Letter: Craig Nicholson for Planning Board

[Ed note: I have invited each candidate for a contested seat to submit one letter before the May 9th Town Election.]

To the Editor:

My name is Craig Nicholson and I am thankful for the opportunity to run for the open position on our Planning Board. I have been a resident of Southborough for over 10 years and have a strong commitment to giving back to the community that provides my family with so many benefits.

I believe that Southborough is a place that people choose to live. We choose this town because of everything it has to offer which includes the sense of community, the schools, the recreation opportunities and the open space that helps define the character of the town.

I feel that the best way to preserve what I love about Southborough is to contribute in a way that leverages my career knowledge in real estate to keep all the facets of the town in place and affordable for everyone. It’s my professional background allows me to understand how the words of a zoning by-law and a picture on a site plan will actually fit into our built environment and impact our community.

I have been active in the community for many years. In addition to coaching youth soccer, I am currently the chairperson of the Recreation Commission and Southborough’s Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee (SHOPC). I am also a member of the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Additionally, I serve on the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army in Worcester County focused on their real estate and retail operations in order to support their mission.

As a member of the Planning Board, I have three key positions that will frame my work: 

  • I will work to better the communication and coordination of the multiple boards and commissions involved in approving building and development in town. This coordination will ensure that every development is viewed in its entirety and in a manner that is open, consistent and allows each board to support each other’s authority and expertise.
  • I will work to create an environment of sustainability within the town. I applaud the recent approval at Town Meeting to adopt the Stretch Code because energy and natural resource conservation is an absolute necessity.
  • I will work to implement the findings of the Town’s Housing Production Plan from 2015 in which we need to address the ability for the town to accommodate our aging population in a way that keeps them integrated and involved in our community.

Ultimately, development will happen. My goal is to promote that every project provides a benefit to our community. Benefits that increase the value of our properties and allow for a diverse tax base that supports the schools, recreation and open space components that help to define its character. To accomplish this, I believe I am in a unique position to leverage my expertise and history to strive for winwin outcomes.

The character of Southborough resides in more than our town square, historic buildings and bucolic environment. The character is equally made up of the community and its people. Both facets need to be nurtured in order for Southborough to thrive.

I thank you for your participation in the political process and sincerely ask for your vote.

Craig Nicholson

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7 years ago

Craig, When I hear sustainability (I have my USGBC LEED Green Building Certificate and USBC LEED Corporate Sustainability Certificate) , I hear more restrictions. When I hear the description of who you are, I think, you have a lot of time on your hands in other peoples business (if I am wrong lease forgive me and thank you for serving), but you have only been here 10 years. What about those who have invested and still invest int he town for 20, 30, 40, 100 years in the case of a close business friend in town who the committees are putting undue restrictions on. What about the rights of personal property owners that buy property on investment – what the left calls speculation we call speculative investment in our town and America, to build later? Where are you going to get the money to fund these additional restrictions “sustainability” places on American (if I can digress editor – not India and China and Russia) and our town? Can I ask what your occupation is outside of the committees please? Respectfully, Mike Fuce

Craig Nicholson
7 years ago

Thanks for your question. I’ll try to make sure I hit each point and question you rose. If I miss one, let me know.

1. I was raised in an environment where you give back to your community. This can be done through coaching your kid’s football team, being a member of a service organization like Rotary International or participating in municipal government. All of these options require you to commit the time needed to give back. Luckily, my family is understanding of my desire to participate in these ways.

2. Yes, I’ve only been here a bit over 10 years. However, one of the benefits of Southborough that my wife and I appreciated was the schools. My kids are in 8th and 5th grade at the moment which means I’m not going anywhere for quite some time – if ever. Additionally, I think the town benefits from a wide range of people running for office and committees. It allows the viewpoints of the senior citizens, empty nesters, families with kids in the schools and new families looking to put down roots to be heard so that the town and its character can continue to thrive. Good planning will make sure Southborough is here for its Tri-Centennial.

3. I’m going to bundle up your final three questions since they’re all related so bear with me.

I am a real estate developer. This is actually a benefit for the town. The projects I’ve worked on in Cambridge and other locations throughout the country actually gives me the experience to understand not only how zoning by-laws impacts the town and landowners in their actual applications, but also how the current review and approval process and animosity between the boards puts the town in a position that results in undesirable outcomes. This is something I want to change.

I completely understand the concern about implementing restrictions and requirements that impact the value of someone’s investment. I believe that good development involves a win-win situation where the landowner is allowed to preserve their rights and make a profit, while the municipality receives development on an appropriate size, scale, quality and usage that ultimately benefits the community.

Specifically when it comes to sustainability, I’m not suggesting that the town adopt LEED certification levels as our baseline. There are many ways to work these types of goals and efforts into our codes. I won’t speak for the other 80% of the Planning Board on the best way to accomplish this, but it could include some “by-right” components, some “required” components and some “incentive” components. Based on a balanced and fair mix of the implementation options the cost impact to improve sustainability shouldn’t be a deterrent.

I hope this covered you questions on my goals for my term on the Planning Board and concerns about why I volunteer my time. I’d be happy to meet with you or anyone else in town to discuss this further.

Thanks and Don’t Forget to Vote on May 9th.


7 years ago

Beth, No, it is not “Craig Nicholson for Town Planner” !!! Please change the title and clarify. We have an open position in Governement for an actual Town Planner and we would not want to confuse citizens. Mr. Nicholson is actually running for membership on the Planning Board.

Beth Melo
7 years ago
Reply to  M

You are correct. Interesting nobody noticed that before you. I’ll fix the typo!

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