When I discovered that our 2012 annual town meeting (ATM) passed a zoning change based on written materials that were not in the booklet mailed to residents, that were only knowable by reviewing the materials in the Town Clerk’s office, and hence were unknowable to we residents at the town meeting who voted that evening, I thought that was not the right way for the town to pass bylaws. Therefore, I have worked to change what and how that happened.
I first learned about the issue months ago when neighbors of the proposed LCB assisted living facility alerted me to what had happened. As a result, I spend time educating myself as to what transpired, and analyzing the results. I personally concluded that:
- the 2012 process was flawed in my mind because of the lack of information; and
- even under the zoning changes purportedly made in 2012, that the LCB petition has no basis under existing zoning, because LCB should be applying under the part of the bylaw that covers “commercial,” not “institutional, non-profit” uses – both LCB’s attorney and Town Counsel disagree with me on this.
To follow through on what I see as correcting the 2102 ATM vote because of the insufficient material, I last Tuesday had my fellow selectmen vote to put warrant articles forward at the upcoming ATM to undo what was voted in 2012, if the residents so chose.
It turned out that drafting those warrant articles fell to me, and so yesterday I did so. Below are those drafts as I shared them with the town administration and my selectmen colleagues.
The votes would just revert those zoning bylaws to the wording that existed before the 2012 ATM.
From: Osler Peterson
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 2:03 PM
To: ‘Mark Fisher’; ‘Richard DeSorgher’
Cc: Sarah Raposa; Michael Sullivan; Mark Cerel; Kristine Trierweiler
Subject: zoning articles
Richard and Mark,
Mark Cerel asked me to draft what I am suggesting with respect to the annual town meeting (ATM) zoning warrant articles, and this is what I came up with – it reverts from what we have now back to what we had before 2012.
126.96.36.199 Strike “Hospital, convalescent, nursing home, Hospice, continuing care, or assisted living facility” and replace it with “Hospital, sanitarium or sanatorium” and strike “SP” and replace it with “NO” in the B, B-I, and I-E districts.
188.8.131.52 Strike “Hospice or nursing homes, convalescent and assisted living facilities and medical and dental office” and replace it with “Convalescent or nursing homes and medical and dental office” and strike “SP” and replace it with “NO” in the R-S and I-E districts.
As the final irony of this whole process, if afforded the opportunity to vote on the above warrant articles at our upcoming ATM, I will vote against them. While I believe the 2012 process was flawed, I agree with the result, which gives our Zoning Board of Appeals the discretion to decide for the town whether any particular proposal makes sense.
Having seen the operation of the ZBA from my years serving as a member, I trust the ZBA to do what is in the best interest of the town, and also I want the town to have the flexibility to locate assisted living facilities in appropriate areas, including residential zones when it makes sense.