ZBA: Digital Billboard disallowed; Park Central appeal postponed; Bartolini participates – but not on Park Central

by beth on December 15, 2016

Last night, the Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to hear applications and an appeal related to three controversial projects. They took care of two.

To the chagrin of residents who showed up for a Park Central appeal hearing, that item was postponed to January. (Adding insult to injury for inconvenienced neighbors, that decision took place about 40 minutes after the hearing was scheduled to begin.)

Chair Andrew Dennington explained that with only one meeting in December, he had tried to fit in several items. But the hearing on the Digital Billboard Use Variance was already running more than an hour past its scheduled time, and Park Central was the last item on the agenda.

The appeal hearing was rescheduled to January 18th at 7:00 pm where it will be the sole hearing on the agenda. The decision deadline was extended to March 5th.

No mention was made of member Leo Bartolini recusing himself from participating in the Park Central hearing. But Bartolini, who did participate a hearing later that night, didn’t take part in the postponement vote. Instead, votes were cast by members already sitting on the Digital Billboard application. (A project that Bartolini had recused himself from as an abutter.)

Meanwhile, selectmen today posted that they will discuss the hearing to remove Bartolini at a meeting this Monday, December 19th. They may (or may not) make their decision then.

As for the Billboard, after two hours of presentation and comments, the board unanimously voted to deny the application. 

The proposal did get limited support from member Paul Drepanos. He shared that applicant Dominic Serra’s offer to provide some funds to Town/school programs sounded good to him. But he opined that was an offer that was better made to selectmen and brought to Town Meeting.

Objections given by board members included lack of proven hardship (a Use Variance requirement), concerns about a safety hazard, and clear derogation from intent of Town bylaws. Multiple members echoed that it should be up to Town Meeting to decide if they wanted to allow a billboard.

Following that vote, members heard from a representative of CommCan, Inc. The medical marijuana dispensary was seeking a height variance to install 8 foot fences to the east, plus a 10 foot fence in the rear.

Though the dispensary has been controversial, last night’s request wasn’t. Any opponents who were following the exchange were likely pleased by one bit of news. The applicant confirmed that future sales of recreational marijuana won’t apply to owners at that site. That would require an entirely new special permit application.

Bartolini recommended approving 8-10 foot fences all around, so that the applicant could determine the height that made sense based on pitches and falls in the landscape. Dennington disagreed. He reminded the board that the notice provided to abutters specified the locations and height being sought. The board approved the application as submitted.

1 mark dassoni December 16, 2016 at 10:19 AM

My comment is about selectmen meeting Monday Dec. 19 th @6:30pm : on agenda is Mr. Bartolini removal it say”s discussion in less than 2 weeks after labor counsel ,lawyers ,I cannot see how the selectmen could review all evidence and be that sure to take action either way , I am thinking the Park central is pulling board to re put Mr. Bartolini back in his seat as member even with conflict issues around , to Southborough appeal voters stay on this go to meeting and get to speak be the force that you are , to Selectmen board you better be darn sure legally that you got this right .Mark Dassoni

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