Activists call for full review of Makepeace’s work

Jun 6, 2022

While A.D. Makepeace has requested to be released from a special environmental review of its developments, it’s facing opposition.

Save the Pine Barrens and the Community Land and Water Coalition have filed a 150-page document with the state, arguing that Makepeace has not fully disclosed the environmental impact of its work. The groups, which focus on protecting the region’s natural resources, say that Makepeace has knowingly submitted false or incomplete information to the state in the company’s effort to be released from the review process.

A.D. Makepeace, the world’s largest cranberry grower, has in recent decades expanded to develop homes and offices. In 2007, the company launched a several-decades-long project set to develop large swaths of land in Wareham and surrounding towns.

But CEO Jim Kane says that those plans no longer make sense, due to a variety of factors. Instead the company is turning its focus to solar, which Kane said brings less environmental damage than subdivisions.

So, he looked to close out the special environmental review process, which was originally planned to last until 2032.

Save the Pine Barren’s comment to the state, written by Meg Sheehan, is an urgent call for better oversight of Makepeace’s work.

Of particular concern is the company’s sand mining — Wareham residents asked the town to audit the sand removal of Makepeace and other companies at a recent Town Meeting.

Sheehan wrote that Makepeace has a history of “unregulated, uncontrolled and environmentally disastrous aggregate mining and processing causing unmitigated and unreviewed Damage to the Environment.”

She referenced a 2022 United Nations report about the massive destruction caused by sand mining globally, and said that sand mining is a threat to the water quality in the aquifer that provides the region with clean water.

Sheehan contests Kane’s claim that solar fields are a better environmental outcome than the originally planned subdivisions and offices.

“Strip mining and hauling away tens of millions of cubic yards of sand and gravel and denuded forested lands and rendering them sterile removes groundwater protection,” Sheehan wrote, adding that sand mining requires washing sand, and that some 900,000 tractor trailer trips have hauled sand off site.

Sheehan’s report argues that A.D. Makepeace has failed to comply with state regulations and started new solar projects without alerting the state. The report also includes a quote from Kane’s appearance at a 2016 Wareham Planning Board Meeting, where he stated that solar fields may only last for 20 years. Once that lease is up, he said, the solar company could remove its panels and make way for a subdivision. 

Makepeace has claimed that much of its earth removal is for agricultural use on bogs. 

“Where ADM has claimed the earth is removed for use on its own bogs, the volumes of earth belie this claim: it is simply impossible that the millions of cubic yards removed was used on ADM’s “own landholdings” for bog sanding and/or construction,” Sheehan wrote.

To read the complete report, click here.