In-Town Report 02-14-10


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In-Town Report 02-14-10

  1. 1. “Sweet Suspense and Lethal Libations” 2/5/2010 2/5/2010 This annual WinterFest social is also the kick-off for Chelmsford’s “One Book” community reading campaign. Godfather photo by Photos by Tom Christiano Donna Berger
  2. 2. Patrick pushes agenda, faces police protest in Chelmsford By Rick Tessier, Sun Correspondent 02/07/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Gov. Deval Patrick came to talk up his agenda. He left with an earful. Making a stop at a local coffee shop yesterday, Patrick was confronted by members of the New England Police Benevolent Association. Wearing sandwich boards that read "Public Safety at Risk" and "Dump Deval," the officers told the governor they object to his proposal to slash funding for the Quinn Bill, a po- lice-training program. Patrick's proposed budget would cut funding for the program in half, by $5 million. The officers, including local police, also complained about a change in state law in 2008 that allowed po- lice details to be replaced with civilian flagmen on state highway projects to save money. The governor told the group that he hears their concerns. Patrick, who has seen his popularity drop in recent months, has been hearing plenty of that kind of criti- cism. On Thursday, he canceled an appearance at an AFL-CIO conference in Plymouth after more than a half-dozen large public-safety unions announced they would picket. Talking to the crowd inside the Java Room yesterday, Patrick said he is campaigning for a second term in office to "finish what we started." He noted that Massachusetts is enduring "the worst economy in living memory," citing a budget gap of $9 billion, which represents about one-third of annual state spending. To help combat the state's fiscal woes, Patrick touted the elimination of the Turnpike Authority, which he said will save the state an estimated $250 million. He also pointed out other achievements during his first term as governor, including: * Insurance-industry reform. Under his administration, he said, Massachusetts has allowed for the entry of 14 new insurance companies, which, in turn, provide for more consumer choice and make possible a drop in insurance premiums. * Effective use of federal stimulus money. Patrick cited the creation of 4,000 new construction jobs, funded by stimulus money flowing through the State Revolving Fund. Lowell's Appleton Mills redevelopment has received federal stimulus money through the state, he said. * The current initiative to fund public schools at the highest funding levels possible. Patrick called educa- tion reform his "proudest achievement." The governor also took questions from the audience and clarified issues about Evergreen Solar, a solar- panel manufacturer based at Devens, and its decision to send work to China. Patrick said Evergreen Solar, which he has touted as an example of a Massachusetts business success story, had promised to create at least 600 jobs in the first 18 months after receiving state aid. Although Evergreen Solar has outsourced jobs to China, it nonetheless created 650 jobs in that 18-month period, Patrick said. Patrick mentioned state "clawbacks" that it can activate when a state business receiving state assistance fails to keep "their end of the bargain." The governor's stop in Chelmsford is his second in less than a month. He visited Chelmsford's Harrington School several weeks ago to push his education-reform plan.
  3. 3. COFFEE TALK with the Governor Photos by Tom Christiano
  4. 4. Photos by Tom Christiano
  5. 5. $$$ Public-sector salaries prove recession-proof $$$ Despite recessions, public-sector pay rises By Christopher Scott, LOWELL -- The last decade has been lucrative for public-sector workers, as salaries have risen steadily -- despite two recessions -- particu- larly for those who oversee school districts, colleges and universities. "There's no question public salaries are out of control," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, a 35-year- old organization that bills itself as "The Voice of Massachusetts Taxpayers." Complete story at The Higher cost of government The Sun asked local and regional governments for starting base salary figures for positions both 10 years ago and today. Salaries do not reflect stipend,overtime or contractual educational benefits. Regional: 10 years ago Today Change Massachusetts Governor $135,000 $140,535 4.1% State Rep / Senator $ 49,710 $ 61.440 23.6% Nashoba Tech Superindendent $101,996 $168,006 67.7% CHELMSFORD: Town Manager $105,050 $129,446 23.2% School Superindendent $119,115 $164,999 38.5% Fire Chief $89,931 $113,300 26.0% Police Chief $91,730 $107,700 17.4% Teacher $29,944 $36,374 21.5% Police Officer $27,874 $32,638 17.1% Firefighter $30,223 $34,704 14.8% ***************************************************** CLICK THE LINK to see the on-line version of theAnnual Town Report for Fiscal 2009 Bound copies can be purchased in the Town Manager's Office for $5.00 each. Includes Town Administration and School department Employee Payroll LINK to 2009 Annual Report
  6. 6. Cohen: Health-care costs burdening budget By Rita Savard, 02/09/2010 CHELMSFORD -- The forecast for local aid is beginning to look less bleak, but Town Manager Paul Cohen warned officials that skyrocketing health insurance continues to consume the budget. Citing a five-year history of town expenses, Cohen said when people ask why Chelmsford can't live within its means, they need to take a closer look at fixed costs. While spending for town schools has risen at an average of less than 2 percent each year and public safety has increased by less than 1 percent annually, benefits and insurance for town employees climbed by about $4.5 million during the past five years, increasing at an average of nearly 7 percent each year. "The sad part of the tale is our funding is going to these fixed costs instead of running the town," Cohen said. "More than $1 out of every $10 for the town's total budget goes toward health insurance for the town's active and retired employees." For the second consecutive year, the town has been unable to reach an agreement on health-insurance plan design changes, Cohen said. Health insurance for fiscal 2011, beginning July 1, is expected to climb by $625,000, costing Chelmsford $10.8 million. Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed budget -- the first step in determining the town's share of local aid -- was good news to town officials who were bracing for a 10 percent cut. Under Patrick's numbers, Chelmsford can level- fund its budget for fiscal 2011. But Cohen said more still needs to be done at the state level to help cities and towns control crippling health-insurance costs. Last year, a proposal to strip unions of bargaining power in municipal health-insurance decisions stirred controversy as union leaders locked horns with local and state officials to retain control. The measure would have required legislative action, but was scrapped. Instead, state lawmakers offered other options for municipalities to bring in more revenue, including the authority to hike local meal and hotel-room taxes, as well as closing a telecommunications tax loophole that previously prevented communities from collecting property taxes on utility poles and wires. In October and November, the town earned about $32,000 from the local restaurant meals tax. Property taxes, estimated at $75,688,267 for fiscal 2011, pay for 75 percent of the town's $100 million budget, Cohen added. "It's not as though we're spending wastefully or foolishly," Cohen said. "We can't get past fixed costs." Only one new item has been added to the budget this year. About $25,000 has been earmarked to hire lifeguards at Heart Pond for public-safety reasons.
  7. 7. Scaled down DPW plan back on ballot in Chelmsford By Rita Savard, 02/09/2010 CHELMSFORD -- In October, town officials said it was now or never. Voters took a pass, easily defeating two debt exclusions for a new Department of Public Works and a new Center Fire Station totaling $25 million. Now, a new proposal to upgrade the Department of Public Works -- scaled down from $13 million to $5 million -- will get another shot at the polls in April. Town Meeting representatives are throwing their support behind the cheaper plan, but some wonder: Will Chelmsford voters? "The economy is still in bad shape so there's a general fear of spending money," Town Meeting Representative Pat Magnell said. "I don't know if the vote will be different this time around, but I'm hoping it will be. I want and expect good value for my tax dollars, and I think Alpha Road presents a good value." The Alpha Road building, formerly the Old Mother Hubbard dog-food plant, has been on the market for 18 months. Voters rejected a pro- posal in October to relocate and upgrade the DPW's aging facility from Richardson Road for $13 million. After the failed vote, town officials began working on a less expensive proposal. The result was a phased-in approach. Phase one would include the $3.5 million purchase of the building and $1.5 million in renovations to make it suitable for the Highway Depart- ment and a few DPW operations. The current Richardson Road facility would remain open until the second phase, which Town Manager Paul Cohen estimated would begin in 2015. Although the new proposal is $8 million less, some residents say they've already made up their minds to vote against it. "I couldn't afford it before, and I can't afford it now," Chelmsford resident Michael Phinney said. "Taxes aren't going down, and a lot of people are still out of work. Town officials have to learn to live within their means." Proponents say a coordinated effort to educate voters on long-term cost savings could make all the difference. "I met with people after the vote in October, and a lot of them said they didn't even know there were questions on the ballot," Town Meeting Representative Peggy Dunn said. "We need to do a better job of getting the word out this time." Selectmen unanimously supported bringing the issue to the ballot for a second vote, but stressed that a strong case must be made to gain support for the election, scheduled for April 6. "There's no such thing as a slam-dunk when it comes to a vote like this," Selectman Pat Wojtas has said. "We have to be upfront with voters and have a plan for outreach." Selectmen Sean Scanlon and Eric Dahlberg supported the issue going to the ballot, but said upgrading the fire station, which also failed in October, should come first. Cohen said there isn't enough time between now and April to put together a proposal for a scaled-down version of the fire station. But a new proposal for a $4.5 million fire station, down from the original $12 million, will surface this year, Cohen said. Pat Maloney, a construction manager and former member and chairman of the town's Permanent Building Committee, said the DPW pro- posal is about securing an asset for Chelmsford that will save taxpayers money in the long run. The move to a larger facility would immediately save $70,000 a year that the Sewer Department now pays to rent space in a separate build- ing, as well as cancel the possibility of another lawsuit with the North Chelmsford Water District, Maloney said. The town has already spent about $100,000 in legal fees over the DPW's proximity to North Chelmsford's drinking-water supply. "Whether it's today, five years from now or 10 years from now, the town will need a new DPW," Maloney said. "Right now, we have the oppor- tunity to save millions by purchasing a building that already exists. If we don't, we'll have to eventually build from the ground up, so it comes down to how much people are willing to spend and when." Town officials estimated a cost of about $31 million to build a brand-new DPW facility. Finance Committee member and Selectman candidate Jon Kurland has compared the financial consequences of holding off on the DPW project to a vote in the 1960s that postponed the Chelmsford sewer project. Dunn remembers that vote. "The government was willing to pay 95 percent of project costs," Dunn said. "But droves of people came out against it. They didn't want to spend the money." Kurland said residents who are now paying $5,000 and $6,000 betterment fees would prefer a different outcome. But the economy, Maloney added, could still play a big role in whether the DPW proposal passes a second time around. "If the town has learned anything from last year, it's that anything can happen on these votes," Maloney said. If voters approve the proposal and Town Meeting passes the appropriation for the facility, taxpayers could expect the average single-family tax bill to go up by $21 in fiscal 2011, $25 in fiscal 2012, $49 in fiscal 2013 and 2014, before beginning to fall by 2015.
  8. 8. ASK THE MANAGER: ITR : Do you have the info on what affect the 5 million dollar DPW proposal will have on the yearly tax bill if it were to get passed by the residents at the April Town elections? Town Manager Paul Cohen PC : The estimate impact on the average single-family property tax bill (currently a home assessed at $347,700) for the excluded debt related to a $5M DPW facility would be as follows: FY11: $21 FY12: $25 FY13: $49 FY14: $49 FY15: $32 FY16: $28 ..... ITR : Last fall the residents voted on 2 projects at a total cost of $25,000,000 We were told if we ended up only voting for one of the two projects the tax rate would more or less not be affected, because the cost would be absorbed by the falling sewer debt so the average taxpayer would not see a spike. Now that would have been for a single $12,000,000 to $13,000,000 project. Why do we see a spike when it is only a $5,000,000 project? Does it have to do with the length of the loan the town would take on $5,000,000 as opposed to $13,000,000 ? PC : The answer to your question is that each year the Town is paying down its excluded debt for the sewer and school projects. The Town borrowings are repaid on a level principal payment each year, as op- posed to a level debt service payment that one would typically have on a home mortgage. Each year the Town is paying another principal payment. Therefore, the subsequent fiscal year's debt service is declining because there is a lower interest charge on the remaining smaller principal balance. In my earlier message, I quoted you the average single-family property tax increase per year for a $5M DPW facility. I did not provide you with information regarding the decline in the average single-family property tax bill per year as a result of the pay down on the exist- ing debt for the sewer and school projects. For example, in FY11, the impact for the DPW facility is $21; however, the declining debt service on the existing debt for the sewer and school projects amount to a $14 reduction to the average single-family property tax bill. If one were to combine these two numbers, the net impact would be an increase of only $7 {which is $21-$14}
  9. 9. Town Halls projects estimated to cost $4.65 million Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 04.FEB.10 This week’s report from architectural firm Kang Associates Inc. estimates the two town hall restoration projects will cost roughly $4.65 million. “I was kind of pleased with the number,” said Architect Kaffee Kang. “I anticipated it could be a bit more.” It works out to about $175 per square foot at the Center Town Hall and $273 per square foot at the North Town Hall. The estimated cost includes a 10 percent contingency. Work at the North Town Hall, estimated at $2.46 million, includes $85,950 for demolishing the stairs from the basement and the wall foundation in the rear that need to be rebuilt. Other large line items include $93,000 for a 40-space parking area, $127,997 for wood and plastic, $133,998 for doors and windows, $151,515 for electrical work and $211,303 for HVAC. If the design does not have to adhere to historic restrictions, some costs would decrease. “You have to address how historic this building needs to be,” said Kang. That might become an issue if North Chelmsford pursues National Historic District status, said Historical Commission member Linda Prescott. “The North’s voice is getting stronger they want to become a national district,” said Prescott. “If that is so, that building be- comes a cornerstone. The Historical Commission wants to keep the character of that building.” Kang said if the North Town Hall is declared a preserved building that could lower costs. “Because the building has not been occupied for five years, it has to be rebuilt to meet codes,” said Kang. “The building code will make exceptions for historic buildings. Maybe you won’t have to rebuild the front stairway.” Work at the Center Town Hall, estimated at $2.19 million, includes similar replacement of major systems. Line items in- clude $230,765 for HVAC, $165,660 for electrical and $124,362 for doors and windows. Kang told the Permanent Building Committee some costs were not included in her estimate including hiring a project manager, installation of security systems and design fees. Prescott, who is co-chairman of the Community Preservation Fund Committee, said when Kang presents the plans to the CPC next week, she doesn’t have to give an exact total but should acknowledge what other issues need to be addressed. “You need to be upfront that some of these costs just surfaced,” said Prescott. “The CPC will have some recommenda- tions. These are the biggest CPC bills we have ever had submitted.” The CPC would need to endorse the projects before they reach Town Meeting, said Town Manager Paul Cohen. Although the money would come from the CPC fund, the committee would need to borrow against future earnings to cover the costs, said Cohen. Detailed documents related to each town hall on the Town’s Permanent Building Committee website. CLICK HERE
  10. 10. Chelmsford resident sues to overturn zoning decision By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Feb 12, 2010 Chelmsford — A local business owner has filed suit in Land Court, disputing a Zoning Board decision denying him a permit to run his business from his house on Stedman Street. Frank O’Brien, owner of O’Brien Compliance Management, filed the appeal on Friday. O’Brien has run his business at 14 Stedman St. since moving to Chelmsford from Lowell about a year ago. In October, an open-house for the business attracted the attention of neighbors, who complained to the town. Building Inspector Scott Hammond visited O’Brien several times last fall, ruling O’Brien’s business violated bylaws governing home businesses. O’Brien said at first he intended to respect that decision, handed down Jan. 14, but after exploring his options he decided it is too expensive to move his operations out of his house completely. “I wish I didn’t have to appeal it,” said O’Brien. “I don’t agree with my neighbors, but there’s a lot of them and that’s their feeling. You’d like to be able to say fine and that’s their feeling. But I’m just not made of money.” O’Brien has four employees, including himself, who were working at the business until October. Under the town’s home occupation bylaw, O’Brien is only allowed one employee who does not live in the house. O’Brien said he knew he was not in compliance when he moved into 12 Stedman St. But he said he always intended to apply for a special permit. A split ZBA denied his application after residents from the Westlands neighborhood and other parts of town argued that O’Brien’s operations were disruptive to the neighborhood and an approval of his request would be setting precedent for other home business operations. Board members cited concerns over the volume of traffic his business generates in the neighborhood. Board member Joel Luna, the sole supporting vote for O’Brien said his only problem was the number of cus- tomers and requested putting a condition on the permit limiting the number of visitors. But the board members felt it would be hard to monitor such traffic. O’Brien said he has secured a rental office space on Stedman Street in Lowell temporarily. He said he signed the lease and anticipates moving in by the end of this week. But he said if he continues to rent the commercial space and operate his business in two locations he will be forced to sell his large home and move to a smaller more affordable one. He said with the weak housing market he probably won’t get the money back that he paid for his Stedman Street home. “There’s overlaps involved,” said O’Brien. “It was kind of a miscarriage of justice. Clearly the board wanted to satisfy my neighbors.” O’Brien argues that his neighbors concerns are “imaginary and hypothetical.” “My business, you don’t even know it’s there,” he said. Town Manager Paul Cohen said when O’Brien files, the town will defend its position. Roy Earley, one of the Westland residents who has been actively speaking out against O’Brien’s business said that he thinks the town has been patient with O’Brien and his company since it was notified. “Personally I think the town has been very,very lenient and patient with this non--compliant compliance company, since originally issuing the cease and desist order to Frank back in October,” said Earley in an e-mail. “But Mr.O'Brien obviously appears to think he knows the town laws better than the town does.” After the ZBA decision on Jan. 14 O’Brien said he would comply with their decision. But on Feb. 9 he was issued a ticket for violating the town’s bylaw and having more than one non-household employee. Cohen said in an e-mail that there has been no annulment on the ticket for the violation. The town is seeking the opinion of Town Counsel on the zoning enforcement matter, Cohen said.
  11. 11. In a letter to Chelmsford's community development director Evan Belansky Frank O'Brien of 12 Steadman street lays out his plan to the town... Subject: Status of Home Occupation; 12 Stedman St Dear Mr. Evan Belansky: This letter will consolidate my recent emails to you dated 8 February and earlier today, 9 February, in an attempt to provide a clear status update of my home occupation. I'm thinking in terms of 3 phases: Phase 1: Since the 14 January denial of Special Permit, I'm continuing to comply with homeoccupation by right limits, 195-7(A). I've made one change to help in this regard. XXXX, who is one of my engineers, is now a "member of the household". Therefore inaccordance with 195-7(A), she can work here full time. Please find attached a Boarding Agreement we have between ourselves. Her bills are in the process of changing over tothis address.I could find no formal definition of "member of household" in the bylaw 195-108. The closest 2 terms which would seem to provide insight into the meaning of "member of household" are: "Family" and "Boardinghouse". The definitions from 195-108 havebeen copied below: FAMILY -- Any number of individuals living and cooking together on the premises as a single housekeeping unit. BOARDINGHOUSE -- A dwelling or part there of in which lodging is provided by the owner or operator to more than four boarders. Where four or more unrelated individualsrent a dwelling, it shall be considered a boarding- house.A family is what would normally live in a Single Family Residence, which includes my zoning designation. The definition of family does not require all members to be related,rather only that they share living and cooking. As you can see from the Boarding Agreement, XXXX has a bedroom and access to all common rooms for living and cooking. XXXX pays no rent, however she does work for my home occupation, and onecould suggest that her salary compensation includes something for board. The question may be raised, would receiving compensation for board, especially from an unrelated person, violate Single Family Residential zoning? Looking at the definition of a Boardinghouse provides some insight. A Boardinghouse would not be allowed in a Single Family Residential zone. A Boardinghouse is at the point where the owner has 4 or more unrelated boarders (taking the more conserva- tive version of the ambiguousdefinition). As I have 1 unrelated boarder, it would seem because I'm not a Board- inghouse, my residence would not be in violation of Single Family Residential Zoning. XXXXX, my other engineer, is not a "member of household", nor does he work on premises, although he may occasional stop by for up to about 2 hours for quick conversations and to pick up or drop off materials or sam- ples. Phase 2: Operating within home occupation by right limits is not a good fit for my business. Ineed to have XXXXX conduct testing, and I need customers to occasionally visit. I have identified 2 potential commercial locations; one on upper Stedman St in Lowell; and the other in Boxboro. I'm expecting by 19 Feb to have moved my lab equipment and desks/benchs for 2 engineers to one of these locations. XXX, my office manager, and the environmental chamber will stay here. XXXX and I might occasionally operate from12 Stedman. I expect to operate in this fashion until my appeal is decided. Phase 3: I will be formally appealing the ZBA's decision in Land Court, with notice to Land Courtand town by the (20 day) deadline of 17 Feb. The process is in MGL 40A, Section 17.
  12. 12. I've hired an attorney to help with this.The findings made by ZBA betray the facts. My home occupation does not exceed anydetrimental effects over a baseline of a family of 5 living in this 4 bedroom house, and provides bene- fit to the town consistent with employing 4 persons, and helping 36 local medical device firms with their regula- tory approvals over the last 5 years; clearlymeeting the criteria for a Special Permit outlined in 195-103(B) My engineering consulting business with ancillary electrical testing is "incidental and customary" for home occu- pations.My decision to appeal the ZBA's decision was not made lightly. My first choice was to respect my neigh- bors' wishes, and ZBA's decision. But because of financial constraints my options are limited. Appealing this decision will be cheaper than renting commercial space for the next 2 years, effectively paying the same rent for 25% more house than I need, while trying to sell this house for what I paid in Jan 2009, and trying to buy a 25% smaller house. I made a decision to make this address my home and office, as allowed by town bylaws, and to change strate- gies in mid-stream is not financially viable. If at some point I obtain a Special Permit, I would have 1 non-house- hold employee,XXXXX, and there would be what ever additional conditions the ZBA/Land Courtfound appropriate, such as maximum 2 years, 5 customer visits/month, no sign, no name on trucks. Bylaw Violation No. 01125, Dated 9 Feb 10 Between my 2 earlier emails, I would have thought I had already made it clear Pooja Soni's status as a boarder, and therefore as also a member of the household. I therefore did not appreciate receiving ticket no. 01125, for a violation of 195-7(B)(2) for $100. This ticket would seem to have been issued in error. One, because XXXX's car,Lic no. ######, is allowed in the driveway as XXXX is a boarder; and two, because the ticket incorrectly indicates that the violation was to 195-7(B)(2), which isn't applicable as I don't have a Spe- cial Permit. The applicable bylaw would be 195-7(A)(3), if the concern was a non-household member's car in the driveway. I'd appreciate receiving anotice that this ticket has been annulled. My neighbors: A copy of this letter is being provided to my neighbors, Ken and Dorothy Skelley, Laurie Myers, and Roy Earley, as I would prefer they hear of my plans from me, rather than indirectly from another source. They're free to share this information with my other neighbors. Although I have some constraints on what I can do financially, I'm more than willing to meet with my neighbors and explore any and all conditions that would allow me to operate my home occupation. If we reach a point where the ZBA will be looking at this again, it would seem much more logical that we as neighbors work out acompromise, that we would ask the ZBA to approve. I know they're very adamant about keeping a residential setting, and see no room for compromise. I'm not asking them to compromise on this, in that I don't see how any one except those who have been told, would know I have a home occupation in my home. Home occupations are for residential zones. They don't represent zone creep, they're the town's recognition that nurturing a small business, while it remains small, is in the town's long term interest. Given that I can keep my home occupation within the same limits as a family of 5 at this 4 bedroom house, I'm hoping my neighbors will see room to compromise. Because of financial contraints I need my home occupation to remain at my home; rather than 3 to 5 years like I wanted, at least for 2 years. I hope with time,we'll be able to find some common ground.I hope this helps clarify my intentions for continuing my business. Please let me know of any additional information I can provide, or of any questions or comments. Sincerely: Frank O’Brien ********************************* EDITOR’S NOTE: FRANK O’BRIEN ASKED THAT THE EMPLOYEES NAMES AND LICENCE PLATE NUMBERS BE EDITED OUT FOR PUBLICATION.
  13. 13. From O’Brien Compliance Management’s Website 2/12/2010: OBCM has new Location for Laboratory Operations OBCM will now be operating out of two offices. Engineering and Laboratory operations will now be at the new address 225 Stedman St, Suite 7, Lowell, MA, 01851. Administrative op- erations will continue from the 12 Stedman St, Chelmsford, MA 10824 address. The envi- ronmental chamber remains at 12 Stedman St. Photos are directions are here. "We're very pleased to have this new location for our electrical safety testing laboratory, " explains Frank O'Brien, the business owner. "This step will allow us to have our engineers working in the lab, and to have visitors, something we haven't been able to do since October." *** ******************************************* *** EDITORS NOTE: The last sentence in my humble opinion is both “imaginary and hypothetical” hypothetical Hopefully Mr.O’Brien will correct this mis-information on his website. “It’s the world according to Frank, there is no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no intention to follow the by-laws,he’s making it up as he goes along.” “ Cease and Desist means Stop! He has never stopped!” - Mary Tiano Steadman Street ZBA hearing 1/14/2010
  14. 14. DG Clean Power “We’re just banging our head against the wall, (L to R) “Even if we got permits, no one is buying power. It became pretty academic pretty soon. Ed Liston & Other than some renewable projects, I don’t see anything getting built in the next five to 10 Joseph years in New England.” - Joe Fitzpatrick - CEO of DG Clean Power Fitzpatrick - Billerica Minuteman 2/4/2010 Slipping energy sales lead developer to drop out of ISO New England POWER PLANT UNPLUGGED Billerica power plant proposal is dead, as investors walk away Opponents cheer as Billerica power-plant project dropped By Chris Camire, 02/04/2010 BILLERICA -- Investors in a proposed power plant in North Billerica have abandoned the controversial project, according to Joseph Fitzpatrick, CEO of DG Clean Power, the plant's developer. Billerica Watchers Group, the local citizens group formed to oppose the power plant, celebrated the latest development in the power plant's three-year saga yesterday. Still, they would not rule out that the project could return one day. "We love the news. It's just proof that David can slay Goliath," said Ed Camplese, president of the Billerica Watchers Group. "We're still cautious, though, because some other investors could come in to develop (the power plant)." Fitzpatrick said yesterday that Texas-based Montgomery Power Partners, the major investor behind the plant, recently sent a letter to Independent System Operator-New England, saying it does not want to continue with the project. This development is significant, said Fitzpatrick, because it could remove the Billerica Energy Center from ISO New England's waiting list to provide electricity to the region. ISO New England is the organization that operates the regional power grid. "We've communicated (to ISO-New England) we are no longer actively developing the project," said Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick noted it is possible the $200 million, 348-megawatt, natural-gas-fired plant could be reintroduced in several years, but he added that the demand for electricity would have to increase significantlyfor that to happen. The plant's proponents had already announced last year that the project would be put on hold due to a recent drop in electricity demand across New England. In the past year, demand fell by 2.2 percent, according to ISO New England spokesman Erin O'Brien. The need for peak plants was further reduced by the ISO entering into demand-response contracts with several businesses during their last two auctions, said Fitzpatrick. Under the demand-response program, the grid pays businesses to turn their lights off during peak hours to conserve energy before seeking additional power from a generator. Throughout all of the developments involving the plant last year, the proponents were still moving through the permitting process to gain approval to build the project. That, too, stopped last May, when DG Clean Power withdrew its application for two wetlands permits with the town amidst concerns raised by the Billerica Conservation Commission. At the time Fitzpatrick said his company would resubmit its application later that year, but it never did. O'Brien confirmed yesterday that the Billerica Energy Center had been withdrawn from the queue of proposed projects in the region. O'Brien explained that in a competitive marketplace, investors consider many factors when evaluating whether to proceed with a proposal and that it is not uncommon for a changing business environment to affect a developer's plans. The ISO has tracked power plant proposals since 1997, and of those proposed, more than 60 percent have withdrawn their applications to be built. The state's Energy Facilities Siting Board issued a permit for the Billerica Energy Center in February of last year. The next phase of permitting was to go through the Billerica Board of Health, Conservation Commission and Planning Board, and the Department of Environmental Protection and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs at the state level.
  15. 15. Chelmsford principal in school gift-shop controversy will retire By Rita Savard, Updated: 02/08/2010 06:37:24 AM EST CHELMSFORD -- After 19 years at the helm of the Byam Elementary School, Principal Jane Gilmore will retire in June. "My days here have been inspiring and fulfilling to me," Gilmore wrote in a letter to parents Friday. "I will al- ways treasure my moments at the Byam School." An advertisement to fill Gilmore's position was also posted Friday on the Chelmsford Public Schools' Web site, with a salary listing of $90,000 to $98,000. Gilmore's departure follows the controversy that was kicked up last year by two parents over a long-stand- ing policy banning religious items at the school's annual holiday gift-shop fundraiser. Since 1982, the school's PTO and principal banned anything to do with religion or a religious celebration at the event. But the policy was challenged in November when Byam mothers Kathryn McMillan and Kath- leen Cullen asked for all holiday-themed items, from Santa Claus to menorahs, to be reinstated. The debate took the national stage after the story was picked up by media outlets across the country, in- cluding conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly, who made Chelmsford the focus of his annual war-on- Christmas rant. But dozens of Byam parents fiercely defended Gilmore during a packed School Committee meeting in the Chelmsford High School Performing Arts Center in November. Parent Carol Kelly-Suleski said Gilmore is the kind of principal who knows each of her 584 students by name, and always makes a point of helping youngsters with families who have fallen on tough times. "The media has made Jane Gilmore look like a nutcase, and we all should be very concerned about that," said Kelly-Suleski, who added that Gilmore's kind and giving nature embodied the true spirit of the holiday season. Superintendent of Schools Donald Yeoman, who could not be reached yesterday, has also consistently praised Gilmore's leadership skills, calling her an educator who "always puts children first." Yeoman said the gift-shop debate had flooded the Byam office with calls and e-mail from around the coun- try, some of which were hateful and threatening and raised concerns over school safety. Yeoman said there were also many words of support and encouragement for the principal. "This is a woman who truly loves children," he said in earlier comments. "The parents who've met (Gilmore) know that and they ap- preciate what she does very much." Gilmore told parents that after all of her years at Byam, she contin- ues to "be energized by the desire to learn that our students bring to school each day, and by the com- mitment to education that is so ev- ident in the support provided to our school by our parent commu- nity." Photo by Tom Christiano The application deadline for the Byam principal position is March 5. Gilmore's successor will begin work July 1.
  16. 16. Chelmsford to welcome new school business manager By Chloe Gotsis/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 28, 2010 Chelmsford — Kathy McWilliams calls herself a good problem solver and says she tries hard to make everything a positive. On March 1, McWilliams will take over as the school district’s new business manager because the School Committee thought these qualities and McWilliams’ background in finance make her a strong successor to School Business Manager Bob Cruickshank. McWilliams, who is the current school business manager for the Pentucket Regional School District, is a certified business manager and purchasing officer in the Bay State. Q So what attracted you to the school district? A What attracted me was the superintendent having out-of-state experience. I like that because I think in Massachusetts a lot of the superintendents are just from here and I think you have a different flavor if you’ve worked outside of the state. So I’m excited to learn that. I got a really good feeling from meeting with the staff and everyone in the district. They were really positive about their district. It felt like an upbeat place, even though funding is such an issue. They seem to support education and that’s the feeling I got. Q So, how does Chelmsford’s school district compare with Pentucket? A Well, I’m from a regional school district, meaning that it had three towns and each board of selectmen had to okay the budget. Similarly, they had a cost per pupil that was like Chelmsford. Both districts do well on the MCAS and spend less money. I liked that about Chelmsford, that they get a good value for their education. My current budget at Pentucket is $35 million and it has 3,500 students and I think that Chelmsford is larger and has a $45 million budget with about 5,500 students. So I think that’ll be a challenge, but I’ll find it interesting to do something new. It’s a district with state oversight. The selectmen had requested in 2006 that the state come in and have a control board for the district’s finances. I had just got hired then, so I helped turn around their finances. There’s no other district like it in the state besides Nashoba Valley and Springfield. Q Do the two districts have any of the same challenges? A Well, it’s an incredibly difficult time in Massachusetts for public education and we presented a budget in my district with a zero percent increase and we have to cut approximately 39 positions for a level-funded budget. I’m very good at looking at efficiencies. I’m an out-of-the-box thinker. Things don’t always work, but at least I’m an idea thinker. It’s not sustainable to think you can deliver the same education that you did in the past five years with the state telling you that they have less funds for you. It’s just going to be more challenges and more than ever a business manager position is going to be key. I feel lucky to take over for someone like Bob, who has been there for 17 years. If anyone’s been there for 17 years, they’ve survived. Q You mentioned that you helped turn around Pentucket’s finances, so that it ran under a control board. Does that give you a sense of accomplishment knowing that you are partly responsible for that transition? A It was a challenge at the time, but it was fun to bring something back together. It’s very efficient now. I’m leaving them now in a better position than when I began. It’s been very rewarding to work there. It’s a highly functioning business office now. I made great decisions on who to hire for director of technology and payroll. I’m very gratified I hired these people. I’m sad to go but it’s gratifying and it should operate well in my absence.
  17. 17. Politically Incorrect Tube Talk with Tom Christiano The panelists on the FEB 9, 2010 "Politically Incorrect" TV Show are (l to r) Jack Wang-School Committee candidate, Peggy Dunn -Town Meeting Representative candidate precinct 1, Tom Christiano - Host & Town Meeting Representative candidate precinct 9, Sue Carter- Planning Board candidate, & Rick Mahoney-Library Trustee candidate. Topics : Why they are running for office this year? The $5M DPW ballot question The Epsilon Building on North Road & the SGI mailing The threatening anti-gay facebook page Paul Cohen's performance as our Town Manager Status of the billboards in Chelmsford CLICK HERE to watch show
  18. 18. Town Talk with Dennis Ready and Mary Gregoire 2/4/10 Selectmen Pat Wojtas explains why she is running for re-election CLICK HERE 2/4/10 State Representative Tom Golden talks about the State budget and also about a certain State Rep who was double dipping as the Mayor of Lawrence CLICK HERE 2/11/10 Economic Development Com- mission member and School Committee Candidate Janet Askenburg tells what she wants to bring to the School Committee CLICK HERE
  19. 19. Chelmsford responds to North Road lawsuit By Chloe Gotsis/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 28, 2010 Chelmsford — The Historic District Commission has filed its response in Middlesex Superior Court to a lawsuit charging them with acting in an unreasonable manner and outside of its jurisdiction when it approved a two-story of- fice building on North Road. On behalf of the HDC the town is arguing that the HDC acted within its authority and complied with rele- vant state and local laws, bylaws and review standards, according to court documents filed on Jan. 15. The applicant, Epsilon Associates, is alleging in its response that the lawsuit, filed by Michael Sargent, a neigh- bor of the office building, is insubstantial and fails to state a claim which can be solved. Epsilon also denies that Sargent’s business Boars Head LLC at 21 Chelmsford St. is a direct abutter to the North Road building’s proposed site. HDC Chairman Dennis Ready previously said that the Bruce Free- man Rail trail separates the two sites. Both Epsilon and the HDC deny allegations that they were not presented with evidence showing that plans for the 15,494 square-foot, two-story office building at 11 North Road satisfied all review standards. Sargent’s attorney Peter Lawlor filed an appeal against the decision in Middlesex Superior Court on Dec. 28. But Ready said the complaint is merely a delaying tactic and will not go far in court. Patricia Cantor a lawyer for town counsel Kopelman and Paige sign the town’s response. Philip Eliopolous, a lawyer and the son of the Michael Eliopolous, a manager at Epsilon also signed the town’s response. Town Manager Paul Cohen said the Planning Board hearing on the building is still open, but is expected to close on Feb. 10 at its next meeting. ***************************************** Hearing on North Road office building closed Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 11.FEB.10 The Planning Board closed the public hearing on Epsilon Group LLC’s proposed North Road office build- ing but opted not to begin deliberations on the project until its next meeting. Attorney Peter Lawlor, who represents abutter Mike Sargent, urged the board to keep the hearing open until it addresses what he considers flawed plans regarding parking spaces, landscaping and inadequate snow storage.
  20. 20. “Your responsibility is to listen to the public,” said Lawlor. “I ask this board to keep an open mind.” Lawlor said the board should reject the site plan because the applicant has failed to present all the infor- mation that is required. Epsilon’s lawyer Phil Eliopoulos said he does not agree with Lawlor but will continue to look into whether there are legitimate flaws in the plan based on zoning requirements. Planning Board Chairman George Zaharoolis discounted Lawlor’s claims about the lack of snow storage. “The snow storage is in the plan,” said Zaharoolis. Zaharoolis also curtailed discussion about the Preservation Restriction that opponents to the plan believe prohibit the office building. The Planning Board has taken its cue from town counsel, who believes the building could be approved. Lawlor countered that the enforcement of the restriction lies with the Board of Selectmen and not the Planning Board or town counsel. But even without involving the selectmen, Lawlor believes the Planning Board is within its rights to reject the site plan and to deny special permits needed to construct the building. “The zoning code authorizes you to consider impacts to the natural environment. Consider the loss of this open space and what it means,” said Lawlor. “You don’t have to approve this project. You should not have to approve this project. You cannot approve this project.”
  21. 21. BATTLE LINES Chelmsford anti-40B group sued over nonpayments to signature-gathering firm By Rita Savard, 01/30/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Facing a tight deadline in their petition campaign to repeal the state's affordable-housing law, the Chelmsford-based Slow Growth Initiative hired a professional signature-gathering firm for help. Now SGI is facing a lawsuit from the company for nonpayment of services. Rob Wilkinson, co-owner of Freedom Petition Management, told The Sun yesterday that once SGI had its signatures, "they stopped paying." "We collected around 91,000 signatures for SGI, as well as offering consulting services to teach them how to do it," Wilkinson said. "They have violated their contract in all regards." Wilkinson said he has hired a lawyer, Anthony McGuiness of Boston-based Sassoon and Cymrot, to help him retrieve funds owed. Wilkinson declined to comment on the amount owed, except to say it was "a lot." Craig Chemaly, executive director of SGI, confirmed his organization still owes money to Wilkinson's company, but declined to disclose how much. "Gathering the signatures we needed was not an inexpensive undertaking," Chemaly said. "They were a great help to us and we're working as hard as we possibly can to pay them off. We've been making regular payments to them for as much as we can." SGI has already paid the company more than $200,000, but Wilkinson said Freedom Petition Management is still owed thousands more. The Worcester-based company charged SGI more than $3 per signature, and had an agreement with SGI to get paid for consulting services on how to gather signatures, Wilkinson said. A massive grass-roots effort to cancel the Chapter 40B law from state books took off in 2007 with the goal of placing a question on the 2008 election ballot. But efforts were derailed when the petition drive, led by the Repeal 40B Ballot Question Committee, was unable to gather enough signatures. "It's not that support wasn't there," Chemaly said. "We had no shortage of supporters. But Massachusetts makes it really tough to get a ques- tion on the ballot, with some of the strictest rules and shortest time frames to collect a very large number of signatures. "You'll find that most ballot committees hire professional companies to meet their goal," he added. "We were looking at a small window, about four weeks to gather about 100,000 signatures, so we needed to make sure we got enough this year to get the question on the bal- lot." Recent filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance show that in December, SGI donated $283,900 in in-kind contributions to the Repeal 40B Committee, an Arlington-based group led by John Belskis. The contribution is described as monetary value of the $91,200 signatures donated by SGI to the Coalition to Repeal 40B. Belskis' group has been working for years to get the Legislature to make improvements to the 40B law, which they say has failed to create much affordable housing. Chemaly and SGI agree, saying Massachusetts remains the 47th state in the country for affordable-housing stock because the law has only lined the pockets of developers and bankers while pushing local zoning laws aside. Chapter 40B allows developers to bypass zoning laws in communities where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is deemed affordable, in exchange for allocating at least 20 percent of a project's units to lower-income households. The law has been in effect for about 40 years. After the repeal-40B ballot initiative passed the first hurdle in getting on the November ballot, proponents of the 40B law are gearing up for a fight. Aaron Gornstein, executive director for the Citizen's Housing and Planning Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization for affordable housing and community development, said the law has helped create more than 56,000 housing units since the early 1970s. "Erasing the law from the books is not going to help families who are struggling to find affordable housing in this economy," Gornstein said. "We have a lot of people coming on board to help us make sure affordable housing is not compromised for all the seniors, the working class and middle-class families who desperately need it." More than 100,000 voters signed a petition to remove the law last year. If the Legislature doesn't approve the petition, SGI will have to col- lect another 11,099 signatures to get the question on the ballot. SGI was formed in Chelmsford in 2008 with the purpose of promoting sustainable energy. Although SGI is a statewide organization, Chemaly said it made sense to plant roots in Chelmsford, a community he calls "a battleground for 40B." SGI is a division of the New Hampshire-based New England Coalition for Sustainable Population, a nonprofit that supports reducing human population growth. Both organizations believe overpopulation stretches natural resources to their limits, leading to deforestation, food and water shortages, as well as climate change. The NECSP supports a woman's right to sex-education awareness that includes the use of contra- ceptives to prevent unwanted and unplanned pregnancies. Chemaly said SGI is focused more on development and economic policies.
  22. 22. Repeal 40B update : State ballot question November 2010 Almost seven years ago a group of people from 12 different towns gathered at a meeting in Braintree. These citizen activists initiated the organization that now has members in almost 200 of the 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. Their efforts and the support of many others has reached what was once thought an impossible goal. On January 4, 2010 the Secretary of State delivered to the House of Representatives an Ini- tiative Petition seeking placement of the repeal of MGL 40B before the voters of Massachu- setts on the 2010 November State election ballot. House Bill 4455 ************************* Chelmsford Independent Editorial: GateHouse News Service Feb 08, 2010 Chelmsford — Repeal-minded The move to repeal Chapter 40B has found traction. According to a story in Banker & Tradesman, the Re- peal 40B Ballot Question Committee has spent close to $200,000 collecting signatures to put repeal be- fore voters in November. The story goes on to say that Chelmsford-based Slow Growth Initiative has spearheaded the effort to gather the signatures and more than 80,000 were turned in to the Secretary of State’s office, more than enough to get the measure to a vote. It’s big change from 2008, when the repeal-minded group fell well short of the number needed to get re- peal on the ballot. That’s all well and good, but as we’ve said numerous times: It’s fine to point out problems, but please have an alternate solution. Yes, 40B is a flawed piece of law, but the need for affordable housing in Massachusetts is very real. So, if the law is repealed, is there anything formulated to take its place? ************************ Letters to the Editor Accusations are unjustified The Lowell Sun 02/08/2010 I would like to make a brief rebuttal to Craig Chemaly's Jan. 28 letter to The Sun. I have been a taxpayer in Chelmsford now for more than 50 years, and my son and his wife have been taxpayers for 18 years. My daughter-in-law serves as a Town Meeting representative and clerk of the Planning Board, which are elected positions, as well as a com- mittee member of the Arts & Technology Education Fund Committee as appointed by the town manager. I know for a fact that she in no way has enriched herself or would ever intend to serve her own purposes. Mr. Chemaly should check his facts before making accusatory statements. Next Saturday February 20th on RADIO 960 WCAP JOHN E. STANSFIELD Saturday Morning Live 6 am to 10 am Chelmsford with former Dracut Selectman Warren Shaw Political Talk for the Western part of the Merrimack Valley Guests include Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen and Slow Growth Initative Director Craig Chemaly Listen in... Call in
  23. 23. Letters to the Editor ( UNEDITED ) TM rep: Slow Growth Initiative issues propaganda The Lowell Sun 02/13/2010 As a resident of Chelmsford and a Town Meeting Representative, I am both insulted and appalled at the latest town wide mailing from the Slow Growth Initiative (SGI). This mailing is full of untruths and propaganda set out to pur- posely confuse and dismay the Chelmsford residents. There is no reason, nor need for the Board of Selectman (BOS) to start searching for a replacement for the Chelms- ford Town Manager. Mr. Cohen met and exceeded expectations and received a unanimous high praise review from the Board of Selectman in 2009. The Permanent Building Committee (PBC) completed and reported on their assigned task to the appropriate commit- tees of the Town. Yes, the Town Manager did mention the pursuance of stimulus funding and/or grants to help the town meet the expenses of a new DPW and Fire Station. There was no promise of these funds. The land behind the Center Fire Station was purchased by Epsilon LLC. The proposed building/project for that parcel of land is going through all proper procedures and boards as required. SGI quotes, “Cohen publicly pegs the tax increase at between $62 and $73 per year. According to local media and common sense, the actual annual tax impact would be hundreds of dollars per household, effective in the very next tax cycle.” The tax increase was not a number Mr. Cohen picked out of the air, and this statement was taken out of context. It would be interesting to see the financial formulas that the SGI used to justify “hundreds of dollars per household”. This is pure sensationalism at its best. Mr. Cohen never said that repairing the Center Fire Station was not an option; it was not our only option. All options were presented to the Town Meeting Reps at the Fall Town Meeting for consideration. SGI quotes, “This philosophy also explains Cohen’s desire to consolidate and build a new DPW station. This frees up three other DPW sites for new construction. Regarding the Richardson Road site in particular, Cohen supports a large “mixed-use” commercial and high-density residential development that would further hurt the town’s long term fi- nances and choke North Chelmsford with more traffic.” Again, sensationalism.” As a resident and water-taker in North Chelmsford, this is one of the best proposals submitted. Due to the location of the current DPW on Richardson Road, there are legal actions and lawsuits being pursued by the North Chelmsford Water District against the town of Chelmsford. The cost of the lawsuits and legal expenses between the Town of Chelmsford and the North Chelmsford Water De- partment could prove to be a very, very expensive to the taxpayers. The proposed relocation of the DPW to Alpha Road in Chelmsford, locating it in an industrial park and away from the North Chelmsford Water Supply is one that should be seriously considered. Not only will the residents of Chelmsford see an increase in their taxes for legal fees, but the residents of North Chelmsford will be paying twice!! Who do you think will be paying the legal fees for the North Chelmsford Water De- partment? Yes, there could be a “mixed-use” for the DPW land on Richardson Road. Nothing has been proposed, and nothing has been formally discussed. This move would benefit all Chelmsford residents. It would ease the legal burdens that are against the DPW and the town would gain a very large parcel for “mixed-use” including open space options. It’s a win- win situation for everyone. The Slow Growth Initiative Organization has bashed the Town of Chelmsford as a whole and its elected officials for its own personal gain. I found the last item on the “What You Can Do” page, suggests an “annual tax-deductable dona- tion of just $35 dollars makes you an official Slow Growth Initiative member” insulting. If The Slow Growth Initiative organization is interested in doing a fund-raiser, that’s great, but don’t use the Town of Chelmsford as your bait. The Slow Grown Initiative Organization needs to go find another sandbox to play in. I will NEVER make any donation or have my name associated with any organization such as the Slow Growth Initia- tive (SGI) that uses propaganda and causes confusion and unnecessary concern to the residents of Chelmsford. Maria Karafelis Precinct 2 Town Meeting Representative
  24. 24. Chelmsford businessman settles suit over property funds By Lisa Redmond, 02/13/2010 LOWELL -- Chelmsford businessman Samuel Poulten has reached an agreement that settles a lawsuit brought by a homeown- ers association that alleged he misused $12,000 of the association's money in order to pay property taxes on his Chelmsford home and on another parcel, according to court documents. Lamplighter Green Homeowners Association Inc. filed suit in Lowell District Court on Jan. 29, alleging em- bezzlement, larceny and fraud against Poulten and his companies, Telamos Inc. and Telamos Realty Trust II. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Lowell Realtor Brian McMahon, a trustee of 22 Hatikva Way Realty Trust, and Lowell attorney Louis Saab, the mortgagee of 22 Hatikva Way Realty Trust. Poulten said Thursday that he was totally unaware of a lawsuit or settlement. "This is weird and disturbing," Poulten told The Sun. "Any lawyer can file anything." Saab did not return a call for comment left at his Lowell law office. McMahon declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agree- ment by all parties. Court documents indicate the lawsuit was disposed by agreement on Feb. 4. The next day, the town of Chelmsford released a lien it placed on the 22 Hatikva Way property, according to the Middlesex Registry of Deeds. Those same records indicate that as of last September, there was a $64,451 federal tax lien placed on Poulten's Chelmsford home at 16 Berkeley Way for taxes in 2005 and 2006. Attorney Richard McClure, who represents thehomeowners association, said he could not divulge details of the settlement because of the confiden- tiality agreement. But McClure confirmed Poulten signed the agreement and the lawsuit was dropped. According to the lawsuit, Poulten was on the homeowners board of directors with access to the checking account from 2001 to 2004. The suit alleges he used the association's checks to pay property taxes on the parcel he owned at 22 Hatikva Way, which is within Lamplighter Green, and his home at 16 Berkeley Drive in Chelmsford. It is alleged that the checks totaled $11,615. The homeowners association said it discovered the alleged theft in 2004, but opted not to take out a criminal complaint, instead placing a lien on the Hatikva Way property for a total of $12,255 including lawyer's fees, according to the lawsuit. When the prop- erty was sold, the lien would have to be paid. But last November, residents of Lamplighter Green noticed a foundation was being poured to build a single-family home at 22 Hatikva Way, which Poulten, through Telamos Realty Trust II, sold to McMahon for $60,000. As part of the sale, Saab held $13,500 in escrow for the lien, according to the lawsuit. The homeowner's association notified McMahon in January that there was a lien on the property, but Poulten didn't release the escrow money. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 29, and the association went to court Feb. 3 to get a temporary restraining order bring- ing construction to a stop. Lamplighter Green was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s as one of the first privately funded affordable-housing complexes in Chelmsford. It was not without controversy. Lamplighter Green was originally proposed in 1987 as an 11-house project. The number was limited by town zoning due to the use of septic systems in that area. The 11-house project ballooned into a 244-unit project when there was a push by some residents, who had an option on the property, to extend the town's sewer line to include the housing development. One of the investors served on the Board of Assessors and the Conservation Commission. With the promise of a sewer line, the price of the property soared and the residents who bought the land sold it to Poulten. It took Poulten years of legal wrangling to begin construction, with the size trimmed to less than 100 units by the early 1990s. Poulten is well-known in local and national Democratic political circles. He represents Chelmsford on the Nashoba Valley Techni- cal High School Committee, and has served on the Chelmsford School Committee. He is a partner in Merrimack Valley Radio LLC, owner of WCAP in Lowell. In January 2006, when Poulten was a partner in the local reality firm ERA Morrison, the firm purchased McMahon's real-estate company, United Estates Realty. McMahon also had a small stake in the deal that saw Poulten and Clark Smidt purchase WCAP in September 2007.
  25. 25. Chelmsford settles on a pair of trash collection contractors By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Feb 09, 2010 Chelmsford — Come July, residents will have two new vendors picking up their trash and recycling. Selectmen awarded a three-year contracts Monday night to Allied Waste of Tyngs- boro for the town’s manual solid waste collection and Integrated Paper Recycling of Woburn for bi-weekly single stream recycling. Allied Waste was the lowest bidder of five vendors at $890,700 with a three percent increase in the second and third years. Integrated Paper Recycling was the lowest bidder at $330,000 with no in- crease per year. Town Manager Paul Cohen told the selectmen that with the help of Carolyn Dunne from the Massachu- setts Department of Environmental Protection, he and Jennifer Almeida reviewed each bid last Wednes- day starting with the vendor’s technical proposals first. “We ranked Allied Waste as the preferred vendor and the good news is that they were the lowest bidder,” said Cohen. Cohen said that both vendors are reputable, qualified and came with strong recommendations. Allied Waste currently has automated collection contracts in Tewksbury, Billerica, Burlington and Tyngsboro. In- tegrated Paper Recycling is the current recycling vendor in both Westford and Andover. “The good news is it’s a good contract in terms of price, vendor quality and outcome,” said Cohen. Both contracts begin on July 1, 2010. The town is entering into a joint solid waste contract with Westford. The new contract transitions residents from the town’s current four 32-gallon barrel limit with FW Russell to a limit of two 32-gallon barrels. Residents will continue to use the same recycling bins and barrels. Under the single-stream recycling contract, residents will no longer have to separate paper and plastics for their recycling and will only have to separate solid waste items from recyclables. “Even cardboard handling will be easier,” said Cohen. Cohen said the town was successful in preventing any escalation in cost from a rise in fuel. In the fall officials explored the option of automated solid waste collection for the town, but residents were not receptive to the trash limitations imposed by the collection method. Residents ex- pressed concerns about limiting their trash collections to one 40- gallon trash toter, which would be the most cost effective option for waste collection.
  26. 26. Route 3 sound barrier construction will begin this summer By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Feb 09, 2010 Chelmsford — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced a plan last week to install 2,500 feet of con- crete sound barriers along Route 3, which officials say will improve the quality of life for 29 Chelmsford house- holds. MassDOT told the town officials and Chelmsford residents living along Route 3 at a public meeting last week that it will go to bid this spring on for the sound barriers, which will run along Twiss Road, Leedburg Street and Waterford Place. The announcement marks the end of a five-year long effort by state legislators, town officials and residents in the area to secure sound barriers. “We fought hard collectively, not only myself, but also the citizens persisted in fighting for that barrier to make it a reality,” said Philip Eliopoulos, a former selectmen, who worked throughout his tenure to make sure the town benefited from the Route 3 expansion. “It’s good to finally see it come to fruition.” Of the 2,500 feet of the barrier, approximately 1,800 is slated to be a concrete panel and the southernmost 750 feet is an earthen berm or dirt hill, according to MassDOT spokesman Adam Hurtubise. Hurtubise said the heights of the will vary, but will average between 12 and 15 feet. Eliopolous said the fight for a sound barrier began when the notice of the project was released in 2000 and con- tinued throughout construction and completion of the project in the fall of 2004. “It was certainly a fight we were fighting from day one,” he said. “It was really a fight throughout that project to get the state to see it make sense.” Town Manager Paul Cohen said the more than 50 people that attended last week’s public hearing on the sound barriers were pleased to hear the news. Cohen said the project, which will begin this summer, will come at no cost to the town. Overall, it will cost the state between $3 million and $5 million, he said. Throughout Gov. Deval Patrick’s campaign for his first term in office in 2006, he touted the Route 3 sound barri- ers as a priority. At a campaign stop in Chelmsford in July 2006, he told residents, “Candidates promise a lot of things, especially when they’re campaigning. But I will get that barrier up. If it doesn’t get done, box my ears; I’ll deserve it.” In 2007 Patrick asked MassHighway to conduct another study on the sound barriers, but the report presented in August 2007 conducted by KM Chng Environment, Inc. showed the proposed barrier would not reduce noise for enough households to make it worthwhile. But residents and the Chelmsford delegation didn’t give up. “This has been a project that the Chelmsford delegation has worked closely on for over five years,” said state Rep, Jim Arciero, who worked on the project as an aide under former state Rep. Geoff Hall. “It’s a long overdue project.” Hall previously said in 2007 that it was up to the governor to push the plan forward. Eliopoulos said the barrier was approved after the construction for the project, but he thinks the bankruptcy of former developer Modern Continental further delayed the project. “The money that was earmarked to my understanding was tied up in bankruptcy,” said Eliopoulos. Modern Continental has since gone out of business. Construction of the section of Route 3 already hampered the quality of life for Chelmsford residents living along the highway, Eliopoulos said.
  27. 27. C h e l m s fo r d r e a d y t o o p e n b i l l b o a r d b i d s By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Feb 12, 2010 C hel msford — The town is prepar ing to open bi ds for adver ti s i ng bi l l boards that w i l l appear near C hel msford High School and al ong R oute 3. Tow n Manager Paul Cohen s ai d bi d propos al s from i nteres ted vendors are due Fr i day, Feb. 19. Officials met with hal f a dozen i nteres ted vendors Feb. 3 to answer ques ti ons about the contract, he said. B ut there i s no guarantee the tow n w i l l rec ei ve the s ame number of bids this week. “We don’t know if we’ll get one bi d or s i x bi ds,” s ai d C ohen. “We had the s ame [pre-bi d meeting] with the trash [contrac ts ]. We had ei ght [vendors at the pre-bi d meeti ng] and then we got five bids.” The town is embar king on new terr i tor y after Tow n Meeti ng voted to al l ow the S c hool C ommittee to transfer land to the tow n for the pur pos e of c ons tr uc ti ng revenue-gener - ati ng billboards under a 20-y uear l eas e. C ohen said he is unsure of how muc h revenue the tow n w i l l generate from the bi l l - board sales because it will be the fi rs t i n the area to enter i nto s uc h a c ontrac t on tow n-owned land. Billboards i n Lowel l Ty ngs boro are pr i vatel y ow ned, he s ai d. “I have no idea,” he said. “S ome peopl e have s ai d $50,000 s ome have had $100,000. We’ l l have to wait and see. We don’ t k now w hat the rec ord i s for that.” A ny revenue generated from the bi l l boards w i l l go i nto the tow n’s general fund and w i l l l i kel y be used in the operati ng budget. A fter a bid is awarded, the c hos en par ti es w i l l then appl y for a per mi t w i th the P l an- ni ng Board. The Planning B oard w i l l hol d a publ i c hear i ng on the per mi t and the appl i - c ant must apply for a licens e w i th the B oard of S el ec tmen. The town is basing its guidel i nes for the bi l l boards on the Mas s ac hus etts B ay Trans - por tation Author ity’s list of banned i tems i nc l udi ng profani ty, depi c ti ons of v i ol enc e, obs c enities and firear ms. Tobac c o produc ts are al s o banned from adver ti s i ng.
  28. 28. Longtime volunteer recognized for years of work By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Feb 09, 2010 Chelmsford — Some 30 years after she first joined the Chelmsford League of Women voters, Mary Frantz found herself poring line-by- line over the governor's budget last week and studying what it meant for education funding and Chelmsford. Frantz, who refers to herself as a political junkie, has devoted 30 years of her life to civic service including stints on the School Committee, Finance Committee, the Chelmsford League of Women Voters and as an education specialist for the Massachusetts League of Women Voters. The town’s League of Women Voters honored Frantz last week with its com- munity service award for her dedication to the town and civic activism. “Mary's dedication to the concept that ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport’ is evident in the many positions she has held in the League of Women Voters of Chelmsford, as a member of the School and Finance Committees, and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts,” said Janet Dubner, a member of the League of Women Voters of Chelmsford. Frantz was looking to return to the workforce after her children finished school, but instead she ran and was elected to the School Committee in 1999. But after one term on the School Committee evolved into three followed by 11 years on the Finance Committee, Frantz looked at her volunteer work as her full-time job. “I always thought of it as a full-time activity and treated it in that form,” said Frantz. “It’s just been sort of my thing. One often looks for a place to put one’s energy and that’s what I chose to do.” Frantz’s involvement with the School Committee and passion for education led to her involvement in the Massachusetts League of Women Voters. Her background in finance and statistics and attention to detail led Frantz to serve as an edu- cation finance specialist on the state league. “Mary understands not only school finance issues, and there are very few people in the state that do, but she under- stands other public policy issues that relate to education,” said Marilyn Segal, the executive director of Citizens for Public Education, who worked closely with Mary on education finance issues, in an e-mail. As a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, the League of Women Voters does not take a stance on any issue until it has fully formed a search committee and has educated itself on all sides of the issue. To Frantz the purpose of the league is to educate citizens on issues and encourage voting. “It’s so important to me that people understand issues and that’s been a leading role of the league,” she said. “Education is the lifeline of how we train people. Education and good education is how we create citizens of the future that will take the responsibility of citizenship very seriously.” Frantz took on a very active role in advocating to correct the state’s school finance issues. In the early 1990s she served as a spokesperson for an education bill and while that bill wasn’t passed, she said she thinks the League has influenced the direction the state has gone in with education since 1993. “What separates Mary from others is that she has always kept in the forefront in her actions and the need for govern- ment to work well,” said Clare Jeannotte, selectmen chairwoman and the treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Chelmsford. “She has a high level of respect for what good government means and tries very hard not to get that lost as she has participated in our town.” Jeannotte, one of the members responsible for choosing to honor Frantz, said Frantz not only participates but digs beneath the surface to investigate things and goes above and beyond what most do. “The League supports active community service and Mary has 30 years of active community service at some of the highest levels of local office,” said Jeannotte. While Chelmsford’s League membership has dwindled in recent years, Frantz said the organization chose to stay together because of the impor- tance of its work. Each year, the Chelmsford League holds a legislative night and a local candidates night. “We do our job because all of the people in the local League really believe in what we do,” said Frantz. Courtesy photo Mary Frantz with Jane Dubner.
  29. 29. Photos by Tom Christiano
  30. 30. The winners were: Amateur: First place - Donna Parlee - dogs at Parlee Farm 2nd - Sue Gates - Spaghetti & meatballs 3rd - Joanne Stanway - Wicked Witch of the West The Professional winner was: Susanne Monahan She was the only professional entry Student category: First place - Danielle Miner - coconut snowball 2nd - Troop 60623 - boat, ocean, fish 3rd - Maddie McCann - night sky black Photos by Tom Christiano
  31. 31. EXTRA EXTRAS Chelmsford Rotary presents concert GateHouse News Service Feb 08, 2010 Chelmsford — The Rotary Club of Chelmsford will bring back both Beantown and Syncopation for a concert on Friday, March 19 at 8 p.m. at the Chelmsford High School Performing Arts Center. Beantown is best known as the premier wedding band in New England. But last March, local concert fans saw why they have played for New England Patriot Super Bowl celebrations, Kraft family events and as a lead act for numerous top line entertainers. The band consists of 10 talented and dedicated musician/per- formers who feature Classic Rock, R&B, and Motown tunes. Syncopation "is a hot and spunky jazzy vocal group" that won the 2008 Annual Boston Harmony Sweep- stakes A Cappella Festival. Recently, they performed with The Boston Pops and Neil Diamond at The Hatch Shell in Boston last Fourth of July. Emcee of the event was Craig Ferguson of CBS's "The Late Late Show". The nationally televised event has propelled the group to new heights. The concert will benefit the Rotary so they can support projects with The Paul Center, the town of Chelmsford and CHS Alumni Association Scholarships, troops stationed at home and abroad, the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, The Salvation Army, The Lowell Wish Project and more. Tickets are $25 and are available from club members or by contacting John Taylor at 978-256-1834 and or Allen Thomas at 978-256-8772 and *********************************** Submitted by Jeff Hardy, Lynn Marcella, Brian Reidy - Chelmsford Parade Committee, Inc. THE GREAT AMERICAN 4TH OF JULY DVD NOW AVAILABLE! FORMER WGBH PRODUCER FRED BARZYK ALONG WITH CHELMSFORD TELEMEDIA HAS RELEASED “THE GREAT AMERICAN 4TH OF JULY”! THIS DOCUMENTARY WAS A LABOR OF LOVE BY FRED AND HIS TEAM. THEY SPENT A GOOD YEAR FOLLOWING THE PARADE COMMITTEE AND ALSO TOOK A LOOK AT THE LION’S COUNTRY FAIR, CHELMSFORD ART SOCIETY ART FESTIVAL, CHELMSFORD STARS COME 4TH – IDOL CONTEST AND THE JOHN CARSON MEMORIAL ROAD RACE. IT IS A WONDERFUL DOCUMENTARY ABOUT “OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION – CHELMSFORD STYLE”! OVER 36 HOURS OF FOOTAGE WAS PARED DOWN TO 1 HOUR OF LAUGHTER, SMILES AND TEARS. BE SURE TO GET YOUR COPY WHILE THEY ARE STILL AVAILABLE! DVD’S AVAILABLE FOR $10.00 AT: CHELMSFORD COPY CENTER – 978-256-5268 13 ALPINE LANE, PARLMONT PLAZA, CHELMSFORD HARRINGTON WINE & LIQUORS – 978-256-2711 CLICK HERE 10 SUMMER STREET, CHELMSFORD for short ------------------------------------ This year’s parade will be on MONDAY JULY 5th !!! preview Chelmsford Idol Stars come 4th: Auditions May 4th Old Town Hall 4th Dress Rehearsal May 13th PAC Finals May 20th PAC
  32. 32. Matt Hanson Candidate for Selectman Campaign Kickoff You’re invited to meet and talk with Matt. Date: Sunday, February 21, 2010 Time: 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm Place: Chelmsford Country Club 66 Park Road, Chelmsford Come in and discuss the issues with Matt. Voice your concerns and hear what he has to say. Refreshments will be served. Feel free to bring friends and family. ------------------------------------- Please feel free to contact me anytime on my cell at 978-319-5383, email me at or visit my website Sincerely, Matt Hanson Contributions welcome at the door or send to: The Committee to Elect Matt Hanson 16 Wedgwood Dr. Chelmsford, MA 01824
  33. 33. How Fights Start... QUOTE OF THE WEEK: My wife sat down on the sofa next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, 'What's on TV?' You could I said, 'Dust.' And then the fight started... talk about ********** My wife and I were watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, "Do you want to have sex?" same-sex "No," she answered. I then said, "Is that your final answer?" marriage, but She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying, "Yes.." So I said, "Then I'd like to phone a friend." people who And then the fight started.... ********** have been I rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car. You know how sometimes you just get soooo stressed and little things just seem funny? Yeah, well I couldn't believe it.... He was a DWARF!!! He stormed over to my car, looked up at married (say) me, and shouted, "I AM NOT HAPPY!!!" So, I looked down at him and said, "Well, then which one are you?" "It's the same And then the fight started..... ********* sex all the My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, 'I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.' time." I bought her a bathroom scale. And then the fight started.... ********** When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her some place expensive.... so, I took her to a gas station. - Robin And then the fight started... ********** After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security.. Williams The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's License to verify my age.. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application. When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the So- cial Security office. She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.' And then the fight started... ********** A woman was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to her husband, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.' The husband replied, 'Your eyesight's damn near perfect.' And then the fight started.....
  34. 34. In-Town Report NEWS LINKS Lowell Sun Chelmsford Independent Kevin Zimmerman’s Chelmsford Mass News Click here for the In-Town Report on Facebook Click here for the ITR archives CHRISTIANO PRODUCTIONS: POLITICALLY INCORRECT: INCORRECT Tues & Weds 8:30 PM; Thurs 7:00 AM; Sundays 11:00 AM Chelmsford Cable TV Channel 8 ********************* Photo taken by Helen Moriarty ROY EARLEY TOM CHRISTIANO Town Meeting Representative Precinct 6 Town Meeting Representative Precinct 9