Board of Selectmen discuss their positions on motions for upcoming Special Town Meeting

by Beth Melo on September 19, 2013

The Town of Southborough has finalized the articles slated for the October 7th Special Town Meeting. At their September 17 meeting, the Board of Selectmen discussed their official positions.

Selectmen voted to support most but are holding off on a few. The BOS voted to support the following articles:

  • Amendments to SAP (Personnel) Bylaw (Sponsored by the Personnel Board. Since the town code places personnel terms in the bylaws, changes have to be voted on at a town meeting.)
  • Approval of $18,240 in funding for SAP Bylaw
  • Authorization of Madison Place mitigation funds (The allocation of the $338,000 that was designated for Emergency Service through the developer’s agreement with the ZBA. Southborough Police and Fire departments plan to use this for replacing the outdated dispatch system.)
  • Acceptance of Blendon Woods Drive as a public way. (Sponsored by Planning Board. This item was meant to have been handled long ago, but somehow fell through the cracks.)
  • Amendments to Zoning Bylaw. (Sponsored by citizen’s petition. It is intended to fix legal zoning language problems, while maintaining current zoning bylaws.)
  • Approval of $1,600 in funding for Code updates (Sponsored by Town Clerk. This based on assumption that multiple other motions, including the personnel bylaws, are passed. If that happens, the town will need to edit the code and there are associated costs. )

One of the other official warrant articles is expected to be withdrawn at the meeting.

Leo Bartolini has agreed to withdraw his motion through citizen’s petition to have the Town Planner report to Selectmen. This is dependent on having a signed agreement in place that reflects the BOS and Planning Board’s recent vote to share that resource. (As of Tuesday night, the agreement was still under review by Town Counsel.)

The remaining articles were considered too controversial for Selectmen to support this week. They opted to continue gathering information and allow involved parties to try to come to some agreement or compromise. They will make their recommendations at the Town Meeting.

Acceptance of Barn Hollow Open Space Parcel, and of Barn Lane and Nipmuc Lane as public ways.
The Barn Hollow parcel has been a subject of controversy over infringements by abutters. Structures have been removed, but some issues are unresolved.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Freddie Gillespie (Open Space Preservation Commission member) spoke on the issue.

She stated that several abutters continued to landscape the area. She also claimed that OSPC’s questions about an easement and a drainage pipe running through the open land and haven’t been sufficiently answered.

Gillespie requested leadership from Selectmen. She was hoping they could influence the involved parties to come to a compromise before the Town Meeting.

John Butler (Advisory Committee member) advocated following through on developer Kevin Giblin’s offer of a bond to the Town.

Giblin’s company Brendan Homes currently owns the parcel. If Southborough accepts it, Brendan Homes would provide $5,000 to cover costs associated with the remaining issues.

Gillespie was unconvinced that the money would be enough. She said they didn’t have enough information on what was involved.

Medical Marijuana Bylaw
The warrant article proposed by the Planning Board would restrict zoning of dispensaries to adult business zones. This has been publicly opposed by the Board of Health.

Rooney voiced concern that the designation may be too restrictive. He wanted to hear more before voting.

Boland was upset to hear that opposition claims an unfair stigma with the zoning. He pointed out that Southborough’s adult business zone is in a commercial area with offices. The adult zone doesn’t have adult entertainment.

Butler cautioned Selectmen that with Fazen’s opposition, a 2/3 vote of approval was highly unlikely. Without an approved compromise, that would leave Southborough vulnerable to a dispensary being developed in the center of town or another area near a playground or school.

1 Al Hamilton September 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

At the risk of adding gasoline to smouldering embers:

I did a quick scan of the Zoning By Laws for Major Residential Development. They appear to require that 25% of a major development be set aside as “Open Space”. Of that, 10% (of the total) is supposed to be left in its “natural state” and the other 15% can be managed for recreation.

There seems to be a real dissonance here. While people appear to want land to remain a “natural meadow” that is not what will usually happen in New England. A process of natural succession will take place as a grassy meadow becomes overrun with low brush evolving to forest. A meadow requires some sort of action to “set succession back”. Fire is natures way but I hardly think that is what we want to resort to. Floods can do the job. So can beavers.

One thought would be to have the open space committee identify the 10% that is supposed to be left “natural”. If the abutters and neighborhood wants to mow the other 15% to create a place for kids to play or as a coyote/racoon/deer buffer or a place to walk the dog, the town should be pleased that the neighborhood is working together and leave them alone.

We really have a lot more important things to spend our precious time and tax dollars on.

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