The Planning Board is back at full capacity. At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday night, the boards jointly and voted to appoint Phil Jenks to the vacant position.
Though the decision was unanimous, it wasn’t without controversy. A resident at the BOS meeting insisted on questioning Jenks’ conflict of interest. The source of conflict was Jenks’ purported relationship with the Flatley Company. Flatley Company is the past owner of the 87 acre parcel of land behind Red Roof Inn, purchased recently by Capital Group Properties. That land is the site of the proposed 25 acre Park Central 40B development.
Jenks responded that he never represented Flatley. He represented a potential buyer and developer of of the land. That development never went through.
Both boards were satisfied with Jenks’ lack of conflict.
Jenks was sworn into position on Wednesday, allowing him to participate in that evening’s interview of a Town Planner candidate.
Should they have been satisfied with that answer? What isn’t mentioned is that the boards did not allow public comment in relation to this appointment and the two residents who wanted to comment/ask questions were shut down hard. Public comment was allowed at the end of the meeting, but only after a resident noted that ‘public comment’ was listed on the agenda. Considering it was post-vote, that was a little late.
I was at the meeting and did not hear Mr. Jenks fully explain his connection to that Flatley owned land. He only stated the he ‘never represented Flatley’, he didn’t clarify why there could be a misunderstanding. Here is the detail, back in 2007 Mr. Jenks was representing Trammel Crow, who was proposing a 200 unit 40B project for the Flately owned land at the 495/9 intersection. One of the reasons it was dropped was that an Avalon Bay plan was submitted at the same time for the current Madison Place location and garnered no citizen opposition (unlike Trammel Crowe’s).
It’s not a good coincidence that now, several years later, there is a new plan for that very same parcel, with a large number of residents still in opposition because of consequences for the surrounding neighborhoods, and someone who’s objectivity is in question has been newly appointed UNANIMOUSLY to one of the most important boards in town. I know Southborough wants to appear ‘more development friendly’ but at what cost? Does the pendulum really need to swing that far in the other direction to get us on the right track?
Mr. Jenks should have been more forthcoming and the Boards should have questioned him further about this conflict and the resulting risk of non-objectivity. Why didn’t they?
There were laughs all around at the beginning of the joint meeting referencing how the Planning Board needs to get out of the newspapers. This isn’t a good start.
Mr. Jenks’ comment regarding the Open Space Committee as being ‘out of control’ seemed off the mark. I’ve attended every Town Meeting for the last 7 years and seen that residents vote in support of open space time after time.
Lastly, Capital Group does not own that parcel of land for their proposed 40B, they are optioning it. Just like Trammel Crowe was in 2007. Maybe Capital Group’s lawyer might be interested in a seat on our Planning Board? Shall we check and see if he’s a Southborough resident too and ask?
It is unbelievable that there is this possible conflict of interest! Our planning board does not represent the interests of the majority of our citizens for the balanced development of our town.. It represents the developers and it has been that way for a very long time!!!
I have never heard of this new approach of the town of Southborough being “more development friendly” other that from developers. In my 46 years as a resident the concern has always been “the rural character of the town” from residents.
As for the current boards in town, because of all the current litigation and up coming litigation, it seems they are more likely to bulldoze issues thru rather than listen to residents comments. This is what happens when one lawyer runs a town.