Planning Board filing a new Park Central appeal

by Beth Melo on September 21, 2016

Post image for Planning Board filing a new Park Central appeal

Above: The Planning Board votes to file another appeal on Park Central – this time to the ZBA. (image cropped from Southborough Access Media video)

Monday night, the Planning Board voted unanimously to appeal a decision by Southborough’s Building Commissioner (or as they referred to him, the Building Inspector.)

The appeal once again relates to Park Central. But unlike the their appeal against the Zoning Board of Appeals filed in Worcester Court last week, this appeal is through Town channels. Ironically, this appeal is being made to the ZBA.

The discussion and vote followed the board’s continued hearing on the Park Central Site Plan review. (That hearing was again continued to this coming Monday, September 26. The developer expects a decision that night, though the approval deadline was extended to September 30th.*)

According to Planning Board Member Meme Luttrell, a letter from residents asked Commissioner Mark Robidoux to rule that the Park Central Use Variance, granted in May 2015, expired. He ruled against the claim.

Before voting to question the decision, Chair Don Morris indicated that it wouldn’t be disrespectful to Robidoux.

Morris told the board he was with the Inspector a couple of times that day to briefly look at the decision. He said that Robidoux welcomed the board’s discussion of it. He believed that the Inspector looks at information thoroughly then makes a decision. “And then, if he’s wrong, he’ll live with the appeal.”

Without a formally requested extension and a ZBA vote, Use Variances expire one year after being granted. For the Park Central 40A townhouse project, the ZBA wrote into the decision that it would be effective once the linked 40B condo project was approved. Based on that, Robidoux determined that the term wouldn’t expire until August 24, 2017.

Luttrell believed that case law specifically backs that the one year term is based on the granting date not effective date. Member Andrew Mills quipped that it would be nice to have a lawyer in the house.

Fellow member attorney Phil Jenks opined, it was “a very close call”. He believed case law still left it cloudy. And he could see a developer back in court for an answer – perhaps even this case.

He agreed with member Jesse Stein that this appeal would back the integrity of their earlier appeal. He furthered it could effect pulling in a lawyer to answer the question. He said that law backs Town boards appealing 40A project decisions to the ZBA – so it isn’t a big deal. And they “could appeal it, just to extend the time.”

Jenks followed up to stress that land use law isn’t in his background and he has never filed an appeal. His opinion is just based on what he has read. Morris said the rest of the board was probably just as inexperienced on filing an appeal.

The board will file the appeal of Robidoux’s decision by this Friday’s deadline.

*Note: I still haven’t had a chance to fully view the 2 hour long Site Plan Review hearing. If there is information worth sharing from that, I’ll post about it later this week.

1 YY September 21, 2016 at 9:32 AM

Thank you for the thorough coverage! :-)

2 mark dassoni September 21, 2016 at 10:55 AM

i thank you too beth, mark dassoni.

3 mark dassoni September 21, 2016 at 9:49 AM

variance will curtail the heavy development zba board ,on sept.26 and extension til 30th developers teams need to upgrade site plan to fit variances in not planning board could and should deny it for safety reasons,mark dassoni

4 Joe September 21, 2016 at 1:33 PM

It would be nice if we could keep this blog to southborough residents only.

5 Mark Ford September 21, 2016 at 3:09 PM

Joe,I think Mr. Dassoni, (if that’s to whom you refer), offers a terrific perspective, and is actively interested in our process. Would that more than a small minority of Southborough residents were as engaged!

6 mark dassoni September 21, 2016 at 3:54 PM

to Joe I take no offense to your comment \ To Mark thank you, if either one or Southborough itself can watch Ashland cable at home watch the government channel especiality the selectmen and board of health meetings, plus our town meeting which is coming nov.28th @7pm,we like southborough freely speak,i learn from meetings what goes into forming a decision from first proposal to final passage for agenda subject to go forth,i listen to all than hears other ,than I reply to it after,i help others in that way also,Mark Dassoni

7 Kate September 21, 2016 at 6:43 PM

And why would that be, Joe? I hope I’m wrong, but your tone comes off as pretty condescending. I don’t see anything in the Guidelines which limits participation to Southborough residents, but perhaps I am incorrect.

8 mark dassoni September 21, 2016 at 11:28 PM

no Kate you are not incorrect, Mark Dassoni.

9 Allan Bezanson September 21, 2016 at 8:35 PM

Lucky we are to have Mark Dassoni’s observations and informed explanations of the process. At Monday night’s Planning Board meeting he was present at the outset and still there as proceedings went on after midnight.

10 mark dassoni September 22, 2016 at 11:20 AM

it what I and continue to do, watchdog always looking out for citizen voter no matter what town I’m there for, Mark Dassoni, to Allen better lucky than good.

11 em September 22, 2016 at 10:32 AM

I actually am surprised that Joe’s comment was not made by someone sooner. However, it does make some sense that it was not. Most of the people commenting on the Park Central issue these days are anti-development, as Mark Dassoni’s comments also seem to be. As such, most of the commenters would be happy to have another voice who is engaged and on their side, regardless of his town of residence. I suspect that if Mr. Dassoni were pro-Park Central, he would have been labeled an “outside agitator” and his comments and presence would not be so embraced. As someone who supports the Park Central project and is annoyed by the tactics of its opponents, I personally wish Mr. Dassoni were not adding fuel to the fire. But, would I feel differently if he were attending meetings and making comment on this site that assisted my side of the debate? Perhaps I would. Also, we live in a society in which democracy and speech are vital, and civic participation is sadly minimal. So, although in this particular circumstance I am displeased with a non-Southborough resident’s participation in our decision-making in the sense that I disagree with him, I am not willing to condemn his participation. Civic participation, from any source, is a good thing. My hope is that we as a community are equal-opportunity in the future when it comes to civic participation from other non-residents. If the anti-Park Central people accept non-resident help in this situation, they should be prepared to allow other non-residents to participate in the future, even if they disagree with their ideas.

12 mark dassoni September 22, 2016 at 11:39 AM

Em: outside agitator, not anti-developing but there is a limit to what they want, adding fuel to fire is for citizen s who had enough of clearing trees, noise from construction machineries at all hours of day even though there is a noise bylaw , I at present time in Ashland in charge to watch over 2 solar projects, `and one 398- 3 storied apartment complexes with water tanks, health facility, there once everyday making sure they follow town and EPA-DEP federal guidelines,it what I do so voters ,citizens knows there is somebody out there watching out for them,i do this always for others never for myself ,Mark Dassoni

13 D. McGee September 22, 2016 at 1:42 PM

“I am displeased with a non-Southborough resident’s participation in our decision-making…”

Last I checked, the only people making decisions on Park Central are the Board of Selectman, ZBA, Planning Board and abutters (decision to appeal ZBA). I hardly see how Mr. Dassoni’s comments constitute “non-resident help” in any way (especially given how jumbled they are at times!).

14 em September 22, 2016 at 2:26 PM

I would suggest that participating in the process (including one individual offering strategies – such as suggesting ways to have ZBA members removed – or dozens of people showing up to a forum to speak their opinions on road concerns in the attempt to influence the various boards) to be participating in our decision-making process. If strategizing and speech are not part of decision-making, why else would anyone do such things? Indeed, attendance and comments at meetings and appeals have been very effective in so far derailing the project. Were it not for such dissent, the project would not be stalled, as it is currently.

My point, which seems to have been missed, is that while I may not personally like the direction of such action because it is working toward a different outcome than I would prefer, the participation itself is to be lauded. Far be it for for me to criticize or attempt to limit civic participation, no matter the perspective.

15 mark dassoni September 22, 2016 at 7:07 PM

Displeased with your own town voters, it called democracy at it”s finest , even though you don”t like my comments I do have right of free speech, Mark Dassoni .

16 em September 23, 2016 at 9:49 AM

Yes, Mark. That was the point of my comments. While I may disagree with you, you have the full right to make your comments and we as a community (including me, who does not share the sentiment of your comments) ought to celebrate them as civic participation.

17 mark dassoni September 23, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Doing civic participation is my pride and joy, thank you em, Mark Dassoni.

18 Matthew Brownell September 22, 2016 at 5:36 PM

“Most of the people commenting on the Park Central issue these days are anti-development”. (??? !!! )

Really? “em” , exactly how intimate are you with the specific protests and concerns about Park Central? If you’re seeking to marginalize, generalize, and paint concerned residents as “anti-development”, I think we’re entitled to an answer and explanation from you.

The unshakable *FACT* is that allowing Park Central to move forward is to pose imminent, foreseeable, and recklessly negligent risks to Southborough residents – all by grossly increasing vehicular traffic on narrow, winding country lanes that are **already** dangerous and a known hazard. In other words, Em, Park Central is taking a known high-risk situation, and making it exponentially worse.

Are you are aware,em, that in the current approved state, traffic from the entire Park Central area ( including Red Roof Inn, Park Central Office Building, Cumberland Farms) will be able to exit via “John Boland Drive”, and make a LEFT HAND turn onto Flagg Rd and into family neighborhoods? It is very hard for me to fathom how this imbecilic engineering, let alone approval could come to fruition.

Imagine fuel trucks, semi-trailers, hazmat vehicles, squeezing down the skinny, pinched shoulders of Flagg Rd, Lovers Lane, Deerfoot Rd, and Lynnbrook. . . . all thanks to certain members of Soutborough’s ZBA and Selectmen who apparently have their heads up their tailpipes.

19 mark dassoni September 23, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Great points Matthew, that is why selectmen plus planning board are taken next steps to get DOT involved, plus variance codes will help also ,Mark Dassoni.

20 Joe September 23, 2016 at 11:32 AM

Doesn’t Ashland have enough problems you can focus your efforts their. Where were you when all this kind of thing went down in my neighborhood. Got to get the last word.

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