Zoning Board of Appeals’ David Eagle has officially submitted his resignation. His letter to Chair Andrew Dennington cites the necessity – Eagle sold his Southborough residence on August 25th to relocate to Boston.
The closing took place the morning after Eagle led a marathon ZBA session to approve the controversial 180 condo affordable housing project.
Eagle was acting as the chair of proceedings on the Park Central development this summer. (He accepted the position after former Chair Leo Bartolini demoted himself. That move was in response to a petition seeking to oust Bartolini.)
Eagle was one of only three members acting on the case. The vote followed a session beginning at 4:30 pm that afternoon and continuing for several hours.
Abutter Majid Yazdani confronted Eagle that night with the question, did the need to vote on the project that night relate to Eagle moving out of town? The ZBA member claimed it “doesn’t have anything to do with it”.
Fellow member Paul Drepanos pointed out that the application deadline was August 31st. Yazdani reminded that the project has had many extended deadlines throughout the process. And he asked why the meeting wasn’t begun in the evening when residents were home from work, then continued to the following week, before the deadline, when people would be back in town. He said it would allow residents a chance to review the conditions.
Eagle defended that over the “numerous meetings” this summer, residents seemed to keep rehashing the same issues:
at some point we had to make a decision. We know that there’s a possibility that this could get appealed. . . let’s move on. . . let the chips fall where they fall.
He furthered that the developer was entitled to due process and the project had gone on too long. And he claimed that he had personally heard from many people in town who were in favor of the project but were uncomfortable going on the record.
Earlier in the permitting process, the ZBA granted Town wetland bylaw and Planning related waivers on the project. They were given prior to Conservation Commission and Planning Board reviews of the requests. Questioned on the appropriateness, the ZBA responded that Conservation and Planning would have a chance to weigh in before the final decision. If the boards came back with issues, the ZBA would consider rescinding the waivers.
Instead, the ZBA approved the project on August 24th, prior to Conservation Commission and the Planning Board could finish their reviews.
At a mid-August meeting, developer Bill Depietri tried to force the Planning Board to vote in August. Having just received the final plans, the board pushed back that it would need to wait for a September 19th hearing.
[There is no public information as to whether Depietri knew that Eagle was moving by the end of August. But Eagle moving prior to project approval would have caused major process issues. (Over the years of hearings, as ZBA members resigned or were conflicted out, new members and alternates weren’t added to the case. As a result, only 3 members were overseeing the decision.)]
And at last week’s ZBA meeting, Conservation Chair Mark Possemato said that they were in the middle of considering revised plans with substantial changes. The final plans were just received the previous week. And they were still waiting for supplemental information.
The ZBA purported to handle the unfinished process through project conditions. But the language doesn’t appear to specify that waivers to Town bylaws could be overturned based on feedback from either board.*
Some of the many other issues that were aired during the public hearing included:
- A neighbor’s request to prohibit construction on Saturdays. (The decision allows Saturday construction from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm)
- Selectman Paul Cimino’s request to ask for more mitigation funds. (Depietri stuck to his decision to pay only $25,000 to design and construct traffic calming measures on Flagg Road. And former Chair Leo Bartolin defended it as his long standing position, ever since the Town officially sought to block the project early on. The ZBA’s MassHousing consultant claimed that the board can’t push for mitigation funds for a 40B project. Not in the conditions, Depietri has talked about donating a parcel of land for a new water tower.)
- Prohibition of construction vehicle on Flagg Road (granted)
To read the final decision and conditions, click here.
As for the new ZBA vacancy, selectmen will accept Eagle’s resignation at their September 6th meeting. The agenda doesn’t include appointing a new member. That means there is still time to apply.
If you are interested in volunteering, click here for the application. The Board of Selectmen’s FAQ explains that volunteers should:
Fill out the form and attach a resume to it, then return it to the Selectmen’s Office. You may also e-mail both documents to email@example.com..
*The only close-to-relevant conditions I could find to the waivers or findings by the Planning Board and Conservation Commission are:
In addition, to the extent any other waivers of the requirements of local laws or other local rules and/or regulations are required to construct the Project as shown on the Plans of Record, those waivers are also hereby granted. Except for the relief granted by the Board relative to specific waivers granted and as set forth in the preceding sentence, the Applicant shall comply with all provisions of the General Bylaws, Zoning Bylaws, the Rules and Regulations ofthe Zoning Board for 40B comprehensive permits, and all the rules and regulations applicable thereto, including but not limited to the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and Board of Health generally applicable to a project. . .
The Project requires the issuance of an Order of Conditions by the Southborough Conservation Commission (andlor Superseding Order of Conditions issued by MassDEP) pursuant to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, and implementing regulations (310 CMR 10.00 et seq.), and shall comply with the DEP Stormwater Policy.