Friday, October 21, 2005
An SOS for the BOA
After reading Deborah Kablotsky's front-page article "BOA opens 40B hearing for Coventry Woods" in last week's Mosquito, I was reminded of the tremendously important job that will confront the Zoning Board of Appeals (BOA) in the months and possibly years ahead. With the state-mandated 40B law that allows developers to build higher-density housing than allowed under the town zoning bylaws, provided at least 25% of the units are "affordable," this board will have the responsibility of approving (or disapproving) 40B applications.
In the past, BOA members, appointed by the Selectmen, met once a month to deal with variances and special permits. Now they are meeting twice monthly, on the first Thursday, to deal with variances and special permits and on the third Monday to deal with 40Bs.
To learn more about how the BOA plans to manage their new responsibilities, I looked for the board's phone number in the Carlisle telephone directory. Surprised to find none, I remembered that BOA chair Cindy Nock worked for the RecCom and called her there. With the board facing added responsibilities, Nock, I learn, has gone to the Selectmen and the Town Administrator to make several requests. First of all, she tells me, she needs keys to some filing cabinets, a BOA telephone number with answering machine, a desk, a computer and, finally, office space in Town Hall. Also on her list is a request for an administrative assistant. These certainly seem to be reasonable requests from a board that will be responsible for the future of the town as anticipated 40B applications come in.
Nock reports that the town counsel will be conducting workshops for the seven-member board to give an overview of what the state requires, what the town requires, the zoning bylaws, and the rules and regulations. For new members on the board there will be statewide training sessions, Citizen Planner Training Collaborative, sponsored by UMass, Amherst. There is a lot to learn as the BOA role is expanding.
"Times are changing," says long-time BOA member Terry Herndon. "The BOA needs to work with 40B developers." Instead of the Planning Board working with a developer as they have in the past, the BOA must work with an organization such as Mark C. O'Hagan Associates, co-developer with Land West on the Coventry Woods 40B project on Concord Street. For an even more frightening scenario, see the October 16 New York Times Magazine feature, an article on the Toll Brothers, mega-developers.
Here in Carlisle, we have a town board with no phone, no office and a limited budget trying to control well-financed, well-lawyered, professional corporations. The loser in these contests can only be the Town of Carlisle.
Half-empty bottles of Gatorade, a mud-spattered white sock, empty water bottles, Fritos wrappers, and a plastic dish of orange slices littered the Banta-Davis soccer field on a recent Sunday morning. On a nearby bench sat a miniature pink needlework pillow that spelled out, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," perhaps forgotten by the little sister of a soccer player.
This summer I began walking my dog at Banta-Davis, savoring the lush fields and quiet trails and enjoying the company of other dog walkers. Once school started and sports teams took to the fields, a few empty bottles would appear. On weekends, they multiplied and Banta-Davis resembled an inner-city playground. I was annoyed that this beautiful field was sullied by other people's thoughtlessness and baffled that it was happening here in our special town.
Dog walkers carry plastic baggies so we can clean up after our pets. (Baggies are thoughtfully provided here and at other town fields.) Since anti-littering is ingrained in us, we also pick up other people's trash. Are Carlisle players, coaches and parents oblivious to the trash on the field? Do we teach our kids that tossing McDonald's bags out of the car is a no-no, but leaving their Gatorade bottles on the soccer field is okay because it's someone else's job to pick them up?
Lily, my Golden retriever, believes it is her job. She is genetically hard-wired to retrieve, and she's an enthusiastic volunteer. Nose to the ground, tail wagging wildly, Lily goes about her work. One morning she retrieves a tired blue bandana which she promptly rips, two more white socks, and a ratty tennis ball. I drape the socks on the fence next to a tiny pink hoody (belonging to the owner of the tiny pink pillow?). As of this writing, they still hang on the fence, rain-drenched and desolate, waiting to be claimed. Another morning Lily discovers a shiny new soccer ball nestled in the woods, but it's too big for her. We leave it at the entrance to the field to be reunited with its owner.
Lily is also a superior shredder. She patrols the parking lot at Banta-Davis, reducing Kimball's ice-cream cups, pretzel bags and plastic spoons to confetti that I pick up and pitch into a trash barrel.
Here's what I don't understand. There are several large trash barrels at the entrances to both Banta-Davis fields. Occasionally they overflow, but not often. Surely Carlisle kids know that litter is an eyesore, and it harms the environment. As citizens of our town, they're responsible for putting their empty bottles and trash in a barrel, but they might need reminding by coaches and parents. Perhaps another strategically placed barrel with an anti-litter sticker would send the message.
Carlisle kids, their parents, their coaches and all the rest of us are stewards of the environment, and that includes the town's playing fields. Let's pitch in and keep them beautiful.
© 2005 The