Stop Indianhead Realty!

Help defend the character of our neighborhood,
preserve wildlife,
and protect our property values!

There are approximately 40 neighbors that have played an active roll in communicating the level of concern we have in regard to Richard Churchill and Pamela Churchill's gravel mining. Many of us have spoken at public comment meetings, and have been asked to leave the floor open to those who have not spoken.

We need more voices at the next meeting. Could this be you?

Public comments do not have to be long. It can be written before the meeting and you can read it from a printed copy. You do not need to be an "expert," you only need to share your perspective and make the point that this project is detrimental to the neighborhood.

There are several neighbors who are willing to answer any questions you have about speaking, just let us know and we will give you a call or correspond through email.Your voice just may be more powerful than you think...

P.O. BOX 1728




Zoning Board of Appeals
Town of Plymouth
11 Lincoln Street
Plymouth, MA 02360

Dear Chairman Conner:

Re: Comments on Application of Indianhead Realty Inc. for Special Permits (ZBA Case #3734)

The Friends of Ellisville Marsh, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2007 for the sole purpose of restoring and preserving the fisheries and wildlife in Ellisville Marsh. We hold regulatory local, state and federal permits that allow us to perform periodic maintenance of the Ellisville inlet and require us to conduct nine, ongoing environmental monitoring programs as conditions of our regulatory permits.

It has come to our attention that Indianhead Realty Inc. (the Applicant) is again requesting special permits from the Town to excavate and transport approximately 500,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel, in order to construct recreational facilities on his property. The project site is located less than 1,000 feet from Ellisville Marsh, the most significant coastal marsh and estuary system in the Town of Plymouth and the centerpiece of the Ellisville Harbor ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern), one of only two ACECs in Plymouth. As you are aware, the ACEC designation recognizes extremely unique and sensitive environmental resources and imposes the tightest environmental standards that can be applied by the Commonwealth. Moreover, this excavation, a commercial operation tantamount to strip mining, would occur in even closer proximity to a stream that feeds into Ellisville Marsh as well as the ACEC boundary along State Road.

Our organization has serious concerns about the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project. Our specific concerns include the following:

  • Water quality in the marsh could be negatively impacted when sand and gravel removal operations are underway and the wind is blowing from the southwest. The prevailing wind for much of the year is from this direction. Under the right conditions, airborne particulates from the proposed gravel operations and air pollution from heavy equipment involved in the operations will be carried directly into the marsh.
  • Removal of trees at the proposed site could lead to erosion and significant runoff into the herring brook that runs from Savery Pond and into Ellisville Marsh. This brook is a key source of fresh water essential to the Ellisville estuary.
  • Such a massive excavation would also be likely to impact groundwater quality and this in turn could have a negative impact on the Ellisville estuary.
  • Finally, there is a significantly increased risk of fuel spill with the proposed level of heavy vehicle traffic that could directly impact the marsh with catastrophic consequences.

For these reasons, we, the board of directors of the Friends of Ellisville Marsh, Inc., are strongly opposed to this project and urge the ZBA to deny the special permits requested. Notwithstanding our objections to the case before you, we request that you require the Applicant to show that he has filed an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) under MEPA and received a MEPA certificate to ensure that the ACEC is not adversely impacted.

If the Board decides to grant the requested special permits, we ask that strict conditions be imposed on the Applicant to ensure that sand and gravel removal operations include proper environmental controls, be closely monitored, and that these operations be suspended at all times when conditions would carry airborne or waterborne particulates and pollutants toward Ellisville Marsh. Moreover, the risk of contamination from fuel spills could be mitigated by excluding trucks and heavy equipment associated with this operation from route 3A north of the Indianhead curb break and all of Old Sandwich Road.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments and requests.

Board of Directors
Friends of Ellisville Marsh, Inc.
Eric Cody
Frank Doyle
Diane Fletcher
Rebecca Harris
Peter Hruby
Paula Marcoux
Kelley O’Neel
John Scambos
Peter Schwartzman
Brad Winn

Further Comments of Friends of Ellisville Marsh, Inc.
Submitted to Plymouth ZBA Re: Case #3734: Indianhead Realty

The Friends of Ellisville Marsh, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed in mid-2007 by Plymouth residents for the sole purpose of restoring fisheries and wildlife in the 71-acre Ellisville Marsh, which is only 850 feet of the project locus in this case. The marsh lies partly within the Wildlands Trust’s Shifting Lots Preserve and partly in Ellisville Harbor State Park. As such it is entirely preservation land. And it is Special. Ellisville Marsh is one of two designated ACECs (Areas of Critical Environmental Concern) in the town of Plymouth and one of only thirty statewide. It is also one of a small number of sites statewide designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA). It goes without saying that this special place is worth protecting for the sake of Plymoutheans today and for future generations.

We previously submitted a letter dated January 3, 2014 outlining reasons this project concerns us. Our ten-member board doesn’t always agree on everything but in this case we’re unanimously and vehemently opposed to this project for its potential, adverse impacts on Ellisville Marsh and the herring run that connects the marsh with Savery Pond, about ½ mile up Old Sandwich Road. The potentially adverse impacts on the marsh of as many as forty gravel trucks a day pulling out onto State Road also concern us. They would pass within about 500 feet of the marsh. A sketch map showing the project’s close proximity to the marsh, the ACEC boundary and the herring run is provided on page 3 of this submittal.

It’s ironic that our nonprofit group, which has no financial self-interest in restoring and preserving Ellisville Marsh, is being held to a far higher standard of environmental review and monitoring than this proposed, commercial project. This is because the Applicant doesn’t appear to need any state permits. If that turns out to be the case, he isn’t required to submit an environmental notification form (ENF) under MEPA (the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act) as we were. In sharp contrast to this case, the Friends spent two years and approximately $75,000 in regulatory review under MEPA and in subsequent permitting for a project solely pursuing a “public good.” Our supporters have contributed an estimated 7,000 hours of unpaid, volunteer time to this work and we have raised all the necessary funds through private donations and grants. We have received no taxpayer funding. It would be a shame to see years of such unselfish effort by more than 100 residents of our local community compromised by what amounts to a strip mining operation on the very threshold of the Ellisville Harbor ACEC.

What do we ask of the Plymouth ZBA?

1. First and foremost, we ask that you deny the special permits being requested. The proposed use is not appropriate in the zone and on the specific site in question. The Plymouth Zoning Bylaw is quite specific on this point as far as special permits are concerned. What is proposed represents a change from a passive recreational use, e.g., a campground, to a heavy industrial use—the mining and removal of nearly 500,000 cubic yards of material.

2. Secondly, there is a condition stated in the Bylaw for the granting of Special Permits that there will be no nuisance or adverse effect upon the neighborhood. “Neighborhood” in this case includes some extraordinarily sensitive environmental resources. The burden is on the Applicant to show that there will be no adverse impact on the neighborhood, including Ellisville Marsh and the herring run, a burden that the Applicant hasn't even attempted to meet.

We respectfully request that you require the Applicant to submit information on the environmental impacts of his project on Ellisville Marsh, the herring run connecting the marsh and Savery Pond, and the Ellisville Harbor ACEC, similar to what he would have had to file with the Commonwealth if he had fallen under the MEPA umbrella. The ZBA has express authority to request additional information. In the absence of such detailed information it will be difficult, if not impossible, to judge what adverse effects the project might have on the subterranean water table and the ecology in the vicinity of the proposed development, much less take any steps to minimize these impacts, as is required. The Applicant needs to provide specific and scientifically objective information on the impacts of his proposed project on the subterranean water table, flow volumes in the herring run, water quality in and around Ellisville Marsh, air quality including particulates, noise effects on wildlife, the risk of fuel spills, etc. This impact assessment should also account for the prevailing westerly wind in airborne transport of pollution toward Ellisville Marsh.

3. Thirdly, the proposed cuts and grading shown in the submitted plans are in direct conflict with the Zoning Bylaw as this application for Special Permits is subject to Environmental Design Conditions. We ask that the ZBA require the Applicant to demonstrate that there is no feasible, alternative plan for building the recreational facilities that would significantly reduce the volume of material to be excavated and removed, thereby conforming with the Bylaw's requirements and intent.
We sincerely appreciate your willingness to consider our comments and we look forward to following this case closely throughout your deliberations. Thank you.

Bob G.
Ellisville, MA

I'm concerned about the proposed "improvements" at Indianhead campground. I've served on the Board of Directors of Friends of Ellisville Marsh, and although I don't speak for FEM, I share their concerns. I also am an ardent RVer- we've been camping for over 10 years and own a class A RV. We've travelled over 50,000 miles, including 2 round trips of the USA! I may not be an expert on campground management, but I've got plenty of experience in using them. I originally approached this situation with the idea of finding some common ground between campground improvement and environmental concerns.
When I looked at the campground ratings on Woodall's (industry standard), it's rated only as average (3 out of 5 stars) and the facilities below average (2 out of 5 stars). I've never stayed there but did use their dump station after one of our trips. Their campsite hookups are only water and electric, no sewer. Almost all good campgrounds have full hookups (water, electric, sewer, cable TV). This campground has few recreational opportunities, especially no ocean beach access.
Churchill claims that they want to improve the campground by adding athletic fields and a mountain bike trail. If they really wanted to upgrade the campground, they would improve the campsites by adding sewer and cable access at each site. They would also add a swimming pool, a playground and an activity center, which all top rated campgrounds have. The would also add more pull-thru sites for the convenience of the campers. They don't need 2 athletic fields- campers don't field baseball or soccer teams!
This campground has some serious competition in this area and is probably not very profitable. There are many 4-5 star campgrounds from Plymouth to Bourne, not to mention the Cape. Indianhead is not a destination campground, so they would have to create some family friendly activities, and sports fields would NOT be applicable.
I think that the owner wants to convert some of his investment into a faster return. I think what they are really planning is to either create a sand and gravel operation, and/or, once a permit has been obtained, eventually convert the land to an semi-industrial site. A 60 X 80 ft maintenance shed is only useful to house heavy earth moving equipment- it's of no use to a campground!
The Friends of Ellisville marsh have fought for many years to restore marsh health by creating good flushing through the marsh channel. The upper reaches of the marsh are the most vulnerable and would be seriously threatened by silt coming from the sand and gravel removal.
On Indianhead's web site they state they "require guests  to respect nature, property and one another". This proposed operation violates all of the above! The permit should be denied!

Gwen A.
Ellisville, MA

Dear Mr. Connors:

I am writing to you today to express my concern about the Zoning Board of Appeals application, Case NO. 3734, which if approved, would allow a Special Permit for Indianhead Reality Inc. to remove sand and gravel, build a 60’ x 80’ maintenance facility, create two athletic fields and a mountain bike area in a Rural Residential Zone. I urge the Zoning Board to vote against this petition.
Ellisville is truly a unique community. Past the bustling commercial areas of Plymouth and the more “touristy” downtown section, beyond the busy beach community of Manomet, and before the often chaotic Cape Cod “attractions” is an area that is quite pleasantly lost in time. Residents of Ellisville live here because we have a strong connection with nature and we enjoy our environment all year long.

Homeowners are not the only ones who enjoy this remarkable community however, as we have many species of wildlife living among us that many would envy. My husband and I have delighted in watching a juvenile bald eagle learn to fish in Savery Pond over the past two years. In the winter we have a pair of otters that also seem to like the fish in the pond, and can often be seen diving in an out of a hole in the ice that they work diligently to keep open. We also have several packs of  coyotes, red fox and blue heron, along with a plethora of the more commonly seen song birds, turkeys, raccoons, owls, etc. We are extremely fortunate in that we don’t just get to glimpse the wildlife here, we live among it. 

Approval of this application will cause detrimental effects to the character of our community. Removal of up to 499,053 cubic yards of sand and gravel from the land will create noise pollution, increase traffic to an already congested area of town (Cedarville), lower property values, and has the potential to cause harm to the wildlife in neighboring Ellisville Harbor. Further, Richard Churchill has estimated that this project will take four years to complete, essentially turning our neighborhood into a dusty, noisy construction site for the next four years.

It is my understanding that the applicant operates Churchill Engineering, a company that promotes specialization in excavation contacting, and sand, gravel & loam among other things. Richard Churchill’s motives for campground expansion are questionable, as it appears that he may be exploiting our Rural Residential neighborhood for private industry.

Indianhead Resort states on their company web site that they “require guests to respect nature, property, and one another” and that “the campground preserves peace and quiet.” Excavation of 499,053 cubic yards of sand and gravel is neither respectful to nature, property or one another, and it certainly does not preserve peace and quiet.

Indianhead Resort is correct in stating that this is a place where “resting and relaxing in and among the quiet sounds of nature, has been preserved.” Many of the residents of our community have chosen to live here for this very reason, and I humbly request that the Zoning Board of Appeals support the preservation of our neighborhood by voting no, against Case NO. 3734.

Paul M.
Ellisville, MA

(These notes were prepared for presentation to the ZBA Board on 6/18/2014 but were not delivered).

The INDIANHEAD site is unique and far different than other existing excavating sites in Plymouth, and must be evaluated on its own merits. The location of any proposed site and its neighborhood is an integral part of the evaluative criteria that the ZBA must consider in deciding to grant an exception or not. Clearly, an excavation project next to a nursing home would not be allowed.

The Indianhead site is located at probably the worst “bottleneck” in Plymouth where Routes 3A and 3 merge and the summer traffic is backed up 2-4 miles on Route #3.  Cape traffic heading south on Route 3A is heavy from Exits #3 and #4 during the summer months, frequently with 15 to 20 vehicles in tandem, in both directions. (I have personally counted 22 in tandem this year.)  Adding 80 trucks per day at Exit 2, and through the center of Cedarville will make the traffic problems dangerously worse.

The Indianhead site is located on a steep hill with serious blind spots at both intersections of Ellisville Road and Route 3A.   Additionally, in front of the Indianhead site on Route 3A, the traffic downhill is literally a “luge” run, with vehicles going 50-60 mph, with limited visibility and lacking off-road shoulders on either side.

Consider the Entrance to Indianhead
We now ask the Board to consider the scenario of: some 22,500 round-trip trucks or more, made by massive 40-foot long empty semi-trucks, arriving about every 15 minutes or less, heading north and hitting that “luge-run” with cars having speeds of 50 -60 miles per hour around it.  That truck must then come to a full stop, wait for the southern traffic to stop, and then cross the median to enter the site.  That will take about few minutes or more. The potential for rear-end accidents is very likely during peak times.

Add to this scenario, 2-3 empty trucks, fully stopped on Route 3A north, waiting to enter the work site.  And, exiting the site, a fully loaded truck, weighing about 40 tons, must stop, and wait for an opening, then pull out onto Route 3A south, and at best travel at 5-10 miles per hour going up the hill, while the empty trucks then enter the work site, with traffic, say 15 vehicles in both directions stopped, for several minutes. And then envision an emergency vehicle from Cedarville coming over the horizon. Clearly, we will need flashing signs at the top of the hill warning of sudden truck stops, and Police Detail at the site entrance to control this type of situation.

Consider Ellisville Road
Ellisville Road is crescent shaped, it is off Route 3A before the entrance to Indianhead site, and then rejoins Route 3A right after the Indianhead site at the intersection of Old Sandwich Road and Route 3A, just below the entrance to the State Park.

Ellisville Road is one of four roads in Plymouth designated “picturesque”; it winds up and down hills with many blind corners, has children and visitors at the Spring, walkers along the salt marsh, cars parked on the side of the road watching/feeding the swans on Grey’s Fresh Pond, cars parked half on the road and half on the small road shoulders while visitors are filling up jugs of Spring water, and cars stopped and taking pictures of the Scotch Cattle at Kelleher’s Farm.

There are no sidewalks on Ellisville Road and no parking areas.  There is significant pedestrian traffic during fair weather, kids on bikes, and often baby carriages.

If allowed, local traffic will try to bypass the bottlenecks and delays on Route 3A at the Indianhead entrance, and enter Ellisville Road, in both directions, and turn picturesque Ellisville Road into a racetrack, trying to beat the stopped traffic.  We will need additional Police Detail at both ends of Ellisville Road.

Actions of the Town
Senior Town management established, long ago, a program to develop southern Plymouth as a desirable rural residential area and has restricted the area for residential development. Specifically,

The Town encouraged home development in this area. It increased the lot size ensuring significant home investment. It built Fire Stations at Manomet and Cedarville, established elementary and high schools in this area, as well as constructed a water tower to serve this growing residential community. Consequently, hundreds of 2 or 3-car homes have been built on over 35 cul-de-sac roads, along this short southern corridor of Route 3A, from the Cedarville fire Station to Ellisville State Park. If you have a home on this corridor, such as Admiral Byrd Road or Mountain Hill Road, you have access only via Route 3A and you will bear these new traffic problems for four, long years.

Moreover, the Town supported the establishment of the Ellisville Harbor State Park; we now have tourists, locals, and school kids all during Spring/Summer and Fall visiting the Park, and bringing with it unfamiliar drivers to the area.

The private beach at Ellisville Harbor is now a Public Beach under both the State Park  and Wildlands Trust stewardship.   We now have increasing number of visitors all year round.  Additionally, the new Public Beach off Center Hill Road - just north of Ellisville State Park - with two free parking areas is touted by the Town as Plymouth’s newest public beach. We are experiencing more tourists and more traffic.

Thus, the Town of Plymouth made this area, ELLISVILLE VILLAGE, a destination area for our schools, for school-age children and for tourists.

I ask each member to consider: How can we as a Town, knowingly now allow Ellisville to become less safe?

If this project is allowed, we have grave concerns about the safety of school kids, local citizens, and tourists to this area with the daily truck traffic, going through this accident-prone state road, and manufacturing constant delays, all day long, for four long calendar years.

If this project is allowed, it will be ripe for accidents that will happen all within ½ mile around the Indianhead site entrance, likely involving school kids or tourists being injured, or worse.

This proposed project has no public good or redeeming value to the Town or its neighbors, this project is in violation of our established residential zoning laws, and does not warrant an exception being made. What rationale can the Board offer for such an approval?

The Indianhead Project must not be approved; the safety risks are far too great;  the noise, dust and traffic disruption on the neighbors are too severe;  and the financial litigation exposure to the Town is  totally unnecessary.

To The Editor   Old Colony Memorial
Cc/ Zoning Board of Appeals

This letter is intended to expose an attempt to manipulate our Town Zoning Board and the current permitting process . Since January of 2014, I have been attending the hearings for the proposal by Indianhead Realty, Inc, (Case #3734) to remove gravel/sand, clearing approximately 13 acres, at it’s present campground located on State Road, Route 3A in Ellisville.

The stated purpose of this removal -- requiring about 40 trucks per day for a period of up to 4 years -- is to create a ball field for campers and a bike/walking trail meeting ADA regulations for accessibility for persons with disabilities, for the express purpose of accessing Ellisville Harbor State Park and the beach within that park.

To propose that persons with physical disabilities or frail elderly with mobility problems should cross Route 3A at the intersection of  Old Sandwich and Ellisville Roads (with marked speed limit of 45 mph) is nearly laughable if it were not so blatantly dangerous. To suggest that the purpose of this dangerous crossing is to provide accessibility to Ellisville Harbor State park and the ocean is not only all of the above, It is a total fabrication and an insult to the intelligence of the Zoning Board.  

Ellisville Harbor Sate Park is not ADA accessible. The website ( states non-ADA compliant.  The parking lot is uneven, often washed out gravel. The trail, listed as less than one mile, is "processed stone surfaced", steeply hilled and at its end there are 10-12 wooden steps to the very rocky beach.

I am a retired Public Health/School Nurse, an outspoken advocate for persons with disabilities for over 30 years, presently employed at THE ARC of Greater Plymouth as a special projects coordinator. I care a great deal about accessibility and am presently working with our Executive Director and Associate Director to assure that the new Stephens Field restoration project creates a totally accessible park,
since there is not one presently within the town of Plymouth.

This proposal does not achieve the "common good" required to justify a special permit -- and graphically illustrates, in my opinion, exactly why we have Zoning Boards and Zoning Regulations - to protect neighborhoods that would otherwise be abused by one citizen’s desire to achieve the most return from the use of his property.

I ask that the Zoning Board protect this rural/residential neighborhood and this permit be denied.

Roberta C. Ellis Martino
, MA

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 July 2014 22:40 )