation of the law.
The selectmen also didn’t raise a finger last summer to either stop Hammond or rectify his malfeasance afterward. I complained at the time that the building permit is unlawful, and I continue to insist that the selectmen and the town manager move to correct the malfeasance that has occurred. Jon Kurland and Paul Cohen both characterize my insistence on upholding the law on behalf of their constituents (including me) as “a vendetta.”
Vendetta or not, there’s no question that Mr. Hammond is not a trustworthy employee. Where on earth did the thousands of yards of fill come from? I wonder if he will accuse the selectmen and town manager of a “vendetta” if they fire him for refusing to uphold the law, and for flouting the law?
From the article, “Cohen said yesterday it was hard to draw a conclusion without the facts and that he was waiting to see documentation from Billerica before making any decisions about Hammond's job. If the allegations of zoning violations are true, Cohen said, it puts the situation in a different light. "It's like a police officer committing a crime in another town, he said.”
So dumping thousands of yards of fill into town owned wetlands, a violation of federal wetland protection laws, is a non-issue for Cohen, but if Mr. Hammond’s in violation of a Billerica zoning ordinance, it puts the situation in a different light? It’s pretty clear that Paul Cohen just doesn’t get it; what Scott Hammond did is wrong, Billerica zoning ordinances or not, and it breaks federal laws.
Firing Mr. Hammond is not the final step, but it should be the first step. The unlawful construction permit should be rescinded if possible, and the town should stop fighting depositions to find out what really happened. Mr. Kurland insists “nobody has done anything wrong,” yet he’s been fighting his own deposition for months and has instructed town counsel to fight all depositions regarding 9 North Road. That’s one of the many reasons why he and the other selectmen under recall need to follow Mr. Hammond out the door.
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew