Residents at Annual Town Meeting will be given the chance to “effect a resolution” on an issue that has been plaguing the Town for years. But it’s not the compromise that most of us expected to vote on this April.
Last night, the Board of Selectmen kept residents and department heads waiting while their closed executive session ran close to an hour over schedule. Rumors abounded that the litigation discussion was related to the Gulbankian lawsuit.
The rumors were confirmed hours later, when selectmen added a citizen’s petition for zoning to the Annual Town Meeting warrant.
Selectman Rooney explained that the zoning was related to the Gulbankians:
We are suggesting a framework for resolution based upon numerous hours and a mediation in Boston. . .
the framework also involves the filing of the citizen’s petition and the vote at town meeting for the rezoning of the property to an industrial zone.
Rooney said that paperwork and details would still be in process today. He hopes that a solution has been met:
Once those terms are all finalized and the documents are signed, I believe the town will have effected a resolution with the Gulbankians and that’s one matter that hopefully we can move beyond and move forward with and not have to address in the future. We’ll see how town meeting feels about it.
For those of you new to the story, you can scroll down for a brief history.
Now it will be up to town voters to who show up for town meeting.
As for showing up, re-mark your calendars. After learning that the original date for Annual Town Meeting was to fall on the first night of Passover, Selectmen opted to change the date.
According to bylaws, it must be opened on the first Monday in April. But the moderator and Selectmen will immediately continue the meeting to Wednesday, April 16 at 7:30 pm.
The meeting is unlikely to be finished that night. Rooney pointed out that the next night is celebrated by some as Holy Thursday. The town will check on the service times for Southborough churches in hopes to avoid conflict.
Selectmen discussed another compromise that they had hoped to have ready for April. It’s now slated for the warrant without compromise.
Brendan Homes developer Kevin Giblin asked the BOS in writing to pull the acceptance of the Barn Hollow Open Space parcel from the Town Warrant for April. He wrote:
I plan to meet with the Planning Board to further discuss OS and will submit a request for the next town meeting after the issues are resolved. It is my intention to submit a modification to the subdivision approval on or before June 2nd, 2014.
Planning Board members didn’t want to delay the vote without knowing more about the proposed modification. They voted to hold its place on the warrant, while acknowledging it could be pulled on the floor.
Rooney agreed. While he still hoped for a resolution, he stated:
I can no longer ask for time for the compromise, because in my opinion, I cannot effect a compromise.
It was a long meeting last night, so I’ll save other matters for another day’s post. But, if you want to see it for yourself, click here.
As promised, here is my Gulbankian’s lawsuit recap:
The town’s legal dispute with the Gulbankian family owned J&M machine shop began in 2010. At that time, neighbors complained about the bus lot on the property. When the town investigated, they found that business to be within zoning regulations. But they determined that the machine shop sharing the lot was not in compliance.
The property, which also contains the Gulbankian flower shop, was zoned for fewer businesses than it was running. The family sought an allowance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The ZBA imposed restrictions which included the family agreeing to pave the gravel bus lot and build a drainage system. The ZBA’s purported rationale was to avoid neighbors appealing and overturning their ruling.
Instead it was the Gulbankian family who appealed. After receiving an estimate of $250,000 for meeting the parking log requirements, they headed to court. The court sided with the town and imposed a daily fine for non-compliance. As of this summer, the fine had accumulated to $126,600.
The family filed another appeal, which has now apparently led to mediation and a hopeful resolution.
[Shout out in the comments if you think I got any of the details wrong. After all, I only started covering this story less than a year ago. So, I’ve had to play catch up myself.]