ITR_ 01-28-10
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ITR_ 01-28-10

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IN TOWN REPORT

IN TOWN REPORT

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ITR_ 01-28-10 ITR_ 01-28-10 Document Transcript

  • Photo by Tom Christiano
  • 2010 Campaign Kick Off Eric Dahlberg for State Senate' winter coffee break Eric Dahlberg held his first State Senate campaign event of 2010 at Jones Farm in Chelmsford on January 10th Photos by Tom Christiano
  • Photos by Tom Christiano
  • Facing death without fear - Woman's husband shares her story of courage By Paul Tennant ptennant@eagletribune.com January 23, 2010 http://www.eagletribune.com/archivesearch/local_story_023002420.html HAVERHILL — Linda Fall has endured serious health problems for most of her life, but she always fought back with a combination of grit and kindness. But at age 60, her fight against the odds is almost over. She's dying and her doctors have told her there's no way they can save her. She had a heart transplant 17 years ago and gradually her body has rejected it, her husband Thomas Fall explained. Before she dies, however, she has a couple of things she wants to pass on to other peo- ple. First, she's at peace about leaving this life — she's not afraid of dying. Second, she urges that others facing death spend their last days in a hospice setting. Fall, a retired fifth-grade teacher from Chelmsford, expressed a desire to talk to The Eagle-Tribune about her thoughts and feelings, according to staff at Merrimack Valley Hospice. Yesterday, however, she did not feel well enough to be photographed and inter- viewed at the new Hospice House in Haverhill near the Plaistow line, so her husband of 33 years talked about they are facing the inevitable reality of death. Why did Linda want to speak very frankly and publicly about her death? Tom and Linda Fall "Linda and I have always given to the community," said Thomas Fall, 65, a retired Town Meeting printer. "People have to know about it (hospice). It is truly amazing the way they treat Representatives you." Precinct 7 It is also truly amazing the emotional strength his wife has demonstrated as she faces death, he said. What she lacked in physical health, she has more than made up for with her spirit, he said. "She's a fighter," he said. Linda Fall was diagnosed with diabetes at age 16 and it got worse over time. After seven heart attacks, she received the heart transplant — "definitely the gift of life," Thomas Fall said. She had many angioplasties and other cardiac procedures, he said. Yet she graduated summa cum laude from Fitch- burg State College and earned a paralegal certificate. The Falls are active members of the Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford, where they have taken turns heading the Outreach Committee. They have both served as town meeting representatives, first in Billerica, then in Chelmsford. "We're very active in politics," Thomas Fall said. They worked on creating Prescription Advantage, the program that helps elders and disabled people pay for their medi- cine. The Falls have always done everything they could together, he said. Thomas Fall said he and his wife are thankful for the care she has received at the Hospice House, which opened last year in a rural, wooded setting off North Avenue. With its polished wooden floors, comfortable stuffed chairs and queen- sized beds, the Hospice House looks more like a home than a hospital. "They treat you with respect," Thomas Fall added. For example, when Dr. Ariadne Mueller, the associate medical director, visits Linda Fall, the physician gives the patient a hug. Thomas Fall said a personal experience persuaded him that there's life after death — and it's better than the here-and- now. He was undergoing a cardiac procedure, he explained, when he passed out. He later learned he was clinically dead for about a minute and a half. "They revived me with the clappers," he said. Before he was resuscitated, however, he said he was in a very peaceful place. "It's hard to describe," he said. "It was kind of foggy." There were no tunnels, he added, referring to what others have described when they're close to dying. "I expect she's going to go to a better place,'' he said of his wife. "She'll meet loved ones and she'll be happy." "I am not afraid of death," he added. "Because of that experience I had, and we're very strong in our faith."
  • Accord hard to secure in Chelmsford Chelmsford officials no closer to pact on DPW, fire station By Prudence Brighton, Sun Correspondent http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14215250 01/18/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Despite three hours of debate Wednesday night, selectmen could not agree on any "next steps" to resolve the issues of the Central Fire Station and the DPW building on Richardson Road. The board met in a working session with the Permanent Town Building Committee, Deputy Fire Chief Michael Curran and DPW Director James Pearson to evaluate why town voters rejected plans to build two new facilities with an estimated combined price tag of $25 million. The board also considered a phased construction plan put forward by Town Manager Paul Cohen, the availability of a building on Alpha Road to house the DPW and public-safety issues related to the fire station. "They voted down the $12 (million) and $13 million projects," Selectmen Chairman Clare Jeannotte said, referring to voters' rejection of two override votes last year. "Given our choices, what is our next best alternative?" She framed the question in the context of a report questioning the structural safety of the fire station's floor and litigation from the North Chelmsford Water District over the impact the DPW facility might have on the water supply. Cohen's suggestion was to bring a $5 million DPW project to Town Meeting in April and a $4.5 million fire station later this year or next year. In phase one, the DPW project would include the $3.5 million purchase of the Alpha Road building and $1.5 million in renovations to make it suitable for the Highway Department and a few DPW operations. The Richardson Road facility would remain open until the second phase, which he estimated would begin in 2015. The Alpha Road building has been on the market for about 18 months, but now is being marketed more aggressively. It might not be available if the town delays action, he said. In phase one, the fire-station project would be one story with three bays, living space and some offices. An addition would be built in the second phase. In the event that the second-phase projects are rejected, "We'd still be in better shape than we are now," Cohen said. For Selectman Sean Scanlon, the issue was putting the DPW project to the voters first. "I'm worried about the safety of the men at the fire station," he said. Selectman George Dixon agreed that the fire station might be the top priority, but his concerns about the structural safety of the building had been somewhat allayed by hearing that the flooring would hold for another two or three years. Curran said that neither he nor Fire Chief Jack Parow could support a recommendation to spend between $600,000 and $1.2 million addressing structural issues with the floor of a building that is appraised at only $350,000 and does not meet the existing operational needs of the department. Jeannotte tried to get enough agreement from selectmen to ask the Permanent Town Building Committee to take the next 30 days to develop a scope of work for the DPW project with the intent of bringing it before Town Meeting in April. But she only had Dixon's support. Selectmen Eric Dahlberg and Pat Wojtas wanted more information.
  • $5M plan for DPW will go to voters By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_14269721 01/26/2010 CHELMSFORD -- A new Department of Public Works facility will have its second round at the polls after a unanimous vote by se- lectmen last night to send a scaled-down, $5 million proposal to the April election ballot. The decision -- three months after voters rejected a combined $25 million in municipal building projects -- was reached after selectmen listened to nearly a dozen Town Meeting representatives and others who argued that the cheaper proj- ect would prompt widespread town support. The first to address the board, Jon Kurland, a member of the Finance Committee and a candidate for selectman this year, said relocating the DPW to a larger building at 9 Alpha Road is an opportunity that, if not seized, would end up cre- ating a much larger burden on taxpayers in the future. He compared the financial consequences of holding off on the project to a vote in the 1960s that postponed the Chelms- ford sewer project. "We did not have the foresight to take advantage of the opportunity at the time," Kurland said. "Anyone paying $5,000 or $6,000 on their betterment fees now would wish otherwise." The Alpha Road building, formerly the Old Mother Hubbard dog-food plant, has been on the market for 18 months. Vot- ers rejected a proposal in October to relocate and upgrade the DPW's aging facility for $13 million. After the failed vote, town officials began working on a less expensive proposal. The result was a less expensive, 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 Department 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. Several people voiced concern that if the town delays action, the building will be sold to another buyer. This time, many pledged to get the word out. "I don't think we did a good job of explaining why this was good for the town," said Peggy Dunn, a Town Meeting repre- sentative and DPW proponent. "We let other groups spread lies and did not rebut. We did a bad job." Former Selectman Bill Dalton, who worked for the Chelmsford Fire Department for 25 years, said it was the selectmen's vote before October's election that "confused" voters. Initially, Selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte, Eric Dahlberg and Sean Scanlon voted against supporting a separate debt exclusion of about $12 million for a new Center Fire Station. Scanlon later changed his position on the issue due to public-safety concerns. The crumbling floor at the North Road fire station is being held up by wooden shores. The entire board, with the exception of Eric Dahlberg, voted in favor of relocating the DPW the first time around. Cohen said last night that the April 6 election date does not leave town officials enough time to convince voters that the scaled-down version of the fire-station proposal for about $4.5 million is the best bang for their dollar. But a new pro- posal for the fire station will return within the year, Cohen added. In the meantime, work is under way to secure weathered shores and other safety hazards at the station that were re- cently flagged by engineers. Those repairs will cost about $4,600, Cohen said. If passed by voters, the debt exclusion would increase taxes temporarily to cover payments for borrowed money. Taxes to pay for the loans decrease over time until the loans are paid off. Current debt exclusions include funds borrowed for school building projects and the town sewer project, and cost the typical single family about $460, which is included in its annual tax bill. That debt, Jeannotte said, continues to decline as those projects are paid off. Taking on the DPW project would result in a $21 increase to the average single-family tax bill in fiscal 2011. It would rise to $25 the next year and jump to $49 at its peak before falling again, Jeannotte said.
  • Talk of salary freeze returns Chelmsford plans for new fiscal year By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14229470 01/20/2010 CHELMSFORD — Another bleak budget year could put wage freezes back on the table for town employees. All union contracts are up for renegotiation this year. While the town waits for a clearer picture of its finances from the governor’s office, it’s likely that another round of one-year contracts could be in store, said Town Manager Paul Cohen. “Right now, we’re anticipating a 10 percent cut to local aid,” Cohen said. aid “That could possibly mean more layoffs.” layoffs. The Highway Department union set the bar last year, when union members refused to take a 2 percent wage increase and forfeited longevity and workers’ compensation pay to save the jobs of two men facing layoffs after midyear budget cuts. At that time, Cohen gave two unions the option of a temporary wage freeze to avoid cutting jobs, but only the Highway Department accepted, saving the town about $40,000. Two full-time maintenance and facilities workers were not as lucky, losing their jobs after their union voted against taking a pay cut. But as contract negotiations for fiscal 2010 got under way, nearly all the town’s unions inked a deal to stall raises for one year, with the exception of the Police Patrolmen’s Union and the teachers’ union, both of which are still working without contracts. John Kivlan, president of the firefighters’ union, said accepting a temporary wage freeze last year was a condition that firefighters had brought to the town. “We understood the economic situation of the town then, and we understand that times are still tough,” Kivlan said. “We’re feeling it just like everyone else. We look forward to sit - tough ting down with the town and finding something that works for both sides again.” again More layoffs this year, Cohen added, would hit school personnel hardest. Fifteen teaching positions were spared last year thanks to federal stimulus money, but the one-time funding was only enough to cover the cost of salaries for a year. As fixed costs, including health insurance, pen- sions and special-education tuition continue to rise, Chelmsford public schools are looking at cutting $2 mil- lion, which would result in “mostly people,” said Don Yeoman, superintendent of schools. people In 2009, budget cuts led to layoffs of 11 municipal workers and 45 school employees. Across the state, officials have been asking unions to make shared sacrifices as the taxpayers who pay their salaries continue to lose jobs and experience hardships. Last fall, three unions at the Middlesex Sher- iff’s Office agreed to take furloughs, saving the sheriff’s office $1.9 million and preventing layoffs. Cohen said he’s waiting for Gov. Deval Patrick to unveil his proposed budget on Jan. 27 to have a starting point, but projects a $1.4 million decrease in state aid overall. Cohen hopes legislators will give cities and towns more control over health insurance this year, which, he said, would save municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars. “It’s a tough time and it’s not limited to the people who work for the town,” Cohen said. town “It’s a tough time for all.” all.
  • State: Mobile homes can be taxed higher Ruling seen as victory for Chelmsford By Robert Mills, rmills@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14235040 01/21/2010 CHELMSFORD — The state’s Appellate Tax Board has ruled that Chelmsford assessed the Chelmsford Mobile Home Park too highly during 2008 and 2009, but not by nearly as much as the park’s owner contended. In what Town Manager Paul Cohen said is essentially a victory for Chelmsford, the Appellate Tax Board re- leased a ruling yesterday that the fair cash value of the park is $10 million. The town had assessed the park at $11.53 million, but the park’s owner, Carl DeCotis, had argued before the board that the park was worth only the roughly $3.8 million the town had assessed it at in previous years. Cohen said the ruling means the town will give DeCotis abatements of about $21,000 for 2008, and $24,000 for 2009. If the board had agreed with DeCotis, those abatements would have been in the neighborhood of $100,000. The assessments have drawn controversy since March 2008, when town Chief Assessor Frank Reen said the mo- bile homes in the park were being assessed because many of them had attached patios and decks, and some had foundations underneath them. “When mobile homes take on the characteristics of a permanent home, they become taxable property,” Reen said at the time. Before the Appellate Tax Board, though, Reen changed his story and said the assessment was based on the in- come that the land generates. Yesterday, Cohen said the income generated by the land is what drove the higher assessment, but admitted town officials had contradicted themselves. “Yes, there were contradictory statements by the town during the process, but the bottom line is that the town has always contended that the property was undervalued, and the board agreed,” Cohen said. DeCotis could not be reached for comment last night, and his attorney, Gregg Haladyna, did not return several messages. DeCotis has said the higher assessment, and the higher tax bill that came with it, forced him to raise rents at the park. Haladyna said in paperwork filed in the appeal that as rents get higher, “evictions for nonpayment of rent would likely follow, (forcing) many of the very class of persons, i.e. the elderly, disabled and or low-income earners that the comprehensive Manufactured House Act was designed to serve and protect … to leave the park.” Cohen disputed that, though, saying the market will dictate what DeCotis could charge for rent. “The market will dictate what rent is there, not what the town’s assessment is,” Cohen said. “What it, ulti- mately, is going to do is reduce his profit, but that’s not the town’s concern. Our concern is assessing at fair market value.” Cohen said it would be unfair for the town to undervalue the mobile-home park while assessing others in town at fair market value. It was not immediately clear if the decision can be appealed.
  • Officials: Trailer-park ruling won't domino By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14253954 01/23/2010 CHELMSFORD -- A higher tax for the owner of the Chelmsford Mobile Home Park won't have a ripple effect on other trailer parks across the state, officials say. Since March 2008, the legal battle between the town and trailer park owner Carl DeCotis was closely followed by mobile home parks statewide as the unusual case threatened to change the way homes on wheels were taxed. But Wednesday's ruling by the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board determined town assessors did not tax any mobile homes. Instead, the valuation of the property at 270 Littleton Road was based on the income that DeCotis generated from the land -- one of three approaches commonly used to assess land value. Although the tax board slashed the town's assessment of $11.53 million by about $1 million, the ruling was seen as a victory for the town since DeCotis argued his trailer park was only worth around the $3.8 million it was val- ued at before 2008. Ultimately, the tax board determined fair cash market value was about $10 million. DeCotis' attorney, Gregg Haladyna, said no decision had been made as to whether his client would appeal the tax board's decision. But Haladyna said DeCotis' appeal was based on the town's assertion that it was taxing mo- bile homes. "They (tax board) did lower the assessment by over $1 million, but they ignored the fact that the town changed its story," Haladyna said. "At first the town said it assessed property that was exempt, then they denied that and justified the original assessment by increasing the valuation of something else -- the land." Massachusetts law governing mobile homes considers trailers personal property, therefore exempting them from real property taxes. But DeCotis' land value shot up by more than $7 million in April 2008, with assessors saying at the time that they had assessed all of the park's 255 trailers at $30,000. Then, during court hearings, Chief Assessor Frank Reen changed his testimony, saying the assessment was based on the income the land generates. After reviewing the findings, the Appellate Tax Board ordered the town to grant DeCotis abatements of about $21,000 for 2008 and $24,000 for 2009. Despite the abatements, Reen said the ruling upheld the town's evaluation methods. "I probably did a poor job of explaining the process in the beginning," Reen said. "It's not easy information to convey. Ultimately, it was the rents that drove the valuation." The income approach to valuation is used to estimate the market value of income-producing properties such as office buildings, warehouses, apartment buildings and shopping centers. According to Richard Bowen, a lawyer representing Chelmsford, the town never argued that mobile homes should be taxed during trial. The town's testimony, Bowen said, was consistent with DeCotis' witnesses' testimony that DeCotis derives income from the rental of site pads on which the manufactured homes are parked. "Since it was undisputed that this property is an income-producing property, the Appellate Tax Board decided that the use of the income approach to valuation was proper, and consistent with the manner in which mobile park owners themselves value such properties for investment purposes," Bowen stated in a letter addressed to Chelmsford assessors. DeCotis, who was unable to be reached for comment, has said in the past that he had to pass the increased tax along to the park's residents, many of whom are on low or fixed incomes, by raising rents. Town Manager Paul Cohen said it's the rental market that dictates what DeCotis can charge for rent, not the town's assessment. The new valuation will most likely reduce DeCotis' profit, Cohen said, but that was not the town's concern. "Our concern is assessing at fair market value," Cohen said. "It would be unfair if the town undervalued the mo- bile home park but assessed everyone else at fair market value.
  • Chelmsford Zoning Board denies permit for home-based business http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14198886 By Ed Burns, Sun Correspondent 01/15/2010 CHELMSFORD -- A homeowner running a business from his garage may soon have to pack up his operation after the Zoning Board of Ap- peals voted last night to deny his application for a special permit for the business. The medical-equipment supply business run by Frank O'Brien of 12 Steadman St., has been operating since last February, but when neigh- bors noticed signs for an open house in October, the matter was brought to the attention of town officials. At issue is the scale of the operation, which exceeds the number of employees allowed for home businesses and the fact that the business routinely has customers visiting the site. "When you have clients coming and going and turning around in people's driveways, I don't know about that," said board member Joel Luna. "In my mind that goes beyond where the neighborhood would perceive what's going on." The board also decided that operating the business from the home is not a necessary condition for the type of operation, which is a condition for granting a special permit under the current bylaws. "I don't know if I can make a connection between a medical-supply business and a home," said board member Leni Richardson. "I can't sup- port it under these conditions." O'Brien's neighbors also came out unanimously against the business. One of the main causes of concern was the potential loss in home value in the neighborhood. One Steadman Street neighbor said he re- cently had his home appraised andwas told that with a permitted business on the street, his home could lose as much as $30,000 in value. "That's out of my pocket if I want to sell my house," he said. "We're essentially subsidizing his business growth." But O'Brien insisted his business is a good thing for the neighborhood, saying it keeps people employed and stimulates local businesses while having a minimal impact on traffic. "My view is, I have very little effect on traffic and I provide the area with a service," he told the board. "I would say things have worked out pretty well for the neighborhood." O'Brien's business employs his nephew, who also lives in the house, as well as two other full-time workers who must drive and park on the grounds each day. He felt that the impact was small enough that, with the special permit, the business would fully comply with all require- ments, despite the objections of neighbors. "My neighbors are reasonable people, and I take their complaints very seriously," he said. "I think it is right for the board to take into consider- ation their thoughts, but I think in the end, we ought to go by the bylaws." The board agreed but had a different interpretation of the bylaws regarding special permits for home businesses. In the end, they decided that the operation, even with a special permit, exceeds the capacity of a home business. They voted 4-1 to deny the special permit, the only vote against denial coming from Luna, who said he thought a permit with extra conditions may have been a fair solu- tion. Some of the residents of the town speak up about the full fledged business in a residentially zoned home. The ZBA decides on the zoning special permit of Featuring: EMIL HOULE,MARY TIANO & DANIELLE EVANS 12 Steadman Street. CLICK HERE TO WATCH CLICK HERE TO WATCH
  • Chelmsford ZBA nixes permit for Stedman Street business By Chloe Gotsis/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 15, 2010 http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x1409378468/Chelmsford-ZBA-nixes-permit-for-Steman-Street-business Chelmsford — A local business owner running a business from his garage in a suburban neighborhood is seeking commercial space for rent, after the Zoning Board of Appeals denied his special permit for his home business. Citing concerns over the volume of traffic Frank O’Brien’s medical testing business attracts to the Westlands neighborhood, a split board shot down O’Brien’s application for a special permit at its Jan. 14 meeting. “By the applicant’s own [account] he talks about 10 visitors a month,” said Len Richards. “That’s not allowed. I can not support it under those conditions.” Concerned Westland neighbors and residents from all over Chelmsford presented the board with a laundry list of concerns sur- rounding O’Brien’s business, O’Brien Compliance Management, operating from his home including a supposed $30,000 decrease in their property values and the intrusion of his customers in their neighborhood. “If your going to start bringing strangers into our neighborhood, I have a problem with that,” said Debby Dery, of 19 Stedman St. ZBA Chairman John Blake said typically home occupations allowed in the bylaw are intended to accommodate home offices, not businesses which attract customers like O’Brien’s. But O’Brien’s nephew, Matt O’Brien, who lives with him and is one of his four employees, said operating out of a garage is the only feasible option for OBCM. “We are four professional people trying to earn a living,” he said. “It’s a business that’s fairly new still. We can’t take on the over- head space yet. We aren’t quite there yet. That’s why we’re in a garage.” O’Brien , who moved to 12 Stedman St in February, is running a medical equipment testing business out of his garage and using some of his private home area including his dining room to meet with customers. Since moving to Chelmsford from Lowell, O’Brien ran his business out of his garage and home for eight months without a special permit, until advertising an open house which raised the concerns of neighbors. A group of concerned neighbors notified town offi- cials and in throughout October and November O’Brien was visited by Building Inspector Scott Hammond, who notified him he was not in compliance. Under the home occupation bylaw, O’Brien is only allowed one non-household employee and until October he was operating with two non-household employees. But O’Brien attempted to convince board members he wants to appease his neighbors and live in harmony in the Westlands. “I’m trying to keep this very simple,” he said, denying that granting his special permit will set precedence for other home busi- nesses. “I don’t want to cause a movement. I want my neighbors to stay together. I don’t want to cause a wedge.” Board member Joel Luna, who was the sole supporting vote for O’Brien, said his only problem with the business was the number of customers and he requested putting a condition in the permit limiting the number of customers. But board members felt it would be hard to monitor such conditions. O’Brien said he won’t likely appeal the board’s decision. “I gave it my all,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to layoff his two employees or go bankrupt. CLICK HERE To view the Westlands Watchdog’s Power point presentation
  • From the OBRIEN COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT’s website MANAGEMENT http://www.obcompman.com/news.htm 18 Jan 2010 OBCM Denied Home Occupation Permit; To Move to New Location The Chelmsford Zoning Board of Appeals denied Frank O'Brien's application for a Special Permit. The Variance application was withdrawn. Within the next few weeks OBCM will move into a temporary commercial space. Over the next 3 months, OBCM will move into a new permanent commercial location. "This places us on a commercial track sooner than we planned, " explains Frank O'Brien, the business owner, "but will allow for more flexibility." To the Westlands Watchdogs (both “official” and honorary), We want to extend our thanks to everyone who supported the Steadman St. effort in maintaining the spirit and intent of the home occupation bylaw which were challenged recently. Historically, we have been able to negotiate any issue with our neighbors (although we have been fortunate that these have been far and few between). However, opening the door to zone creep will never be negotiable. We greatly appreciated the solidarity of our immediate neighbors, the overall commit- ment of the Westlands neighborhood, and the infusion of support from across the community. Some people see Steadman St. as just a feeder road between 495/110 and Lowell. But for those of us who have called this street home for many years, it is a unique area of town rich in character and history, with a distinctive charm of its own. The spirit of grassroots activism, dedication to preserving the integrity of our neigh- borhoods, and commitment to fighting the good fight through civil discourse make us very proud to be part of this community. Sincerely, Ken and Dottie Skelley 14 Steadman Street
  • On The Border Land court rules on Aspen Court apartment proposal By Chloe Gotsis/staff writer GateHouse News Service http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/newsnow/x231959992/Land-court-rules-on-Aspen- Court-apartment-proposal Jan 27, 2010 Chelmsford — A state Land Court judge ruled on Tuesday in favor of a group of Chelmsford residents opposing construc- tion of a large affordable housing complex in Billerica, according to the plaintiff’s attorney. Attorney Dan Hill, who represented three Chelmsford residents in the land court appeal and about 50 resi- dents throughout the public hearings on Aspen Apartments, said the judge supported his motion for sum- mary of judgment. Hill filed the motion, arguing that Billerica’s Zoning Board of Appeals acted illegally by deferring judgment when it approved the final design of the 384 unit complex on Rangeway Road on June 30. “It’s a significant victory,” said Hill Wednesday afternoon. “It reaffirms what we’ve been saying all along that the ZBA was derelict.” Hill said the judge ordered the public hearing reopened after attorneys for both sides file a remand order, sending the case back to the ZBA. Hill said the Billerica zoning board rushed through public hearings. “It rushed in June of 2009 to close the hearing,” he said. “It should’ve kept the hearing open. But instead, it closed the hearing and issued a quick decision. There were a number of procedural irregularities.” Efforts to reach the Billerica board were unsuccessful. The development, proposed in December 2008, abuts Chelmsford and includes an emergency exit on State Street in Chelmsford. The development’s main entrance was slated to be a 35-foot driveway near Curriculum Associates on Rangeway Road in Billerica. Hill said the Billerica ZBA approved the 384 units, 288 fewer units than originally proposed by the applicant, K and K Developers, without seeing a final design plan for the scaled-down project. The approved plan was for eight buildings, down from the 14 buildings originally proposed. K and K Developers are currently appearing before Billerica’s Conservation Commission for a wetlands per- mit. The hearings before the Billerica Conservation Commission were continued at the request of the devel- oper, according to Hill. Hill said he will be monitoring the hearings in front of the commission. He said he expects the ZBA to wait to reopen its hearings until the Conservation Commission rules in. During public hearings, Billerica town officials and residents raised concerns with the level of traffic, sewer and drainage and cost the development would bring to the town. The application was filed under the state’s controversial affordable housing law, Chapter 40B, which allows new developments to bypass local planning and zoning laws if 25 percent of the project is deemed affordable according to income guidelines. Joshua Davis, attorney for K and K developers, could not be reached for immediate comment.
  • Fight on low-cost housing Developers pony up to defend state’s Ch. 40B law By Christine McConville Wednesday, January 27, 2010 http://www.bostonherald.com/business/real_estate/view.bg?articleid=1228525 Developers, lawyers and consultants are planning to spend as much as $1 million to snuff out a citi- zens’ effort to repeal the state’s affordable housing law. “I am appealing to your own economic self-interest,” housing consultant Robert Engler told his devel- oper clients in a Jan. 11 fund-rasing appeal obtained by the Herald. “There are thousands of folks who depend on residential growth for their livelihood, and all of us need to contribute.” In 2009, more than 100,000 voters signed a petition to remove the law, Chapter 40B, from the state’s books. If the Legislature does not approve the petition, residents will determine the law’s fate at the polls in November. Chapter 40B allows developers to bypass local zoning if they set aside at least 20 percent of their housing stock for low- and moderate-income housing. The law has been in effect for 40 years, but 40B developments really took off in the past decade. Ac- cording to the pro-40B Citizens Housing and Planning Association, or CHAPA, the law has helped create 56,000 housing units since the early 1970s. In recent years, 40B opposition groups have mobilized, saying the law allows unfettered development, but generates very little low-cost housing. “It’s a developers’ welfare program,” said John Belskis, leader of the statewide Coalition for the Repeal of 40B. The state’s inspector general and attorney general have accused two 40B developers of fraud, and others have been sued for misrepresenting profits. But CHAPA’s executive director, Aaron Gornstein, called 40B “the most important law” for creating af- fordable housing in the state. His association has contributed $100,000 to the Committee Against Re- pealing the Housing Law, a group that is working to keep the law alive. Belskis’ group is trying to raise money, too. Campaign finance documents show that the Chelmsford- based Slow Growth Initiative donated $283,000 worth of services when its members helped collect signatures for the petition.
  • WAR of the WOR LDS (Original news story CLICK HERE) Spe cial-interest groups work to sway elections The Lowell Sun http://www.lowellsun.com/letters/ci_14228922 01/20/2010 This letter is regarding the Coalition to Repeal 40B's ethics violation. This is very disconcerting and should serve as a wake-up call to all residents in the commonwealth on how a special interest group like the Slow Growth Initiative (SGI) and the Coalition to Repeal 40B (the Coalition) will try to manipulate voters in all municipalities and towns. The irony is the Coalition violated ethics law in an effort to personally attack and destroy a candidate's reputation to serve the Coalition's self-interest. Maybe now the coalition will consider extending an apology to the town of Chelmsford and the harmed candidate. Certainly going forward all voters should question the coalition and SGI's credibility, ethics, motives and comprehension of state law. Further, it is interesting to note the candidate endorsed by the Coalition to Repeal 40B now serves as the chairman of the Affordable Housing Production Plan Committee in Chelmsford. As we know, this is the committee that will balance Chelmsford's needs with the creation of affordable housing mandated by the Chapter 40B law. We would expect anyone serving on this committee, especially the chairman, believes the production of affordable housing in Chelmsford is necessary and serves a greater good. The Coalition and the SGI has made a mockery of Chelmsford's electoral process. They have maliciously disparaged a candidate and foolishly endorsed a candidate that is pro-40B development. In the future, the SGI and the Coalition to Repeal 40B should not try to influence voters of the commonwealth with mistruth, ignorant ideology and self-serving bias. Certainly the commonwealth is not a "better place to live" because of the special interest groups like SGI and the Coalition to Repeal 40B. DONALD VAN DYNE Chelmsford Editor's note: The Coalition to Repeal 40B issued mailings opposing Mr. Van Dyne's candidacy for Chelmsford selectman in the 2009 election. ************************ http://www.topix.net/forum/source/lowell-sun/T5PIFTDPL59U3CRBD LOWELL SUN Forums “Excerpts” ... John Belskis Wednesday The Secretary of State's office last month certified the signatures of 80,000 (of the 100,000 we collected) registered Massachusetts voters to place repeal of 40B on next November's State Ballot. So I guess that makes the score Repeal 40B 80,000, Don VanDyne 1 John Belskis Coalition for the Repeal of 40B --------------------------------------------------------------- Donald Van Dyne Wednesday John, Is that your attempt to apologize to the Town of Chelmsford? I guess we all can agree the Coalition and SGI is ethically bankrupt. John, is it true that you once believed REFORM is the answer? What happened to you? Was it the case you could not get any traction from the Legislature, so you now try to vilify all developers? Ironic how the Coalition and SGI have been recognized by the State for breaking the law, yet both organizations (special interest groups) will not accept responsibility for their actions.
  • A simple apology to Chelmsford would suffice. PS. Were the signatures you collected a grass roots effort or did you and SGI hire professionals? Word on the street is that you needed to hire professional guns. --------------------------------------------------------------- Slow Growth Initiative Wednesday Of the last 30 ballot initiatives passed in this state, nearly all of them used professional signature gatherers. Because Massachusetts has some of the strictest rules in the country for conducting such initiatives, and the shortest window for collecting nearly 100,000 signatures, professional signature gatherers are required. You wouldn't know that Mr. Van Dyne, as you have never tried to SUPPORT the will of the people, only to stomp it down so you can make a profit. Also, since you seem to care so much about the people, the coalition also used several hundred volunteers to gather the signatures. You were named as a participent in a land flip scheme, period. Maybe the investigation couldnt produce enough evidence to charge you with something. Maybe they didnt charge you because you agreed to payback the $17,000+ exccess profits you made. We will never know for sure. But that isn't what cost you the election. What cost you the election is the fact that you sir, develop 40B projects and support more 40B projects in Chelmsford. That is a fact. And residents of this community do not want a Selectmen who profits from ruin- ing the town. Sorry :-( --------------------------------------------------------------- Donald Van Dyne Wednesday In John’s absence I imagine the individual commenting from SGI can speak for him. Please confirm that John did believe that REFORM is the answer. I’m certain Tom Christiano can attest that John said so on his show. .........“You wouldn't know that Mr. Van Dyne, as you have never tried to SUPPORT the will of the people, only to stomp it down so you can make a profit”........ Please share with me and everyone the commitment you, the Coalition or SGI has shown to the redevelopment of either Town Hall in Chelms- ford. Have you given up your personal time, or made a financial contribution to either group? You are correct I do support the “REFORM” of 40B. The only time government should ever intervene in the free market is when there exists identified market failure and in the Commonwealth we do have market failure in the creation of affordable housing. You know this conversation would be much easier if you would identify yourself. Is that possible? Even better maybe we could initiate a televised debate regarding 40B. This would prove to be very informative for everyone. There would be no name calling or other digressions. We could simply share the facts. What do you think? --------------------------------------------------------------- Slow Growth Initiative Wednesday Also, it would appear that Mr. Van Dyne cannot read or understand state law himself. First, SGI has never been "recognized by the state for breaking the law". In fact, that accusation boarders on libelous. The fine was assessed to the Coalition to Repeal 40B and had nothing to do with SGI. Second, under Massachusetts state law, the Slow Growth Initiative can 100% be involved with elections, and support candidates that are in line with our cause. So your assertion that SGI broke state law is as ridiculous as your campaign assertion that you are not a developer be- cause you don’t “pound nails”. So before you speak to the morals of our group Mr. Van Dyne, I ask that you get your information correct. Don, each day I wake up and pray that we can have a televised debate. Please contact SGI through our website and we will set something up. Lastly, the developer lobby has successfully stopped legislative reform efforts. In the last 10 years, not only has their been no reform, but the regulations surrounding Chapter 40B have gotten worse. To say you favor reform, is to say you favor the status quo, because reform is simply not a real option. --------------------------------------------------------------- Donald Van Dyne Wednesday Who is SGI? Is it possible to identify yourself? If you agree we can make the necessary arrangements for a debate or maybe a series of debates. It would be best if we organized our de- bates in public view using this blog. This will ensure transparency.
  • In the meantime, could you please share with me the commitment SGI has made to creating something desirable for Chelmsford’s Town Halls? Do you consider the $200 commitment from Roland an earnest pledge that reflects SGI’s effort in saving these buildings from CHA’s af- fordable housing idea? I imagine SGI or Roland spent considerably more money paying professional signature hit men. I do not mean to digress; I just wish SGI would do more for Chelmsford than incessantly beat on elected and appointed officials. In future correspondence please provide your name so we can establish open and honest dialogue. Thanks. You are correct this is not about me. I’m not interested in winning or losing. It is about the merits and need for a law (any law) that facilitates the creation of affordable housing. I honestly believe, without a law, the market will not create the necessary housing for seniors, and other individuals that provide services in all communities across the Commonwealth. Further, if the law is repealed municipalities could be shouldered with a new law that could be more onerous. If it is the limited dividend that offends or concerns people let’s talk about how we can address that issue. I only use my name in this blog out of respect for others.Maybe next time I will post unanimously so we can stay on topic. Again, please accept my apologies in no way did I mean to offend your intelligence and lead you to think this is about me. --------------------------------------------------------------- FOR MORE FORUM FEEDBACK CLICK HERE --------------------------------------------------------------- The WAR of the WORDS continue ... This is a response to the letter from failed Selectman candidate Don Van Dyne regarding the fine levied against the Coalition to Repeal 40B. That letter serves only to prove that Van Dyne is as out of touch with Chelmsford now as he was during his campaign for Selectman. Interestingly, Van Dyne refers to the distribution of truthful information as “manipulation”. To those who continue to criticize our mailings without disproving a single fact contained within, the Slow Growth Initiative welcomes a public debate on the merits and costs of development at any time, on any stage. Van Dyne is just another town official who personally and directly profits from growth, and 40B growth in particular. Town Manager Paul Cohen, Phil Eliopoulos, Colleen Stansfield and many other high-profile Chelmsford officials push a growth agenda only to enrich themselves or to serve their own purposes. These people get together in Town Hall (go to Town Hall on any given day and you stand a good chance of seeing Van Dyne roaming the halls), decide how they can most help them- selves, then try to tell residents that’s what’s best. Well folks, the residents aren’t buying it. More Chelmsford residents have supported Slow Growth Initiative through individual donations and volunteerism, than in any other community in Massachusetts. And they continue to support a slow growth strategy for their town. The Slow Growth Initiative has exposed, and will continue to expose the self-serving strategies of the very vocal pro-growth minority. The April election will be another important chance to support those who oppose further growth and oppose building more 40Bs. Though many public officials pretend they don’t know the will of the people, the last few elections should have made the message clear. The residents of Chelmsford do not support Mr. Van Dyne’s agenda for growth. CRAIG CHEMALY Director Slow Growth Initiative
  • Planning Board hearing on North Road building gets heated Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 14.JAN.10 www.chelmsfordmassnews.com Decorum quickly dissipated at Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting as detractors of a North Road office building pro- posal continued to push for its rejection. High Street resident Stephen Currie urged the board to honor the intent of a preservation restriction his uncle, Rodger Currie, created to establish Center Park on the parcel. “How can the town benefit from this open space when there is a 15,490-square-foot building sitting on the property?” asked Stephen Currie. “If more people knew what was at stake, there’d be a zillion people here.” Epsilon Group, LLC wants to construct a two-story, 15,494-square-foot medical and law office building on land it owns behind the Center Fire Station. It believes the preservation restriction does not prevent development of the land. The developer needs four special permits before it can build the structure. Attorney Peter Lawlor, who represents abutter Mike Sargent, told the board although it may not have a lot of leeway in rejecting a site plan review that is not the case when it comes to special permits. “A special permit is akin to a variance,” said Lawlor. “With a special permit you have a world of power.” Lawlor presented the board with a traffic study that he believes showed deficiencies in the plan including on-site circula- tion and dead-end parking. Discussions slipped from conversation to shouting after resident Steve Olney clashed with Planning Board Chairman George Zaharoolis and Vice-chairman Ann McGuigan. Olney again argued the preservation restriction signed 30 years ago is clear in its intent – no building should ever be constructed on the site. “They say original intent does not matter,” said Olney. “This is going to be appealed and original intent does matter.” The board agreed to continue the public hearing until its next meeting Jan. 27. Tempers flare at the planning board CLICK HERE
  • New online crime mapping service now available Staff reports 21.JAN.10 www.chelmsfordmassnews.com Police Chief James Murphy announces that the Chelmsford Police Department has partnered with online crime mapping service, CrimeReports.com, in an effort to provide crime data and other information to the public. By going to www.crimereports.com,and clicking on Massachusetts and then Chelmsford, www.crimereports.com people can access and view police responses to locations throughout the town. Information can be searched by date, street location and crime type. Residents and others can also sign up to receive free “Crime Alerts” via e-mail for incidents and locations that they choose. Chief Murphy believes making this information available to the public can provide another av- enue to engage all citizens in crime prevention and community policing efforts. Chief Murphy is grateful to the Chelmsford Police Foundation, who covered all costs associ- ated with set up and participation in this endeavor. Without their support, this valuable commu- nity resource would not have been possible. Chief Murphy encourages residents and others to check out the site, and become more edu- cated and informed as to where police activity is taking place in town.
  • POLITICALLY INCORRECT ON THE AIR with Tom Christiano The panelists on the January 26, 2010 "Politically Incorrect" TV Show are(l to r) John Edward Janet Askenburg Tom Christiano Evelyn Thoren & Steve Roberts Topics included: School Committee candidates and CLICK HERE town elections, Mobile Home taxes, Permanant building com- F O R S H OW mittee, Old Town Hall renovation plans, DPW back on the ballot, Affordable Housing Plan, New Economic Develop- ment committee The panelists on the January 12, 2010 "Politically Incorrect" TV Show are (l to r) Elaine MacDonald, Nick DeSilvio, Tom Christiano, Roy Earley & Sheila Pichette. Topics included: Byam School Holiday gift shop lawsuit, Town elections, The In-Town Report, CLICK HERE State Senate Special Election F O R S H OW
  • Candidate for Re- Election to the School Committee Evelyn Thoren Being elected to the School Committee with the support of the voters in Chelmsford has been and contin- ues to be a rewarding and challenging opportunity for public service. I am grateful to the voters for the op- portunity to continue that service. My life has been committed to education because I believe that knowledge and understanding are the very foundation for living full lives and competing in today’s national and global economy. Many of you have told me that you share that belief and care as deeply as I do about education in Chelmsford. Twenty-nine years ago, my husband Glenn, my sons and I moved to Chelmsford, based on the excellent reputation of the schools, the quality of life, and the overall affordability of the town. Today, my three sons and their wives have homes of their own and are raising their families with the same concerns, values, and principles that Glenn and I had so many years ago. Two of our sons and all our grandchildren live in Chelmsford. They will attend Chelmsford Public Schools just like their dads. It is important for all of us that the school system re- mains excellent and competitive for this next generation. Over the past twenty years I have served on many school, town, and nonprofit committees to share insights, propose new ideas, provide leadership, learn more about the issues we face and solve problems for the community, the parents and our children. I have run my own business for twenty-five years, taught high school chemistry, tutored students, and taught courses for the Chelmsford Community Educa- tion Department and the Recreation Commission. I also had the honor of co-founding the Chelmsford Arts and Technology Education Fund that has delivered tens of thousands of dollars directly to teachers for the enrichment of our students. I have served twelve years as a school committee member and was recently elected as Division I Chair of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This organization works hard for better legislation and to acquire more funds for local communities and education. It is recognized by the legis- lature and connects directly to Beacon Hill. One of my primary goals over the last three years was to continue updating, reviewing and revising the Chelmsford School Committee Policy Manual. While this seems mundane, it is a very important task for a well run school system. The school committee sets policy. The school system educates the children guided by that policy. That is why I considered it so important. It must be clear, and it must be com- plete. When I was chairman of the school committee several years ago, I initiated subcommittee to update the policy manual. New policies were added for the management and use of the Performing Arts Center. Today, all the current policies have been successfully reviewed and re- vised. These actions have saved the town thousands of dollars in consulting fees paid by many other cities and towns to draft such poli- cies. Work on the policy manual must continue as we face new laws and tougher regulations from the state. A top goal in my next term in office will be to create new efficient and effective policies to address these new laws. Another goal was to see the successful completion of the $31 million secondary school building project. It succeeded and is an outstand- ing addition to the town and our schools. Today, we enjoy the Performing Arts Center and our students also have new libraries and class- rooms that were part of the successful project. It was exciting to see the completion of a twelve year effort of many dedicated volunteers and workers. My role in advocating for improved facilities and serving on the committees crossed the goal line. I look forward providing new ideas and to participating in the development of the next long range plan for future facility improvements, up- grades, and building proposals. Experience will count. Having a five year strategic plan that addresses not only our facilities needs, but also technology, curriculum, staff development, finances and special education is an important goal for me and the school committee to achieve in the near future. There have been great successes in our schools. Great pride can be seen in a long list of accomplishments in academics, sports, fine arts, education grants, and professional awards. Personally, there is no greater reward for a School Committee member than a simple “thank you” from students and the recognition of our staff achievements by local, state, and federal organizations. The long hours spent have paid off. Lobbying our state and federal legislators for adequate educational funding continues to be a priority for me. When I was elected by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees as the chairman of Division I, more focus and leverage was added to achieving these goals. There was more work to be done for our schools, but with a higher level of statewide visibility and recognition by the Massachusetts legislature. I have held MASC meetings to share valuable information on Special Education, ideas for cost savings measures, and other key issues with education and legislative leaders. The networking with other School Committee members and instant access to informa- tion from the State House is a valuable asset for Chelmsford. Over the last three years we have seen many changes in our administrative staff. A new superintendent and assistant superintendent were hired, and our administration was reorganized. We continue to streamline the system to work more efficiently. One of the most disap- pointing aspects that I have faced over the last three years is the decreasing funding available to maintain an excellent school system. The economy is struggling and everyone shares the challenge of less available dollars. There are tremendous challenges ahead as well. Yet, we have less and less money with more and more mandates from the government to achieve higher academic standing from our students. As we enter the next three years together, the School Committee must provide the dedication, leadership, and experience to maintain the excellence in education that Chelmsford expects. My personal goal is to serve the students, the parents, the taxpayers and the staff of the Chelmsford Schools and to achieve the excellence we all seek. I will also seek additional support from the state through MASC and our legislature to fund education in Chelmsford. That takes a significant commitment of time, preparation, leadership and experience. I will promise that. If anyone has any questions or comments, please contact me at ethoren@comcast.net or at 508-254-4240 or at my home 978-256-1482.
  • LOWELL SUN POLITICAL COLUMN Rita Savard 01/24/10 Could a post Christmas surprise be in store for the Chelmsford School Committee ? As candidates for the 2010 elections begin to emerge,the latest rumors has one of the two Kathys - the mothers who tried to put the holiday back in the Byam school holiday gift room - considering a run for one of the two available seats this year. Katheryn McMillian and Kathleen Cullen were both unable to be reached Friday to confirm or Photo by Tom Christiano deny the talk. As of noon Friday,incumbent Evelyn Thoren and Economic Development Committee member Janet Askenburg were still the only two contenders to have pulled nomination papers. But prospective candidates have until 5 p.m. Tuesday,Feb 16, to get those papers in. ****************************** Katheryn McMillian has told the In-Town Report that the story above is “ JUST A RUMOR! ”
  • To w n H a l l p r o j e c t s s e e k C o m m u n i t y P r e s e r va t i o n F u n d s www.chelmsfordmassnews.com Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 22.JAN.10 Officials received a first glimpse of renovation plans for the two town halls but no word on cost estimates at this week Community Preservation Fund Committee meeting. Although costs won’t be known for another couple of weeks, Town Manager Paul Cohen said the town would attempt to tap into community preservation money to cover the expenses. He acknowledges the tab would likely exceed the amount of funds currently available. “With the CPC,” said Cohen. “You can borrow against future earnings.” Homeowners pay a surcharge on their property tax bills, which is placed into Community Preservation Fund accounts that can be used for affordable housing, purchasing open space or historic restoration. Permanent Building Committee member Steve Roberts presented preliminary designs for the Chelmsford Center for the Arts – Town Hall on the Common – and the North Town Hall. At the Center for the Arts, plans call for an addition at the rear of the building to house a new stairway and elevator to serve the three levels. There will also be a new entrance into the building from the rear parking area. Work in the basement includes the addition of a small bathroom and a complete overhaul to the kitchen turning it into a catering kitchen. On the main floor, the existing bathrooms would be renovated and a second set of bathrooms added to the new addition near the elevator. The current stairway and chair lift near the side door would be removed, as would that side door and ramp leading to it. The doorway would be converted back into a window. Other work needed includes reinforcing the main floor for weight capacity, updating fire and sprinkler systems, as well as painting and cleaning of the building’s exterior, said Roberts. As for the top floor, which houses the stage, little work is anticipated other than adding stage lights. Phil Eliopoulos presented a request from the Center for the Arts for $20,000 to $25,000 toward theatrical lights. Chelmsford TeleMedia has already pledged a matching grant for the lights, said Eliopoulos. “The best asset of the property is the stage and hall,” said Eliopoulos. “And in order to make that hall really functional, it needs lights and sound equipment.” Community Preservation Fund Chairman Bob Morse said he would like to see the hall brought back for performances, but he wasn’t sure how lights could be categorized as an historic expense. “I feel this is a great part of the project,” said Morse. “My concern, as an individual item, it’s on the fringe. You can’t call it historical restoration, but as part of an overall project, I have no problem with it.” Eliopoulos expressed worries about incorporating the lighting into a larger request for both buildings. “My concern is if the community looks at a larger project and says, with this economy, they don’t want it,” said Eliopoulos. “As it is, the hall is not usable for a lot of events. I’d hate to tie the use of that hall to a larger project.” Most of that larger project includes a major renovation of the North Town Hall, said Roberts. “This building requires a lot of work,” said Roberts. “Because the building hasn’t been used for five years, it is being treated as a complete renovation. That requires everything being brought up to current codes.” Plans call for moving the first floor bathrooms from the front to the rear of the building. An elevator would be installed where the bathrooms are currently. The kitchen would be updated to make it a catering kitchen. And the rear staircase would be taken out. Roberts said all of the floors would have to be reinforced, which would require removing the coffered ceiling on the first floor. Putting that ceiling back would be costly, said Roberts. Other parts of the project include necessary foundation work in the rear of the structure and ripping off the vinyl siding. “There is a (preservation) restriction on the outside of the building,” said Linda Prescott, the Historical Commission representative on the Community Preservation Fund Committee. The preservation fund committee agreed to accept the application for funding for the town halls project as a legitimate use of Community Preservation Fund money. It also agreed to accept the theatrical lighting as a legitimate use.
  • On The Border Asphalt plant wins a round One environmental review waived in Westford; foes to fight By Prudence Brighton, Sun Correspondent http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14206600 01/16/2010 WESTFORD -- The Route 40 Clean Air Coalition has been denied its request for a "fail-safe" review of the air-quality permit granted by the state Department of Environmental Protection to the asphalt plant proposed for 540 Groton Road. But a group of North Chelmsford residents have been allowed to appeal the same permit granted by the DEP. And Chelmsford town officials may become involved in that appeal to the DEP. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. The Route 40 coalition challenged the air-quality permit under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), which is over- seen by the state's Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Two separate state agencies, both functioning under the EOEA, are involved in the appeals. The DEP granted a conditional air-quality permit last fall, but is allowing residents of Scotty Hollow in North Chelmsford to appeal. As a state agency, MEPA conducts reviews of the environmental impacts of development projects and other activities that require state approvals. "We're pleased, but not surprised," said Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesman for Newport Materials, which is proposing the asphalt plant. Experts working for Newport Materials have conducted extensive tests and modeling of environmental concerns. Because of that extensive testing, "We were confident of the outcome of the appeal," said Tranchemontagne. And Newport Materi- als is equally confident that the DEP decision "will stand" in the appeal by the Scotty Hollow residents. But the Route 40 Clean Air Coalition remains hopeful because the National Heritage Endangered Species Program (NHESP) must review the proposal and its impact. "It's our understanding that while MEPA denied our appeal, they also confirmed Newport is required to submit a new filing to NHESP to determine if their project will have a detrimental impact on protected species," said Alisa Nahkasian-Holsberg, a West- ford resident and member of the coalition. MEPA declined to review the DEP decision, however, because the modeling data presented did not exceed legal thresholds that would trigger a re-evaluation of the permit. An NHESP decision that protected species would be affected, however, would require a MEPA review. The North Chelmsford residents are appealing because the Scotty Hollow condominiums are among the nearest dwellings to the proposed plant, which is now before the Westford Planning Board for site-plan approval and a special permit. On Tuesday, the Chelmsford Board of Health heard from Scotty Hollow residents and from Nakashian-Holsberg. According to Selectman Eric Dahlberg, who was present at the meeting, the Board of Health was "implored" to support in the ap- peal. The Board of Health was interested, but hesitant without knowing whether it would be legal and whether they would have the support of town counsel. At Wednesday night's meeting of the selectmen, Town Manager Paul Cohen said that it would be legal and that town counsel would be available to the Board of Health. Selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte said that the DEP had received a six-page report from Air Quality Associates that raised questions about the data presented by Newport Materials. That report "made me feel -- and apparently the DEP feel -- that it is worth another look," said Jeannotte. Selectmen authorized Jeannotte, in consultation with Cohen, to take preliminary steps to support the appeal. A decision needs to be made by Tuesday because of the preliminary hearing is the next day. Jeannotte was authorized to make that decision on behalf of the board. Several months ago, Jeannotte attended a Westford Planning Board meeting to speak on behalf of her board. She delivered the news that selectmen voted unanimously to oppose the asphalt plant. Attorney John Giorgio, of the Kopleman and Paige law firm, acts as town counsel for both Westford and Chelmsford.Cohen raised the possibility of an eventual conflict. If the Westford Planning Board were to approve the asphalt plant and Chelmsford went to court to block it, Cohen said special counsel would probably be necessary. "But it's not even clear that this plant qualifies under Westford's zoning for light manufacturing," said Cohen. The Westford board could decide that it does not qualify and deny the permit. Jeannotte said she would like to see the North Chelmsford residents actively fundraising to support the appeal as the Route 40 Clean Air Coalition has raised funds to support its effort before the Westford Planning Board.
  • Safety concerns continue for asphalt plant By Conrad Hinckley/correspondent GateHouse News Service http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/newsnow/x1090822187/Safety-concerns-continue-for-asphalt-plant Jan 26, 2010 Chelmsford — Alisa Nakashian-Holsberg speaks for the Route 40 Coalition standing against Newport Materials, LLC’s proposed asphalt plant in Westford. “The Route 40 Coalition is a group of residents concerned about our health and community,” she said. At last Tuesday’s Planning Board Meeting, the Route 40 Coalition and the proponents of the plant squared off on safety data issues preceding what is billed to be a crucial hearing on Feb. 1 at the Stony Brook Auditorium. “Is all data ready for the next meeting?” Planning Board Chairman Mike Green asked members of the Board, Newport Materials representatives and attending residents. After receiving a positive response regarding the risk-assessment study, peer review and issues raised by the Route 40 coalition, Green asked if there were any other information needed. “What is the maximum number of tons [of asphalt] to be produced daily?” Nakashian-Holsberg asked. She cited concerns about the health impact of plant-generated smoke and dust produced by trucks moving to and from the proposed facility. “Why is there only a modeling report? How were the models done?” she asked. Newport Materials representatives responded that they were based on an “absolute worst case model. The Health Risk Assessment modeling was based upon maximum production 24/7. The permit states less.” Planning Board member Andrea Perraner-Sweet asked, “Have your experts talked to each other?” “That’s been happening all along,” said Newport Materials representatives. “Will our information and data submissions be shared with the Board of Health?” asked Nakashian-Holsberg. Green said, “Yes, always.” “The obvious goal is to distill down the differences and similarities between [the positions] of both sides,” Green said. He announced that there would be a time limit on all data presentations at the Stony Brook meeting. Newport Materials said they would need 30-40 minutes. Peraner-Sweet responded, “You wouldn’t get 20 min- utes in court!” “If you give us 20 minutes, we’re going to take 20 minutes,” said the Newport Materials attorney. Following the discussion, Nakashian-Holsberg told the Eagle that, although the coalition’s efforts were a chal- lenge, “the cooperation [we’ve received from government and the proposed Facility] has increased through the process.” Acknowledging the primary issues of public health and safety, she said that an additional concern is the estab- lishment of a precedent. “If an asphalt plant is allowed here, what other 'light' manufacturing will be allowed in Westford?” Her statement echoed that of Dennis Galvin who said that there is a need to define ‘light' manufacturing. “We need to think about that,” he said. The Route 40 residents “…weren’t initially opposing an asphalt plant. But as time has gone by and more information presented, we’ve become concerned about health and safety issues at the proposed plant,” said Nakashian-Holsberg. It has been a long and costly road for the Route 40 coalition in making its views heard and viable. Nakashian- Holdsberg said, “Experts are expensive.”
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  • Chelmsford WINTERFEST 2010 February 5 - 7 Schedule of Events Times and events are subject to change. If your organization has a change or cancellation, please contact Kathy Cryan-Hicks at kcryanhic@mvlc.org or 978-256-5521, ext. 109 Friday, February 5, 2010 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Friday Night Lights: Night Snow Shoeing at Russell Mill Forest Join The Chelmsford Open Space Stewards and New England Mountain Bike Assoc for a special edition of "Friday Night Lights". We meet at the main parking lot of Russell Mill Soccer Fields at 5:30 pm and explore the over 6 miles of snow- shoe trails on the 120 acres of town conservation land that stretches along Russell Mill Pond. Groups are broken up by ability from slow enjoyable walks to ones that will give even the best athletes a challenge. Hot Chocolate and light snacks will be waiting in the parking lot when groups return. You need to bring your own snowshoes and a night headlamp. Like all Chelmsford Open Space events, its is free and family friendly. 7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. - WinterFest Social at the Chelmsford Library: "Sweet Suspense and Lethal Libations" This annual WinterFest social is also the kick-off for One Book Chelmsford community reading campaign. This year the Library will present a Dessert Social; local restaurants and bakeries will provide delicious desserts. Harrington's Wines & Liquors will offer dessert wines for tastings. Beer and wine will also be available for purchase. Coffee, tea and soft drinks and light refreshments will be served. $10 per person donation. Note: Those purchasing advance tickets at the Library can also check out early-bird copies of the 2010 One Book title, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Central Co-Op Nursery School Pancake Breakfast and Silent Auction This annual breakfast will be held at the Central Congregational Church at 1 Worthen Street. Come one and all for great pancakes, eggs, bacon and lots more! 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Winter Rest at First Parish Church The Chelmsford Friends of Music will host The Chameleons and the UU School of Rock will also perform. Soup, sand- wiches, desserts and beverages will be sold. Activities for young children such as face painting and crafts. Warm up at this annual retreat, fortify yourself from the cold and satisfy yourself with hot drinks, food and live music and lots of fun! 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Outdoor Activities at Roberts Field Ice Skating, Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing and hot refreshments sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 77. 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Outdoor Activities at Varney Playground Snow Painting, Storytelling, Lollipop Dig, Snow Games and Sledding for all ages including a Toddler Sledding Hill. Cook- ies and Hot Chocolate will be available for purchase. Sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Varney Playground and the VPRC, Inc. The Radio Disney Rock and Road show will be on site 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. with tons of music, games, and prizes Free Pears for everyone provided by USA Pears.
  • 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Malt Shop at Central Baptist Church Take a break from the outdoor festivities with this beloved annual tradition at Chelmsford’s Winter Fest. The Pink Ladies Malt Shop will run from 11:00AM to 2:00PM on February 6 at the Central Baptist Church, 9 Academy Street, in Chelms- ford, MA. Get ready for the return of poodle skirts, hula hoops, and doo-wop! The tasty menu will include grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream sundaes, frappes, and root beer floats. Retro games and trivia will keep all the cus- tomers entertained as the Girl Scouts from Chelmsford Troop 215 dish up service with a smile! Sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 215. 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Chelmsford Cultural Council's Photo Exhibit at the CCA at Center Town Hall View the entries to the Chelmsford Cultural Council's annual photography contest. To submit an entry, visit the Council's webpage at ChelmsfordCulturalCouncil.com and download an application. (Deadline for submissions: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010.) 12 noon - 5:00 p.m. - Chowder Fest and lots more at the Senior Center Come out of the cold and enjoy some hot, delicious food, entertainment and great FAMILY FUN! For Sale: Home-made chowders, hot dogs & pizza, apple crisp, ice-cream, baked goods and candy! Free entertainment: Hula Dancing (12 noon), Irish Step Dancers (12:30), Mary Crowe Cabaret Show (1pm), Indian Hill Jazz Ensemble (1:30) Dan Clark the “Singing Trooper” (2:30) All Together Family Chorus (3 pm), Academy of Performing Arts Dancers (3:30). Free Games and Prizes: balloon darts, ring toss, bean bag toss, win a fish, free balloons, face painting, and a very special appear- ance from a balloon twisting artist (1-2:30). Donations for all activities are appreciated! 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Art Reception at the Chelmsford Library Enjoy the Library's February Art Exhibit by artists from "The Breakfast Club." Music and refreshments. 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. - Just Move, "FOR THE HEALTH OF IT" at the Senior Center A WinterFest evening of Music, Dance and Zumba! Celebrate WinterFest with music, dancing, and a Zumba demonstra- tion. The Come Back Kids will start the evening off by playing old time favorites from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Then, learn why Zumba has become the newest exercise craze. Come and join the party at 8:30pm with Planet Dance instructor, and learn a lively Zumba routine while we switch out the bands. At 9:00 pm, enjoy lively musical entertainment from Joe's Attic. Light refreshments will include munchies and a cash bar serving beer, wine and soda. The cost is $10.00 per per- son. For tickets, contact the Town Manager's Office, jparziale@townofchelmsford.us, 978-250-5201 or the Human Serv- ices Director, Diana Ryder, dryder@townofchelmsford.us, 978-251-0533. Sunday, February 7, 2010 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Outdoor Activities at Roberts Field: Ice Skating, Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing at Roberts Field. Boy Scout Troop 77 will be serving up hot refresh- ments 12 noon - 1:15 p.m. - Snow Shoeing at the Lime Quarry Sponsored by the Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship and the Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust. The Lime Quarry Snow Shoe trail is 1.5 miles long and designed for the sport (lots of ups and downs). Bring your own Snow Shoes and a smile. If no snow, we will offer a winter walk at the site. For information on The Quarry and The Stewardship visit www.theChelmsfordian.com. 1:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m. - Free Public Skate at the Chelmsford Forum The Chelmsford Forum is located at 2 Brick Kiln Road, North Billerica, MA. 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Winter Nature Walk The Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust will be sponsoring a Winter Nature Walk at the Archer Meadowbrook Reserva- tion at the dead end on Fenwick Drive (off Route 4). At the end of the walk there will be a bonfire and s'mores at Skunk Island. Bring all the children you can find! Organizers respectfully request that you leave your dog at home. WinterFest Events Map CLICK HERE to View Chelmsford Winterfest 2010 Google map Times and events are subject to change. If your organization has a change or cancellation, please contact Kathy Cryan-Hicks at kcryanhic@mvlc.org or 978-256-5521, ext. 109
  • NEW POLITICAL DISCUSSION SHOW STARTING IN CHELMSFORD Tom Golden will be the first guest on the new Cable TV Show entitled POLITICAL JUNKIES. This is a new 30 minute, on-on-one interview show hosted by Tom Christiano, who also hosts the long running political discussion cable TV show entitled POLITICALLY INCORRECT. This new POLITICAL JUNKIES Show will allow for more in depth interviews with our State and Local politicians and leaders, since each guest will be given a full 30 minutes to express their views on the issues of the day. The first POLITICAL JUNKIES Show, with State Representative Tom Golden as the guest, will be taped in Chelmsford on March 2nd. The second show will feature State Representative Jim Arciero. The third show guest will be a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Jon Golnik (running for the seat currently held by Niki Tsongas). The 4th show will feature Republican State Senate candidate and Chelmsford Selectman Eric Dahlberg, along with his wife Suzanne Dahlberg. We hope you can catch some of these upcoming political discussion shows to find out what each of these political leaders thinks about the important issues of the day. POLITICAL JUNKIES with Tom Christiano
  • Submitted by Paige Impink - http://www.billericapowerplant.org Does your car have an environmental license plate? Support the Massachusetts Environmental Trust's Land and Water Conservation with a "Land and Water" Specialty License Plate http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/der/newsletters/ebbflow2.htm#support reserve your new plate http://www.masslandandwater.info/reserve.html with this form http://www.masslandandwater.info/printpopup.html NOTE: the additional fee for the license plate is tax deductible. Development near our lakes, ponds, rivers and coasts - and the fertilizer, storm water run-off and other non-point source pollution it brings - is the greatest single threat to Massachusetts waters. In response, the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) has launched a new “Land and Water Conservation” license plate initiative that will support the conservation of land critical to the protection of the Commonwealth’s water re- sources. Similar plates in other states have conserved tens of thousands of acres in re- cent years. This new tool for land conservation is needed here now more than ever. Proceeds from the new Land and Water Conservation license plate will be segregated in a separate fund dedicated to the acquisition, stewardship and restoration of land affect- ing 9,000 miles of streams and rivers, 1,100 lakes and ponds and over 1,500 miles of coastline. NOTE: Due to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)s’ policy regarding specialty license plates, the new MET “Land and Water” plate will not become reality unless and until at least 3,000 people sign up for the plates. You are therefore strongly encouraged to reserve your new plate http://www.masslandandwater.info/reserve.html by sending in a check for $40 payable to Mas- sachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles along with this form http://www.masslandandwater.info/printpopup.html to: Massachusetts Environmental Trust Land & Water Plate, 100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02114. Once 3,000 checks are received, the MET will forward the checks to the RMV, and then you will be contacted to let you know what else is needed to finish the process of getting your new “Land and Water” specialty license plate. Showyour support for Massachu- setts land and water conservation by purchasing a Land and Water Plate! Click here or call the MET at (617) 626 -1045 for more info.
  • Submitted by Jon Kurland Dear Friends, January, 2010 I am running for the Board of Selectmen to offer sound financial experience, common sense, and decisiveness to the voters. Too often lately political pressures have slowed the board from moving forward, recognizing and acting on the challenges facing Chelmsford. We must meet those challenges with courage and decisions that benefit the whole town. We need to lower costs and still improve the “quality of life” in Chelmsford for the future. And we need to do this even when we run the risk of annoying certain special interests and politically well-connected groups in town. We need leadership, experience, and a commitment to community service. Please join me and many of your friends on Bring your friends. We have very serious financial challenges ahead. I want to share ideas, meet you and to talk to you. If you can’t come to the reception but can contribute in other ways with finances or time, please fill out the form accompanying this letter and place it in the envelope. Checks should be made out to “Jon Kurland for Selectman Committee” A stamped envelope is also in this letter. Please call me with any questions or advice at 978-250-0631 or e-mail me at either jon@kurland.com or jonk7499@yahoo.com Like many (if not all) cities and towns in Massachusetts, Chelmsford is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. My experience on the Fi- nance Committee will help me to help the “beleaguered taxpayer” as the town navigates through our current economic crisis. I will follow these principles when making decisions for you and for Chelmsford. 1. Is it in the best long-term interest of the town? 2. Will it save Chelmsford taxpayers money? and….. 3. Does it make “common sense”? • We will address today's challenges. • We cannot be stuck with “no action” because decisions are difficult. • We cannot continue to “kick the can down the road” so that it becomes someone else's problem in the future. • We cannot ignore reasonable opportunities for improving our town. You hear promises every year an election rolls around. Then what do you see? I have a different answer. “Hold me accountable.” If elected, I will listen to all sides before making a decision. But I will make decisions with a full and complete explanation to you the voter. You will not hear the broken-record excuse of “I need more information. Let’s have another meeting.” I will do my best to inspire others to share that vision for a better Chelmsford with their own ideas. We can make Chelmsford the envy of other towns and cities when we work together as a community to improve our town. Take the long view, save money, use common sense, be decisive, listen, serve the voters, be held accountable; that’s what I believe in and that’s what you will get if you vote for Jon Kurland. I need your help to do this and I greatly appreciate your support in this campaign. I know that I will be “working for you.” I won’t let you down. Best Regards, Jon H. Kurland 17 Mansfield Drive Chelmsford, MA 01824 Phone: 978-250-0631 E-mail: jon@kurland.com or jonk7499@yahoo.com
  • The following notice is from Joanne Stanway. The Chelmsford Open Space Stewards do so much for our town's open spaces, using only $200 a year of town funding. It's really amazing when you think about it. Could you imagine what our town would look like if the Open Space Stewards have not been doing all of this volunteer work all these years? Here's your chance to have a great time and a dinner and entertainment....all for only $25.00.....with about $20.00 of that going to the the Open Space Stewards funding (which they need for gas, supplies, etc.) Please come to this event on March 5th if you can. You can even roast and make fun of me too if you like...anything for a good cause like this. :-) Thank you, Tom Christiano ************************** For four years, the Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship Program has helped to maintain about 900 acres of open space land in town, with volunteers donating more than 20,000 hours of their time maintaining trails, building foot bridges and kiosks, creating our community garden, beautifying the town, rallying local organizations and businesses, and much more. They do this all with an annual budget of $200 plus generous donations. On Friday, March 5th, please join me at the first fundraiser for COSS - the theme will be a roast of COSS founder and lead steward Phil Stanway in celebration of his 50th birthday, but it's also about all of the volunteers in the program. It's a night of fun entertainment, brief information about the program, as well as music and dinner at the beautiful new Chelmsford Elks. The goal is to raise money to ensure the stewards have the resources they need to continue what they're doing. The event will take place from 6 - 10 p.m and tickets are $25 each ($20 of which will go directly to COSS). To order tickets, please contact Joanne Stanway at 978-273-1473 or jstanway@comcast.net. I hear there are some funny gags planned, so please plan to attend to support this wor- thy local cause, if not just to have a fun night out right here in Chelmsford Joanne Stanway
  • Hi, I am organizing this year's Earth Fair in Chelmsford on Saturday May 8th from 12 - 3 pm on the town common. I'm looking for not only eco-friendly businesses and crafters to come, but I also looking for local artists & musicians to come as well (to set up a table). I'm trying to get more people to come this year so that this won't be the last Earth Fair for a while. If there is anyway that you could help me with either gathering presenters or help me with advertising, I would be very grateful. Thank you, Kristy Medina ikat4monet@hotmail.com 978-250-6818
  • QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A FELINE SCORNED CLICK HERE
  • In-Town Report NEWS LINKS Lowell Sun Chelmsford Independent Kevin Zimmerman’s Chelmsford Mass News Lawrence Eagle Tribune 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 ROY EARLEY TOM CHRISTIANO Town Meeting Representative Precinct 6 Town Meeting Representative Precinct 9