Row between MassDOT, Deerfield man continues

DEERFIELD — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said the flooding of a Deerfield resident’s property is not due to road work the state completed in 2008.

“It was a maintenance job. There were no changes to the profile of the road or the width,” said Michael Versekes, spokesperson for MassDOT. “There was nothing drastic in nature that would have caused any flooding.”

In 2008, the state resurfaced the roadway on Route 116 in South Deerfield and Whately from River Road to the intersection of Routes 5 and 10.

Since that time, Michael Killeen, of 112 Sunderland Road, said rainwater runoff has flooded his basement and his neighbors’ property. Killeen said flooding was caused by the state not raising the 1.38-inch curb when the road was resurfaced.

This year, Killeen, while building a garage foundation, created a berm in his front yard by Route 116 and he says the flooding stopped, leading him to conclude state roadwork was to blame, and encouraging him to leave the berm in place.

But the state ordered him to remove it this month, arguing it was on state highway right of way and obstructing sight lines on the busy highway intersection.

In response, Killeen, erected a large white sign by his home, apparently also on state property, saying “MassDOT is flooding my property and is violating the FOIA.” FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act.

Killeen can keep the sign as far as state highway officials care.

“MassDOT is responsible for regulations of outdoor advertisements,” Versekes said. But “this isn’t a billboard. He’s free within his First Amendment rights. The content is not something we’d ask him to take down.”

Under Deerfield town bylaws, anyone who erects a sign on town property needs a sign permit. Town Building Inspector Richard Calisewski said he is waiting for guidance from the state to see if there is anything he should do regarding the sign.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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