Earlier today, I wrote about an appeal filed against the Park Central project. That complaint was lodged by neighboring residents. This afternoon, the Planning Board officially jumped into the mix. They filed an appeal of their own.
The appeal states that the Planning Board challenges the ZBA’s authority to grant specific waivers related to the 40A project and to give a “blanket grant of any waivers the applicant may deem necessary or convenient in the future.”
The appeal also cites Southborough code as proving that the board didn’t meet quorum requirements on the decision:
Four members may hold a hearing and act on the matter before the Board, provided that the interested parties assent thereto before the hearing opens.
The Use Variance decision in May 2015 was voted on by five board members. But the decision was linked to and effective only after approval of the 40B project. The 40B decision was made by three ZBA members. Over time, when other members resigned or conflicted out, Chair Leo Bartolini chose not to replace them on the ongoing hearings.*
The Planning Board held a pre-posted closed Executive Session this week to discuss a possible suit. The agenda was posted prior to last Friday’s meeting, when selectmen voted 2-1 against allowing the board to retain special counsel to advise them on their rights to file suit.
On Friday, Chair Don Morris told selectmen that the period for appeal would close this week. On Monday night, Board of Selectman Chair Brian Shea said he was willing to reconsider the vote at an October 4th meeting. He claimed that the deadline only applied to the 40B project, which Planning said it couldn’t appeal.
But the 40B decision included elements related to the earlier 40A decision. And the Planning Board is required to make a decision on the development’s Site Plan Review by September 23rd, unless the applicant requests an extension. (Which he already made clear he didn’t intend to do.)
The board may have decided to file their appeal without aid from special counsel. The complaint filed by the board is signed by all four members and no representing attorney is listed.
Click here to open a pdf of the document.
*I don’t have a full record of who dropped off the ZBA’s Park Central hearings and when, since the earliest minutes posted are from November 2015. By then, only the three board members were sitting on the decision. I do know that in the summer of 2014, former member Thomas Bhistikul recused himself due to a conflict. And in spring 2015, Lisa Capello – who I believe was also sitting on the decision – resigned when she moved out of town.
Updated (9/15/16 7:55): I had accidentally written the Planning Board Site Plan Review deadline as August 23. The application deadline is September 23rd. (Their next meeting on it is scheduled for 9/19 for those of you that were confused by the date. But the application actually gives them until the 23rd to make a decision.)