Friday, June 30, 2006
Discord or just poor communication?
Twice it appeared that town boards did not fully understand one another during the Planning Board meeting on June 26.
Chair David Freedman said that the next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on the Coventry Woods 40B development planned for Concord Street will be on July 17. Though it is the same night as the next scheduled Planning Board meeting, Freedman said he will attend the ZBA meeting as the Planning Board representative. He noted a level of frustration in communicating with the ZBA on the topic. "We've been asked to give them comments on a list of conditions.We have sent several memos and e-mails in the last several months and get no response whatsoever." Other members observed that the ZBA lacks staff equivalent to the Planning Board administrator.
Moving away from the conference table and sitting in the audience in order to emphasize that he was speaking as an abutter rather than a board member, Michael Epstein said, "The applicant has stopped all negotiations with the abutters." Epstein remained silent in response to Freedman's question, "Will there be a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the applicant and the abutters?"
Town center park improvements
Citing Zoning Bylaws Section 7.6 (Site Plan Review) and after discussing the site visit by several board members on June 17, the Board decided that a formal site plan review would be appropriate for the improvement project planned for the small "pocket park" in the town center across from the police station on Lowell Street.
Member Brian Larson said that the Selectmen evidently are trying to keep the cost down, and requiring detailed engineering could hamper the project. Noting the evident consensus on the part of Planning Board members on the worthiness of the project, Freedman said, "The Board can certainly expedite the process but the project should be done right." He noted, "The Selectmen own the park and they 'own' the site plan review process, but they should follow the requirements of the bylaw."
Commenting from the audience, Bob Hilton (70 Lowell Street) said a Selectman had told him to bring concerns about wetlands and drainage for the project to the Planning Board. Freedman responded, "We would only get involved if there is a site plan review." Abutter Steve Tierney (46 Lowell Road) said, "Are you saying that since the Selectman own the property (and) if the Selectmen choose not to have a site plan review it is not going to happen?" Freedman responded, "This is a perfect example of where we should have site plan reviewand we will strongly encourage them [the Selectmen] to make that determination."
Zoning Bylaw 7.6 states that site plan approval shall be required prior to the:
(220.127.116.11) "Establishment of a more intensive non-residential use on the site of a previous non-residential use, including, but not limited to, the establishment of or alteration to any parking... or proposed pedestrian traffic to and from the site." (18.104.22.168) "Construction or alteration of a municipal parking, cultural, recreational, water supply or protective use."
(7.6.2) "Any person desiring approval of a site plan shall submit said plan to the Board of Selectmen and to the Planning Board."
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