Letter: Retracting until I can verify writer

At the top of letters to the editor, I always note:

[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to mysouthborough@gmail.com.]

Unfortunately, I now realize that I jumped the gun on posting this one. I posted it without ensuring the writer actually was a Southborough resident.

I took the writer at face value. And I’m not accusing the writer of lying or not being a resident. I’m simply unable to verify the facts at this time. And I don’t want to go into the weekend with the letter still posted and unverified.

I have reached out to the writer, but have yet to hear back. If I can verify that she is a resident, I will replace the text.

As for the content of the letter, I am continuing to work on a post – which I hope to have up soon.

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Matthew Brownell
4 years ago


Just . . . wow.

Usually not at a loss for words, but this is astounding.

4 years ago

I’m not sure there isn’t an extent that the zba and counsel won’t go to for Park Central. They showed it during their initial joke of a process and now they continue to turn any stone they can in its favor. It’s really hard to believe that someone would do things like this without some sort of interest in it being developed. I would be disappointed if there is anything but pink slips following this type of action.

Tim Martel
4 years ago

Neither the Board of Selectmen, nor the Zoning Board, nor the Town Clerk, are empowered to change Town Bylaws without a vote of approval by Town Meeting.

**IF** this action has been taken without proper authorization (as indicated in the above article), then the involved parties ought to submit their resignations.

4 years ago

Drain the Swamp- these people have zero ethics or respect for the people of this town including their own superior boards and bosses.

4 years ago

I’m glad someone is paying attention here. This has got to be illegal, right? Seems like more than a few people are trying to sneak one past the goalie here.

Marnie Hoolahan
4 years ago

Exactly…wow!! I am so surprised how this can happen. They have been operating as a quorum of 4 so how they can make this and think it is okay is absolutely not okay! I will volunteer to collect signatures at the transfer station, we need to send a unified voice of the town and state that this is not how our government should operate.

Beth Melo
4 years ago

I asked Town Clerk Jim Hegarty for a response. He responded and sent a slew of links with it that will be included in a later post. But I wanted to share his message, since it will take me a while to write the post.

I did request the company that maintains the Southborough Town Code to revise section 249 because that section did not contain the most recent ZBA Rules and Regulations that have been filed with the Town Clerk. [Southborough Town Code § 174-25 Board of Appeals. A. ………The Board of Appeals shall adopt and file with the Town Clerk rules consistent with the requirements of the General Laws, Chapter 40A, and with this chapter.]

Timeline of events:
Late January 2018, I was made aware that both the printed and online version Section 249 of the Town Code contained the March 12, 1974 ZBA Rules and Regulations, even though updated ZBA Rules and Regulations and an amendment had been filed with the Town Clerk in 2007, 2011 and 2017.

February 5, 2018 I signed the attached affidavit regarding this matter.

March 26, 2018, online and printed versions of the Town Code were updated by the vendor.

The 2007 Rules and Regulations were implemented when Sal Giorlandino was the ZBA Chair and Sam Stivers has told me that he wrote most of those 2007 Rules and Regulations. . .

The 2007, 2011 and 2017 ZBA Rules and Regulations documents.
The February 5, 2018 affidavit.
The February 15, 2017 ZBA Agenda and minutes.
Here’s a link to the SAM video of that meeting:

The blog post implies that I have done something underhanded and that just isn’t the case. I take no side in the ongoing litigation re Park Central. Heck, I spent more than an hour last week helping a person with preparations for the Citizens Petition for a Special Town Meeting that they will be seeking signatures on Saturday which was mentioned in the blog post. I have spent dozens of hours helping residents who oppose the Park Central project with their public record requests.

Since this topic is under litigation and one side has told me they may have their attorney call me to testify, which I said I gladly do, its best that I direct residents to the affidavit and the documents and let the residents read the facts for themselves.

Tim Martel
4 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

I’m not certain that I understand the Town Clerk’s message, and I would prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt as he has always acted with integrity. But it sounds like he is implying that the ZBA has the authority to rewrite the underlying laws that define the Board’s existence. Clarity on this point would be helpful. Thank you.

my town sb southborough
4 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

How was the public supposed to know?

These changes, especially the quorum, are public matters that deeply impact this town. The public should have been included in an open, transparent discussion !

Is this an Open Meeting Law Violation? If so, a complaint should be filed and individuals held accountable and/or removed.

I don’t see above as blaming the clerk, since it just mentions the fact that changes have been made and an affidavit was done probably at the request of town counsel.

However, the timing of all of this seems very suspect. This town would NEVER permit a three person board to make such momentous decisions at any time, now or in the future.

Look at this example: one board member, Mr. Eagle, moved out of town the next day!! This is why a full quorum is needed. This town is fed up with people who have personal and financial conflicts of interest.

Better interviewing at the time of appointment, procedure and enforcement is the key to better government.

Marnie Hoolahan
4 years ago

To be clear, the ZBA does have the authority to change their own rules and regulations however, the greater worry is that these rules were changed in 2007 and 2011, accepted in the official code but yet the ZBA have been operating as a 4 person quorum so they have not even been operating under their own rules and regulations. So if a rule is on paper but never practiced, is it a rule? Shouldn’t the town be able to decide what is best for this town? In light of the horrible mismanagement on Park Central, I for one, would never ever want 3 people making a transformative town decision (specifically waiving Planning Board rights, waiving conservation rights) to approve a bad idea EVER AGAIN! But what just happened behind closed doors an apparently without our full BOS knowing- the speculation that some BOS did know is even more worrisome!

My issue, is simply this- transparency and honesty! ZBA has been running meetings as a 5 person board with 4 people quorum for YEARS and then they tell the Town Clerk to strip the publicly available town code (ecode) and replace it with language that has removed quorum requirements and replace with language that eliminates the quorum (but for rules and regulation changes and appeal processes). How is the lay person who is just trying to pay attention and feel like they are not getting kicked in the face supposed to keep up and feel good about this type of action?

Tim Martel
4 years ago

Let’s be very clear that the ZBA does not have the authority to change their own quorum requirements. MGL chapter 40 section 12 has clear language specifying that the ZBA cannot publish its rules of operation in conflict with the Town’s Zoning bylaws.

“The board of appeals shall adopt rules, NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE
business and for purposes of this chapter and shall file a copy of said
rules with the city or town clerk.” (MGL c. 40A, § 12)

4 years ago

If it is only a 5 member board, wouldn’t 3 members present be a quorum anyway? I understand the percent or number needs to be stated, but I think there is a much larger problem than the language in a Rules and Regs of the Town Code. (And no, I do not think bylaws being changed in such an underhanded way by our town counsel is ok.)

I think even 5 residents being allowed to make decisions for such permanent and in some cases, life altering, land situations is ill advised. For 5 people to be able to change the tone of a town in any unalterable way is an injustice, especially to the degree that projects like Park Central will. If someone just needs a lot line changed that may impact road frontage to a small degree, fine. As for ones that will impact the entire town, no. It should not be in their jurisdiction to do so.

Methinks the ZBA has way too much power at their disposal….

Beth Melo
4 years ago
Reply to  Anita

Under the earlier code, 4 members were specified as required to meet quorum. The revised code eliminates that definition.

David Parry
4 years ago

This is a request to the letter writer (Roxanne Perro), or alternatively to the Editor, or to others who know the facts:

Please will you identify the members of the Board of Selectmen who were aware this Code change would be made, but BEFORE it was made.

I ask this because the letter states that revisions would be made to the Code (quote): ” …without the full knowledge of ALL of the Board of Selectmen.”

Also, please provide an update on the status of the court appeals.

Thank you.

4 years ago

The writer is for sure a Southboro resident and is likely protecting themselves from retaliation as this gov’t has showed in the past. Where in Mr Hagerty’s explanation of the “old” code does it say to delete the quorum piece? that seems to be missing.

I would say there needs to be an emergency BOS meeting on this matter with Hagerty and Town Counsel as well as ZBA Chair.

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