To the editor: I am commenting on a disturbing pattern that has emerged recently where meddlers interject themselves into a number of local issues without understanding of the negative and unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences of their actions, so long as they get their way. Examples include one person sending a documented 1,101 emails to town officials in 2022 and further dominating and weaponizing public comment and wasting meeting time. My observations are based on 40 years (as of last week) of uninterrupted participation and experience in town government as an elected, appointed official and as a town employee. As a 50-year resident and town meeting wonk, I am concerned about the impact of outside influences that negatively affect the community.
Article 36 – Hillary Rayport’s frivolous and misguided article tries to create the HDC in her own image. This article attempts to make the HDC an alien all-powerful detached department from the town after 70-plus years. There is no argument that it is entirely independent on decision making on exterior architectural features. The entire office staff is shared and cross-trained among the various boards in PLUS, to provide adequate support for the past 11 years. The issue is not with the staff but with the process and HDC meetings. The Select Board took the HDC staff’s and HDC officers’ advice and has contracted with an independent consulting group expert in historic district commissions' operations. No need to vote in favor of this. As a side note, Town Counsel has ruled that this article is non-biding and this is an administrative executive level decision as specified in the Town Charter.
Article 62 - This article sponsored by the Land Council, assisted by Rayport’s signature gathering, attempts to reverse a bylaw amendment unanimously passed without comment in 2012. This is a unique situation where at least two structures validly exist on a property by February 16, 1955. State laws allow the division of such a lot under 41-81L. Before 2012, the property owner had to go the Planning Board first then go to the Zoning Board for a variance to bless the lots with these structures on them as allowed by state law. These are not vacant lots. The ZBA for decades complained about why these cases had to then seek relief for their legal existence. The change in the Bylaw eliminated this redundancy, so properties do not ping pong between boards. There may be an average of less than 10 a year. At times there are only two. The proponent is misrepresenting the facts as well as the impacts. Any lots that have been created still have to abide by zoning requirements and HDC approval for new structures or changes to the existing. Property owners who have relied on and already received a division of land are now thrown into uncertainty and revert back to an untenable situation between two boards. No reason to vote in favor of this now. This was settled in 2012.
Article 83 – I have to take real issue with Rayport’s second attempt at tampering with the Planning Commission, an entity that I am well-versed in having been an elected member from the Planning Board for 10 years. This Commission is a well-represented good mix of elected and appointed members whose job is to provide advice on issues affecting the town. Like last year, Rayport’s attempt has been met with the same chilly reception and rejected by the NP&EDC and Fin Com unanimously. Town meeting sent it for study which is on-going. There is no reason to vote in favor of this article at this time.
There are many articles that we should be wary of this year. These are only three that I am opining on now. These three articles should not be supported and are in the same class that I have already commented on elsewhere, like Article 60. Please attend and have the courage of your convictions.