The week in government: Conservation Commission and EDC

Here is a selection of the committee and board meetings for the week along with my selected highlights from the agendas. (It’s a light week.) Unless otherwise noted, meetings are open to the public, so you’re welcome to stop on by.

Be aware that changes to the meeting schedule are known to happen throughout the week. For an updated list of meetings, visit the town website.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

  • Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee Operational Budget Subcommittee Meeting, 5:00 pm @ Office of the Superintendent – Conference Room, 53 Parkerville Rd (agenda) Agenda Highlights: FY 21 Recommended Budget Discussion
  • Conservation Commission Meeting, 7:00 pm @ Hearing Room, Town House, 17 Common St (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Hearing on 269 Cordaville Rd addition of mudroom/porch; Continuances requested for hearings on 30 Presidential Dr addition plus patio, & pool and Park Central mixed residential development construction; Order of conditions for 23 Woodbury septic; SMP extension request for Bartolini Business Park; OSRP Goals; Updates on Halloran CR and Special Counsel

Friday, January 3, 2020

  • Economic Development Committee, 7:45 am @ Hearing Room, Town House, 17 Common St (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Discuss “Order and decorum and hard stop”, the business of the EDC, and the Downtown Initiative

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Open Meeting Law Violation?
3 years ago

The Town Calendar has a number of new agendas posted for BOS, Planning Board, EDC, etc. The EDC has on their agenda: “Order, Decorum, and Hard Stop”

Can someone please explain what the heck that means? Agendas are supposed to list their discussion items as actual business items with sufficient specificity to the public, so the public can understand what the heck they are talking about. So what does that mean? And where is the business task? It is not comprehensible to the third party reader and the public they are serving: Is this an Open Meeting Law Violation?

More importantly, it is impossible to follow along with what exactly the EDC is proposing on a supposed bylaw change (“Business Village District Zoning Amendment,” which is listed on the 1/6/20 Planning Board Agenda). That is this Monday. If the EDC is going before Planning Board regarding a Zoning Amendment on Monday 1/6/20, but the Zoning Amendment and all that entails is not on their own agenda for discussion this past week and the public cannot make heads or tails of this, is that an Open Meeting Law violation?

Bylaw change? What is it? Bylaw for what? This EDC and BOS needs to stop bypassing the public and respect process themselves. At a recent BOS meeting, Mr. Healy was asking about who can bring zoning bylaws to Town Meeting floor. There should be no monkey business and looking for ways to bamboozle the public. There are actual boards (elected!) charged with the business of zoning and it’s not the BOS, for legitimate checks and balances, non-political reasons.

Most importantly, this should be an open, public process with plenty of information available in sufficient detail to the public that this EDC is supposed to be serving. Remember us, the public? The people you are asking for more tax dollars from? These agendas (and the minutes) are so cryptic it is impossible to be informed. Also, members of this committee have been granted Special Municipal Employee status, thereby lessening Conflict of Interest laws for them. At least one argued for it (no one else from the committee before BOS), Mr. McCay, and then did not take it and resigned. That person was not operating under a vote from the committee to go get the SME designation. But this BOS plowed ahead anyway and gave it to the committee, regardless of breaking their own new policy. Simply unbelievable. (Sam Stivers and Lisa Braccio did not vote in favor, BTW, for that very reason.) That didn’t stop Mr. Healy, Mr. Shea, or Mr. Kolenda. So the EDC has the benefit of a lower threshold to Conflict of Interest Laws and the person (who was not voted to do so) who requested it, did not take it and puzzlingly chose to leave the committee. The BOS should now re-review the so-called “need” (since it was McCay pushing based on his own need on his own letterhead) and rescind that designation immediately. All those in charge, especially those who “can’t remember” or have no idea why SMEs were doled out, should not be allowing any SMEs to stand without express demonstrated need. BOS certainly should not be violating its own new SME policy. Public trust is broken. There should be no SMEs. Earn it back.

Taxpayers, remember that in the voting booth in the New Year and at town meeting budget time for the EDC. The EDC is viewed by many as the development community’s voice, not yours. Is it? Reader, you be the judge. Their actual track record is abysmal. And they are asking for more of your money. They are the most vocal negative critics of an elected board, Planning Board, while seeking SME status (getting it!) and operating with barely to no accountability to the public or the actual homeowners. Hang on to your wallets.

These EDC meetings should absolutely be videoed by Southborough Access Media. The working public and taxpayers who are paying for this committee should be able to view these meetings by video to keep up. Thank you.

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