ZBA Vacancy (and related Park Central controversy)

by beth on September 2, 2016

Post image for ZBA Vacancy (and related Park Central controversy)

Above: ZBA members working through the decision and conditions with Park Central developer and attorney at the August 24th meeting (photo by Allan Bezanson)

Zoning Board of Appeals’ David Eagle has officially submitted his resignation. His letter to Chair Andrew Dennington cites the necessity – Eagle sold his Southborough residence on August 25th to relocate to Boston.

The closing took place the morning after Eagle led a marathon ZBA session to approve the controversial 180 condo affordable housing project.

Eagle was acting as the chair of proceedings on the Park Central development this summer. (He accepted the position after former Chair Leo Bartolini demoted himself. That move was in response to a petition seeking to oust Bartolini.)

Eagle was one of only three members acting on the case. The vote followed a session beginning at 4:30 pm that afternoon and continuing for several hours.

Abutter Majid Yazdani confronted Eagle that night with the question, did the need to vote on the project that night relate to Eagle moving out of town? The ZBA member claimed it “doesn’t have anything to do with it”.

Fellow member Paul Drepanos pointed out that the application deadline was August 31st. Yazdani reminded that the project has had many extended deadlines throughout the process. And he asked why the meeting wasn’t begun in the evening when residents were home from work, then continued to the following week, before the deadline, when people would be back in town. He said it would allow residents a chance to review the conditions.

Eagle defended that over the “numerous meetings” this summer, residents seemed to keep rehashing the same issues:

at some point we had to make a decision. We know that there’s a possibility that this could get appealed. . . let’s move on. . . let the chips fall where they fall.

He furthered that the developer was entitled to due process and the project had gone on too long. And he claimed that he had personally heard from many people in town who were in favor of the project but were uncomfortable going on the record.

Earlier in the permitting process, the ZBA granted Town wetland bylaw and Planning related waivers on the project. They were given prior to Conservation Commission and Planning Board reviews of the requests. Questioned on the appropriateness, the ZBA responded that Conservation and Planning would have a chance to weigh in before the final decision. If the boards came back with issues, the ZBA would consider rescinding the waivers.

Instead, the ZBA approved the project on August 24th, prior to Conservation Commission and the Planning Board could finish their reviews.

At a mid-August meeting, developer Bill Depietri tried to force the Planning Board to vote in August. Having just received the final plans, the board pushed back that it would need to wait for a September 19th hearing.

[There is no public information as to whether Depietri knew that Eagle was moving by the end of August. But Eagle moving prior to project approval would have caused major process issues. (Over the years of hearings, as ZBA members resigned or were conflicted out, new members and alternates weren’t added to the case. As a result, only 3 members were overseeing the decision.)]

And at last week’s ZBA meeting, Conservation Chair Mark Possemato said that they were in the middle of considering revised plans with substantial changes. The final plans were just received the previous week. And they were still waiting for supplemental information.

The ZBA purported to handle the unfinished process through project conditions. But the language doesn’t appear to specify that waivers to Town bylaws could be overturned based on feedback from either board.*

Some of the many other issues that were aired during the public hearing included:

  • A neighbor’s request to prohibit construction on Saturdays. (The decision allows Saturday construction from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm)
  • Selectman Paul Cimino’s request to ask for more mitigation funds. (Depietri stuck to his decision to pay only $25,000 to design and construct traffic calming measures on Flagg Road. And former Chair Leo Bartolin defended it as his long standing position, ever since the Town officially sought to block the project early on. The ZBA’s MassHousing consultant claimed that the board can’t push for mitigation funds for a 40B project. Not in the conditions, Depietri has talked about donating a parcel of land for a new water tower.)
  • Prohibition of construction vehicle on Flagg Road (granted)

To read the final decision and conditions, click here.

As for the new ZBA vacancy, selectmen will accept Eagle’s resignation at their September 6th meeting. The agenda doesn’t include appointing a new member. That means there is still time to apply.

If you are interested in volunteering, click here for the application. The Board of Selectmen’s FAQ explains that volunteers should:

Fill out the form and attach a resume to it, then return it to the Selectmen’s Office. You may also e-mail both documents to selectmensoffice@southboroughma.com..

*The only close-to-relevant conditions I could find to the waivers or findings by the Planning Board and Conservation Commission are:

In addition, to the extent any other waivers of the requirements of local laws or other local rules and/or regulations are required to construct the Project as shown on the Plans of Record, those waivers are also hereby granted. Except for the relief granted by the Board relative to specific waivers granted and as set forth in the preceding sentence, the Applicant shall comply with all provisions of the General Bylaws, Zoning Bylaws, the Rules and Regulations ofthe Zoning Board for 40B comprehensive permits, and all the rules and regulations applicable thereto, including but not limited to the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and Board of Health generally applicable to a project. . . 

The Project requires the issuance of an Order of Conditions by the Southborough Conservation Commission (andlor Superseding Order of Conditions issued by MassDEP) pursuant to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, and implementing regulations (310 CMR 10.00 et seq.), and shall comply with the DEP Stormwater Policy.

1 DJD66 September 2, 2016 at 9:58 PM

I still don’t get why Eagle did not resign before this vote. I dont care what he claims,…. Eagle calling a meeting at 4:30 the day before he is closing on his house does not pass th sniff test. To be honest – it stinks to high heaven. Not sure what his motivation could be, but to me he has completely ruined his reputation here in town. If it were me, I would have stepped down well before the biggest vote the ZBA has ever had. Maybe he was hoping if he stuck around for the vote, Bartoloni would wantbtomname a pond after him.

2 Carol M September 3, 2016 at 8:39 AM

Not sure why Mr Eagle seems to be on trial on this ? I’m a life long resident here in town and Mr Eagle has been a huge supporter to almost every non profit event for decades. He and his company, Eagle Leasing have supported many school fundraisers and civic events in Southboro. Up until recently, his fine reputation has been well documented. In fact, I believe he was even President of the Southboro Education Foundarion for many years when my kids were younger. His actions in how he handled his moving is not our business. We don’t know why he’s made that decision and I really don’t care to pry into his personal life. No one has the right to throw darts unless you are walking in his shoes.
These hearings have been going on for over two years. It’s not like, as others have suggested, the ZBA made this rash decision without hearing from all parties ahead of time.

Mr Eagle was thrown into the position of Chair of the hearing due to Bartolini’s arrogance. In fact, all the meetings that Mr Eagle ran were done professionally and with utmost patience.

Let’s focus on the issue of the project as we move forward. Others have threatened to appeal their decision and if so, then the courts will ultimately decide it but let’s not trash
David Eagle in the meantime.

3 YY September 3, 2016 at 10:35 AM

I don’t know Mr. Eagle and he might be a very nice person but consider:

1.) Mr Dipietri admitted he couldn’t do a thing with project because he still has to wait for permit from Conservation Commission.

2.) Instead of voting and closing on Aug. 24… how about… Aug. 25, 26, 29, 30, or 31? The project deadline, without any further extension, was Aug. 31. Mr. Eagle’s resignation on Aug. 25 just stinks here?

3.) The problem with the “2+ years” argument is, in my view, what normally matters most is the conditions and the conditions were not finalized until just before meeting so you expect people to discuss it meaningfully in that short order?

4.) ZBA has repeatedly assured everyone that Planning Board and ConComm et al will have chance to weight in but how much teeth other boards will have now?

4 DJD66 September 4, 2016 at 4:10 PM

He may be a great guy, I don’t know him. All I know is the ZBA called a meeting to vote on the biggest development project this town has ever seen on a Thursday afternoon at 4:30 (when everyone is town was away on summer vacation). The next day he sells his house and then resigns from the ZBA. Do you think that is OK? I don’t. This whole thing is unbelievable and I can not believe it has gotten this far. All one needs to do is look at the picture of Flag road. If you have any common sense you would agree that adding 1000’s of cars to this roadway does not make sense. I don’t live in that neighborhood, so it will not have a direct impact on me. I just know this type of development is wrong.

5 John Kendall September 6, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Good guy, bad guy. Right, wrong. It lends an air towards impropriety.

6 Make a difference September 5, 2016 at 10:53 AM

I completely agree with the concerns expressed in this forum. I don’t think this is the place for the concerns though, I think everyone who has an issue with the process should absolutely write a letter to our Board of Selectmen. There are only 20 days to appeal this decision and we have to the 13th of September. Citizens of this town should push our Selectmen to APPEAL this decision.

Watch the tape from that fateful night- our 3 ZBA members (responsible for approving 10% of the town’s population into the Park Central development with ZERO town services mitigation monies- don’t you think 1000 extra people will require town fire and police services??? Apparently this was non-negotiable so our taxpayers will front this bill because remember these are also rental units!) were busy chitchatting and leaving the actual writing and editing of the Proponent lawyer drafted comprehensive permit to the proponent’s attorney and the ZBA 40 B consultant. Really? Isn’t that negligence on our ZBA members part? Isn’t it their responsibility to be a part of the process and not just read through the edits and “ok” it in 10 minutes! Wasn’t it their role to review the over 50 letters they received on conditions and assure those conditions were addressed or minimally explained why they weren’t? They all work full time, were given 50 + letters to review, hold a meeting and people actually think that they READ everything, pondered the conditions and thoughtfully considered SOUTHBOROUGH in this process?

Just looking at the procedural pieces, the comprehensive permit itself is flawed, for example, they reference the waivers that were granted as exhibit 4 and guess what, exhibit 4 doesn’t contain waivers???? They were in such haste to get this thing filed that they did not even include the right content. DISGRACEFUL! Criminal! Gross Negligence!

Send your discontent to our Selectmen, let it be known that this is not an acceptable way of approving urban development projects in our town. These 3 people made a decision that will impact this entire town, made in such haste and let me ask you this? DO you know enough about this- do your research and I promise you no one would want this process (if you can call it that) to be repeated ever, ever again.

7 Charles W. September 5, 2016 at 2:58 PM

I have been away from town a long time and have just returned. What is going on?

8 beth September 5, 2016 at 3:53 PM

Boy are you opening a can of worms with that question. I’m not sure you want to hear all the long answers!

You may be better off checking out this link and scanning past posts on the topic: http://www.mysouthborough.com/tag/park-central/

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