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by Tom Christiano
The extreme heat and humidity couldn't keep the people ...
Chelmsford hikes taxes on meals, hotel rooms                                           Chelmsford Town Meeting OKs
Can Eliopoulos build on land
                          behind fire station?
" The idea that the land was taken out from under us is just not accurate ,"
said Town Manager Paul Cohen.
" When I approa...
Selectmen vote to change status of Master Plan Committee
                                  By Kevin Zimmerman/ ...
C a n d i d a t e o n t h e gr i l l e
B y To m C h r i s t i a n o

Matt Hanson kicked off his 2010
Selectmen Campaign wi...
When questioned about the post, Dahlberg said "stay tuned."

"I was flattered to think that people have that much confiden...
                                               Tom Christiano
Jon Kurland
                                   Selectmen candidate for 2010

                                   I am runni...
Special Town Meeting took the necessary action of adopting local options Hotel and meals taxes.
An additional tax of ¾ of ...
by Tom Christiano

The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT) had it's long awaited Grand
Opening o...
Congratulations to everyone... especially all those
who helped make this day a reality! The time has
come to celebrate...t...
                                                      School business manager says he'll retire...

Tom Christiano
September 4, 2009

I was first alerted to the problems at Varney
Park ...
The following letter was written to our town leaders by Brian Carey, a Chelmsford resident living at 50 Gay Street.

As a ...
Billboards are sign of future
                                        By Rita Savard,

  BOS, FinComm and School Committee to discuss insurance options
New 40B Proposal in the "WESTLANDS”
                               " WESTLANDS PLACE "
Re-Zoning Chelmsford Street ?

Building up more businesses in the Westlands??

Could the day come when there will be no mo...
Hi Roy,

Thought you might be interested in this story and possibly having this included in your next in-town report as I ...
Seeking more info on the subject I contacted George Zaharoolis Planning Board Chairman

Roy i...
One of these areas was the Route 110 (Chelmsford St.) corridor from Route 495 to Route 3.
This presentation identified the...
My comment on “it is going to happen” simply means that change is inevitable. Sooner or later, based
upon a premier locati...
The Trials and Tribulations of Aggrevate. err, I mean Aggregate
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
In-Town Report  09-04-09
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In-Town Report 09-04-09


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Attached is the latest IN TOWN REPORT, as prepared and edited by Roy Earley, a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct Six. Thank you Roy, for doing such an outstanding job with this IN TOWN REPORT. It contains a great deal of information about current issues facing our town, and many video links to local TV shows and meetings, all contained in one convenient publication. This IN TOWN REPORT should be useful to anyone interested in the town of Chelmsford.
In this issue of the IN TOWN REPORT the focus is primarily on the following:


Thanks go out to everyone who volunteers to help keep Chelmsford one of the best communities in the State!

Tom Christiano
Town Meeting Representative
Precinct 9

Thurs 7:00 AM; Sundays 11:00 AM Chelmsford Cable TV Channel 8

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In-Town Report 09-04-09

  1. 1. BIG TURNOUT AT COMMUNITY GARDEN OFFICIAL OPENING by Tom Christiano The extreme heat and humidity couldn't keep the people away from the official opening of the Walter F. lewis Community Garden on Saturday, August 15th. A big crowd turned out to officially usher in a new era of home grown vegetables right here in Chelmsford. Of course, we've had home gardens in the past, but now you can plant them right next to your neighbor's plot....and not just one neighbor....many neighbors... all sharing the land, water and joys of growing their own food. The grand opening celebration started with a foot parade following Phil Jones and his "speedy" tractor. Phil and his wife have been huge supporters of the Community Garden and instrumental in its success. Phil said a few heartfelt words about Walter F. Lewis, the previous owner of this property off of Robin Hill Road and a very close friend of Mr. Jones. Many members of the Lewis family were present for the dedication. You can see them in the photos accompanying this article. They are gathered to the right of the principal speakers and our Town Manger Paul Cohen. Mr. Cohen started the formal ceremony with a long list of well deserved thank yous to the many people who have helped make this day possible. There are too many to list here, however, their work is very much appreciated by every person who enjoys the community gardens. The speakers at the Opening Celebration were as follows: Paul Cohen - Town Manager Clare Jeannotte - Chairman of the Board of Selectmen & gardener Bob Morse - Community Preservation Committee member Eric Dahlberg - Selectmen & gardener Phil Jones - of Jones Farm & Community Garden Manager Phil Stanway - Lead Steward, Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship A Community Garden Handpainted Sign was unveiled at the ceremony, along with a granite bench (inscribed with the Walter F. Lewis name). The ribbon was cut by a Lewis family grandson, and the gates were opened...for all to enjoy... not only on this wonderful opening day, but for many years into the future...there will be gardening, right here in our own "community" of Chelmsford. Photos by Tom Christiano
  2. 2. Chelmsford hikes taxes on meals, hotel rooms Chelmsford Town Meeting OKs By Rita Savard, new fire station, DPW move 08/18/2009 By Rita Savard, 08/18/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Battered by cuts to local aid, Chelmsford voters last night saw some relief by hiking taxes on the town's restaurant CHELMSFORD -- Special Town Meeting last night overwhelmingly meals and hotel rooms. approved spending $25 million to build a new fire headquarters and An overwhelming majority at Special Town Meeting approved a upgrade the Department of Public Works. 0.75 percent tax increase on meals and raised the local rooms tax Ultimately, Town Meeting members said a bad economy was on their side to from 4 percent to 6 percent. The new taxes will go into effect Oct. 1. help bring a big cost savings to two major building projects. The move is expected to pump an estimated $290,000 back into Voters approved building a new fire station for about $12 million at town coffers after steep cutbacks in state aid. After chewing on the Chelmsford and Wilson streets, the site of softball fields, and to issue for about an hour last night, those in favor said that given the move the DPW from Richardson Road to the former Old Mother cuts, the taxes were better than having nothing at all. Hubbard dog-food plant on Alpha Road, off Route 129, at a cost of "Wouldn't it be nice if all the taxes we paid to the state came back about $13 million. to Chelmsford?" asked Glenn Thoren. "Now we have one small in- With Town Meeting approval, both projects will now be placed on a stance where it all stays here. I like taxes where all the money special election ballot in October to give all the town's registered vot- stays in the town." ers a chance to weigh in. To Read The Whole story CLICK HERE To Read The Whole Story CLICK HERE DPW, Fire Dept. must get word out By Rita Savard, 08/19/2009 CHELMSFORD -- An economic slump didn't prevent Special Town Meeting from sending $25 million in building projects to the election bal- lot. But as the dust still settles from Monday night's meeting, some representatives aren't sure the $12 million fire station and $13 million De- partment of Public Works will survive a town-wide vote. "To pass an override or an exemption is a tremendous amount of work," said Dennis Ready of Precinct 8. "It takes a full-court press, and I don't know if the Fire Department and the DPW have the resources to put on that kind of group effort." An overwhelming majority of Town Meeting representatives agreed to place the big-ticket proposals on a special election ballot in October. One plan calls for a new 27,041 square-foot Fire Department headquarters on the corner of Chelmsford and Wilson streets, which would re- place the 3,500 square-foot building that's been located on North Road since 1952. The second proposal seeks to relocate DPW to the Old Mother Hubbard dog food plant on Alpha Road, where its multimillion-dollar vehicles would be stored indoors to prolong use. While many Town Meeting representatives agreed that both facilities need major work, some say the timing might not be right. "Before I voted, I talked to a lot of my neighbors about their feelings on these projects," said Debbie Dery of Precinct 6. "A lot of people are still out of work, jobs are scarce, and there is no assurance of when it's going to get better. Personally, I don't think the timing is right, but my vote was about letting the town have a voice on the issue." Others were concerned about what abutters have to say. Ann McGuigan of Precinct 1 asked town officials what the elderly residents at McFarland Manor, which would overlook a new fire station, had to say. No one could answer. But many Town Meeting representatives taking up the microphone on Monday felt the proposals were the most cost- effective way to address the outdated and inadequate facilities. When explaining why she supported spending the money to relocate DPW, Selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte said the study commit- tee charged with researching alternatives for both facilities "hit a home run finding this opportunity." Jeannotte does not support the fire-station proposal, saying she didn't think the size and location of the building was the best plan. Town Manager Paul Cohen said Chelmsford needs a center fire station equipped to handle the needs of the town's size today, as well as into the future. When the station was originally built in 1952, it was built with about 9,400 people in mind. Nearly 60 years and about 24,000 more people later, the station's floor is caving in, parking is inadequate and the headquarters lacks training and storage space. If the town loses the Alpha Road site to relocate the DPW, "Plan B is $20 million more because we'd have to build a new facility," Cohen said. The poor economy, he added, also puts the town in a unique position to save money on some of the lowest construction costs and loan in- terest rates seen in years. Both projects would increase the average single-family tax bill by about $76.50 at its highest rate, which Cohen estimates will be in 2014. After that, the amount would continue to decline until 2020, when the debt service is expected to return to its current level. "Taking on any debt like this is huge in this economy," Dery added. "I did not approve of the projects, but I do approve putting them on the ballot." A date for the special election will be determined by the Board of Selectmen.
  3. 3. Can Eliopoulos build on land behind fire station? Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 21.AUG.09 Zimmerman/ Michael Eliopoulos purchased roughly 2.2 acres at 11 North Road after the Planning Board endorsed an Approval Not Required proposal to split the land into two parcels. On May 27, Hancock Associates, on behalf of Eastern Bank, presented the board with the ANR to subdivide the North Road property and create a lot line between the bank building and Emerson House. According to the board’s meeting minutes, “the purpose is to create a lot for a possible future use.” As reported elsewhere, Eliopoulos wants to construct a 10,000-square-foot office building on the site, but some question whether he can. A phone call to Eliopoulos’ son Phil, a former member of the Board of Selectmen, was not returned. No one denies there is a preservation restriction on the property, but no one seems to be able say what it means. “It was brought to the Planning Board’s attention,” said Community Development Director Evan Belansky. “But it’s not clear at this point if the covenant prevents development.” On Dec. 11, 1979, the then Board of Selectmen, William Murphy, Joe Shanahan, John Carson, Arnold Lovering and Paul Hart, signed and accepted the preservation restriction. The restriction includes references to the Emerson House and to future development on the land. As written the covenant states, the Emerson House must be restored and “shall remain as a typical example of postcolonial architecture.” It also includes wording about future development. “No other building shall be erected on said premises expect barn-like structures and silo which shall generally present the exterior appearance of farm buildings and barns. “No other building shall be erected on said premises so as to raise the total area on all floors of buildings, exist- ing and new, to exceed the equivalent of 20 percent of the land area of the premises. “No other buildings or paved area shall be constructed so as to raise the total ground coverage by buildings and paving to exceed 55 percent of the land area of the premises. “The exterior appearance of any structure to be erected on the premises, except the Homestead structure already existing, may be of such design and construction as to permit the use of said structures for residential purposes, and for other purposes permitted by the zoning bylaws of the Town of Chelmsford, except retailing, fast food es- tablishment, or motor vehicle sales, rental, repairs or service.” Joe Shanahan, who signed the original acceptance of the preservation restriction, believes it was the selectmen’s intent to leave the parcel with the pond undeveloped. “In 1979,” said Shanahan, “nobody expected two barn-like structures.” ************************************ Historic Chelmsford home being restored By Rita Savard , 08/21/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Plans to restore the historic Emerson house and construct a new office building are under way on a 2-acre parcel behind the Center Fire Station. Eastern Bank, which owned the land at 11 North Road, sold it for $480,000 to Epsilon LLC managed by Michael Eliopoulos in June. But the land acquisition came as a surprise to some Town Meeting representa - tives last Monday when they discovered during Special Town Meeting that one alternative for a new Center Fire Station was crossed off the list.
  4. 4. " The idea that the land was taken out from under us is just not accurate ," said Town Manager Paul Cohen. " When I approached the bank about the property, they said they were in other negotiations for the land already ." In March, Cohen contacted an Eastern Bank representative about a possible land purchase. At that time, the bank said it was having an appraisal done on the property and that Eastern planned to keep an easement for its drive-through lane. The bank also mentioned it had other buyers interested. Cohen thought that if a prospective buyer was just interested in restoring the Emerson house, that maybe the bank could subdivide the parcel, leaving the town with the slice behind the fire station. But the bank contacted Cohen later in March and said " they did not want to subdivide the property and had a deal in place. " Former Selectman Phil Eliopoulos said his father, Michael, had approached previous land owners MassBank several years earlier to purchase the same property. MassBank wasn’t interested in selling, Eliopoulos said. When Michael Eliopoulos learned that Eastern Bank was taking over MassBank, he approached the new land owner in 2008, Phil Eliopoulos said. Eastern Bank was willing to sell. Historical preservation of the property is a requirement of ownership. The Eliopouloses have already begun restoring the slate shingle roof and rotted wood siding on the historic house, as well as making other repairs. Eliopoulos said his family is also interested in constructing a Colonial-style building, approximately 10,000 square feet, to house the law offices of Philip and Angelique Eliopoulos. The building plans are currently be - fore the town's Historic Commission, and must be filled with the Planning Board for review and approval. Although the land behind Center fire station was an alternative suggested by the study committee, Cohen said "t here would have been significant challenges to make it viable as a fire station compared to the Wilson Street site. " Those challenges include limited frontage, and less space for vehicles to get in and out of the site, he said. " It was also never seen as a less costly situation ," Cohen added. " A block away you have a site with better access and better response times. " Town Meeting Representative Tom Fall said he would have liked to see a new fire headquarters at its current North Road site. " Am I disappointed? " asked Fall. "Y eah. It's a nice piece of property and I'd like the fire station to stay there. But, being what it is, I voted for the fire station (on Wilson Street) because I felt we needed a new one. The big, important issue is that we need another fire station. "
  5. 5. FLASHBACK: Selectmen vote to change status of Master Plan Committee By Kevin Zimmerman/ Chelmsford Independent Staff Writer May 28, 2009 CHELMSFORD - By a 3-to-2 vote, the Board of Selectmen agreed former Select- man Phil Eliopoulos could remain on the Master Plan Committee and represent Philip Eliopoulos clients before other town boards. Selectmen opted to make each member of the Master Plan Committee a special municipal employee, which exempts an individual from regular conflict-of-interest rules. The board made its decision at an un-televised work session on May 14. Board of Selectmen Chairman Clare Jeannotte along with members Sean Scanlon and Eric Dahlberg voted for the change. Selectmen Pat Wojtas and George Dixon voted against it. “It is something that should be done sparingly,” said Wojtas. “I didn’t see a need in this situation to do that.” Town Moderator Dennis McHugh and each of the Sewer Commission members are the only other appointed or elected officials deemed special municipal employees. For Dahlberg, that fact made the decision an easy one. “Other towns do it,” said Dahlberg. “And we have precedent here in town.” Both Dahlberg and Scanlon stressed they believe as a member of the Master Plan Committee, Eliopoulos would not create developments, but rather play a role in shaping how the town deals with proposed projects. “The Master Plan Committee is about giving a strategic vision for the community going forward,” said Scanlon. “If he has a (development) client I don’t see it as a conflict. It would be different if he was on the Planning Board.” According to Jeannotte, it was Eliopoulos who made an informal request with the State Ethics Commission about his situation. “I wasn’t sure it was necessary, but I wanted to protect myself,” said Eliopoulos. myself During his 12 years on the Board of Selectmen, clients often requested Eliopoulos represent them before another board, and each time, he referred those clients to another attorney, he said. Eliopoulos doesn’t see his role as a member of the Master Plan Committee causing a conflict if he should appear before another town board. “On the Master Plan Committee, we don’t take votes; we don’t do any zoning changes,” said Eliopoulos. “We make recommendations for the town for the next 10 years. That master plan then gets approved by the Planning Board and by the Board of Selectmen.” Under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 268A, Section 17, as long as an individual is recognized as a spe- cial municipal employee that person may represent a third party before other town boards. “This section shall not prevent a present or former special municipal employee from aiding or assisting another person for compensation in the performance of work under a contract with or for the benefit of the city or town; provided, that the head of the special municipal employee’s department or agency has certified in writing that the interest of the city or town requires such aid or assistance and the certification has been filed with the clerk of the city or town,” reads the statute. After receiving the request from Eliopoulos, Jeannotte said she wanted more information from town counsel be- fore scheduling a vote on the matter. She asked if it mattered whether the individual was on a formal committee or an ad hoc one. Jeannotte also in- quired whether the special municipal employee label was used frequently in other communities. In the end, she was satisfied with counsel’s answers, she said. “You have talented people who may want to get involved with the town and they may not if it cuts into their livelihood,” said Jeannotte.
  6. 6. C a n d i d a t e o n t h e gr i l l e B y To m C h r i s t i a n o Matt Hanson kicked off his 2010 Selectmen Campaign with a BBQ party at his home on Saturday, August 15th. Attending the event were: State Representatives Jim Arciero and Sean Garballey (from Arlington), many Town Meeting Representatives, and quite a few of Matt's friends and neighbors. Everyone seemed to have a great time at the party. Matt Hanson will continue his Selectman Campaign with an Jim A rciero Matt Hanson and Sean Garballey appearance on Tom Christiano's P O L I T I C A L LY I N C O R R E C T Cable TV show on Tu e s d ay, S e p t e m b e r 8 t h , along with Mary Frantz, Steve Roberts and Matt Sheehan. The two Selectmen seats which will be voted on next April are those currently held by Se- lectmen Clare Jeannotte and Pat Wojtas. Neither of those Selectmen has, as of this date, publicly declared if they are running for re- election to a second term on the Board. Ms. Wojtas is scheduled to be on Tom’s POLITICALLY INCORRECT show on October 20th, and she is expected to make her intentions know at that time. ************************************************** The Lowell Sun Political Column by Rita Savard ELECTION FEVER is already talking hold in Chelmsford with Matt Hanson, 21, planning another Hanson run for the Board of Selectmen in 2010, when selectmen Clare Jeannotte and Pat Wojtas's seats Wojtas both go up for grabs. Hanson, who lost a bid for the board last year, seems determined to snare a seat. Sources also tell The Column that Finance Committee member Jon Kurland is planning to throw his hat into the ring, while Town Meeting representative Maria Karafelis is said to be eyeing one of two School Committee seats now held by Evelyn Thoren and Kevin Porter.Porter ************************************************** Does official have eyes for Beacon Hill? By Rita Savard, 08/25/2009 CHELMSFORD -- A first-term selectman has his eye on the 3rd Middlesex District senate seat. Although Republican Eric Dahlberg said he hasn't decided whether to challenge Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, in 2010, a post on the online social networking-site Facebook calls for help in drafting the Chelmsford selectman to run for state senator.
  7. 7. When questioned about the post, Dahlberg said "stay tuned." "I was flattered to think that people have that much confidence in me," said Dahlberg, who is currently serving his second year of a three-year term on the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen. "I love public service, and I think I could do a good job representing the people of the district, but I haven't made a final decision yet." Dahlberg says friends that want him to run against Fargo posted the message that states "it's time to send a fighter for the taxpayers to Beacon Hill." The ad also states that Dahlberg would bring the same priorities to the Massachusetts Senate that he's brought to the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen, including "improving the business climate, striv- ing to keep taxes low, working to keep government efficient and effective, and always remembering who's the boss -- the taxpayers!" Eric Dahlberg New to local politics, Dahlberg beat Selectman Sam Chase in 2008 after launching a grass-roots campaign where he spent weeks going door-to- door, asking for votes. He was also the anti-override candidate, beating Chase, who supported the failed $2.8 million override, by about 986 votes. During his first year on the board, Dahlberg was criticized by some for not speaking up about the issues. But in recent months, Dahlberg has been a vocal opponent of local options taxes, two multimillion-dollar town building projects and skyrocketing health-insurance rates. "I'm not one of those people that just talks for the sake of talking," Dahlberg said. "I think we have a lot of politicians who love the sound of their own voice. I'm not one of them." Dahlberg describes himself as a moderate Republican, who's pro-choice and supports gay mar- riage. He has a bachelor's in history from Dartmouth College and a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Dahlberg works at the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector in Boston. Fargo was first elected to the Senate in 1997. She defeated Republican Sandi Martinez last year to serve her sixth term. Fargo also serves as chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, and as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight said. Fargo has said the strength of her record is the key factor in winning her sixth term. The 3rd Middlesex District is made up of nine communities, including Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Waltham and Weston. ********************************************************************** ********************************************************************** On Facebook : Draft Eric Dahlberg to Run for State Senator! **************************************************
  8. 8. THE SELECTMEN RACE HEATS UP Tom Christiano September 4, 2009 The election won't take place until April 6th, yet we already have a lot of activity in the Selectmen race. There are two Selectman positions coming up for a vote in seat held by the current Chairman of the Board, Clare Jeannotte...and the second seat is held by the Vice-Chairmen of the Board, Pat Wojtas. Matt Hanson announced his intentions, in July, to run again for a seat on the BOS. He'll be on my POLITICALLY INCORRECT (P.I.) TV Show on September 8th to talk about why he's run- ning for a second time in two years and what his plans and goals are if he wins a seat on the Board in April. Matt graduated from UMASS Lowell this past summer....and is currently studying for his Master's degree there as he works as an intern with one of our State Representatives, Jim Arciero. Matt is a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct five and a member of the Town Hall Utilization Study Committee here in Chelmsford. In last year's race for Selectman, the 20 year old candidate received 955 votes to place 4th in a field of six candidates. Jon Kurland is announcing his intentions to run for a seat on the Board of Selectman at this time. He has written the reasons for his run elsewhere in this IN TOWN REPORT, and he'll be on my P.I. Show for a few minutes on September 8th to discuss his rationale for running. He'll be on the P.I. show for the full hour on November 3rd, along with Selectwoman Clare Jeannotte and two other panelists. Jon is a long time member of the Finance Committee and a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct five. His detailed background information and rationale for running can be found elsewhere in this IN TOWN REPORT. Selectwoman Vice- Chair Pat Wojtas has not, as yet, announced her intentions as to whether she is run- ning for another term on the Board. She is scheduled to do so when she appears on my show on October 20th. Pat may also let us know if she's running before that date. Pat is serving in her first term on the Board of Selectmen, and serves the town in many other capacities as well, in addition to being a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct five. Selectwoman Chair Clare Jeannotte also has not, as yet, announced her intentions as to whether she is running for another term on the Board. She is scheduled to be on my November 3rd P.I. Show, along with Jon Kurland. Clare may also let us know if she's running before that date. Clare is serving in her first term on the Board of Selectmen, and serves the town in many other capacities as well, in addition to being a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct seven. There may be other Selectman candidates this year. Roy Earley and I will do our best to keep you informed at to who they are...why they're running...and what their goals are if elected. I will be hosting my 14th annual Selectmen Debate on the P.I. Show in late February.... shortly after the nomination papers are due into the town clerk's office.
  9. 9. Jon Kurland Selectmen candidate for 2010 I am running for Selectman to put experienced leadership back Jon Kurland on the Board, which, in my opinion, has all too often bowed to the political pressures of special interest groups instead of providing the vision and leadership that is necessary to recognize the challenges facing Chelmsford . True leadership is having the courage to meet those challenges in a way that benefits the whole town from cost and quality of life standpoints in the long run, even when doing so runs the risk of annoying certain special interest and politically well-connected groups in town. For two years the DPW/Fire committee composed of qualified citizens and subject matter experts studied our current DPW/Fire service delivery models and determined that our DPW and Central Fire station facilities are in dire need of replacement. We have known since 1987 about the structural problems with the fire station yet nothing has been done to permenantly address the problem. I believe that the time to act is now, when construction and money costs are low and construction companies are hungry. Every year we wait will add 4-6% to project costs, and when we are finally compelled to act, we will have to accept a band-aid rather than a permanent fix, because to do otherwise will be too costly. The fact that three of the members of the Board of Selectmen voted against this plan shows that they lack the vision to recognize the pressing needs of the community or the courage to take on the politically well-connected groups. I possess the foresight and, as a result of my seven years on the Finance Committee, the experience to appreciate that when there is a depressed economy needed projects can be completed at great savings to the town. By the same token, now is the time to build a new DPW facility. After a thorough review of all loca- tions, the committee found that buying a vacant building with adjoining land on Alpha Road will reduce the cost of a DPW facility from $31,000,000 to $13,000,000. Following this recommendation will save the town even more money on the operations side because housing our DPW equipment indoors (equipment is currently stored in the open) will add at least five years to the life of the equipment as well as save labor costs. DPW employees freed from the maintenance labor associated with outside equipment storage will now have more time to provide direct services such as road maintenance and snow removal. Despite the comprehensive nature of the committee's study and recommendations, one Board member voted to oppose the DPW plan that would save the town $18,000,000 for a project that is long overdue, because, as he said, “This is a great project, but now is not the time.” When will there ever be a better time from cost and labor availability standpoints? The Finance Committee voted to support both projects recognizing that significant savings will re- sult by financing projects when interest rates and the cost of labor and materials are at historical lows. Fortunately for the town, Town Meeting Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of both projects. The way that bonding would be structured ensures that there would be no property tax increases until 2013 at which time taxes would increase an average of $76 per year for two (2) years before dropping down to this year's level and falling every year thereafter. By addressing these issues now, we reduce the cost and solve two longstanding challenges cost-effectively. It is now up to voters to decide whether to approve the debt exclusion so that these projects may proceed. I don’t want to be looking back five years from now, when we are forced to address these critical needs, to a time when we could have made a permanent fix at a fraction of the future cost. Chelmsford has too many past examples of this “penny-wise, pound foolish” type thinking that have added millions to our long term-capital budgets.
  10. 10. Special Town Meeting took the necessary action of adopting local options Hotel and meals taxes. An additional tax of ¾ of 1% will be added to a Chelmsford restaurant bill. Seventy-Five Cents on a $100 bill, and all seventy-five cents stays right in Chelmsford . Hotel patrons will have to pay an additional 2% when they lodge in Chelmsford . Three of the five members of the current Board endorsed and lobbied the state to give the town the ability to adopt these local tax options. One member ran for election in 2008 declaring his support for, and agreement with, enacting these local option taxes. Yet when it came time to support enactment, he and two others voted against their adoption. Clearly some Board members are guided by short-term political considerations when it comes time to act. Fortunately, Town Meeting Reps endorsed the Finance Committee’s recommendation and voted to approve these taxes which will generate enough revenue to prevent the loss of 4 teachers, a policeman and a firefighter. I spoke with Chief Parow who confirmed that based upon current staffing levels, the loss of a firefighter would have resulted in the closing of another fire station (South Station is already closed indefinitely). It is never popular to raise taxes. But sometimes you have to act in the best long-term interest of the town, even if it means that your prospects for re-election are harmed. The first thing that state Legislators ask towns who come to them for additional funds is, “what have you done locally to improve your revenue picture?” The fact that the Town took this proactive action to help itself will go a long way in helping us to get more state aid. Opposing the adoption of the local tax option went against the Board’s own prior efforts, and clearly indicates, in my opinion, that certain members cannot stand up to the political pressures of those who would do nothing to preserve Chelmsford’s modest service standards and quality of life. Some Selectmen refuse to address today's challenges. Leadership is not kicking the can down the road so that it becomes someone else's problem in the future. Our future is now and we must take advantage of all reasonable opportunities before they are lost forever. Any town official who uses the polls to determine his/her position is not a leader but a follower. If elected, I will listen to all sides before making a decision. Leaders must demonstrate vision and courage to do what is in the best interests of the town in the long run. Sometimes the majority is not right. I have been on the Finance Committee for 7 years and Chairman for 2 of those years. I was the President of the Lowell Rotary Club in 1992-1993. I have served as Chairman of the Board of Merrimack Valley Goodwill Industries for three years and was the 1992 Volunteer of the Year. I am a founding member of the Greater Lowell Alzheimer Association which later became part of the Eastern Massachusetts Alzheimer Association. I served on the Board of Directors on the Greater Lowell YMCA. I have over 30 years experience as a practicing Attorney, and have success- fully established and run the law firm of Kurland and Grossman, P.C. since July, 1979. I believe that every municipal board of selectmen benefits from having an attorney as one of its members. None of the current Board members is an attorney. If elected, in addition to the above, I would push for additional savings in medical insurance costs for the town. If we participated in the state GIC program we could save around $1,000,000. While I understand the concerns of the unions, particularly as the plan provides for retirees' perscription benefits, we need to do something to control spirilling medical insurance costs. By way of disclosure, my wife recently retired after many years of service as a guidance counselor in the Chelmsford Public Schools, so we would be among those affected by any changes. We have the ability to assure that Chelmsford will continue to remain an outstanding community but we must change the course. Otherwise we could be like many other towns that merely maintain the status quo and do not strive for excellence. Jon H. Kurland
  11. 11. Gift Fund will help support biking, walking endeavors in Chelmsford By J. Michael Garvin Tue Aug 18, 2009 CHELMSFORD - The Chelmsford Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is pleased to announce an exciting new way for Chelmsford residents, business owners, or any other group or individual, to make a difference in promoting improvements to make our town more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. A BPAC Gift Fund has been established by Town Manager Paul Cohen. This fund will allow the town to implement impor- tant measures to advance the goals of improving walking or bicycling mobility and safety in and around town, increasing the ability for people to frequent retail and dining establishments or recreational sites – all at a time when the town has no room in its existing budget for these improvements. BPAC is a nine-member committee, appointed by the town manager, meeting once a month to discuss bicycle and pedes- trian issues in Chelmsford. We will be making recommendations to the town about what projects should be funded from the BPAC Gift Fund account. Once a recommendation is approved by the town manager, the project can be paid for out of funds in the account. Any donations will be deposited with the town treasurer, and the town accountant will track the fund’s receipts. Typical projects to be recommended may include installation of bike racks along town streets in retail areas, new bike route or pedestrian crossing signage at critical locations, or upgrading of traffic signals to include audible pedestrian sig- nals for assisting vision impaired pedestrians. Bike racks of the style BPAC has recommended for town streets could cost several hundred dollars for the material and installation, for example. The establishment of this Gift Fund allows these projects to be funded through the generosity of those in town who share our vision of creating a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly community for its residents and businesses. If you would like to make a difference by making a donation, please make your check payable to “Town of Chelmsford,” put “Bike/Pedestrian Improvements” on the memo line, and send to: Town of Chelmsford 50 Billerica Road Chelmsford, MA 01824 Attn: Town Manager’s Office, BPAC Gift Fund If you are interested in making a contribution of your time, we have one vacancy on our committee. Please contact the town manager’s office or visit the town Web site for information on applying for this position. Please see the BPAC Web page for additional information. J. Michael Garvin is the vice chairman of the Chelmsford Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He can be contacted at
  12. 12. THE RAIL TRAIL GRAND OPENING by Tom Christiano The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT) had it's long awaited Grand Opening on Saturday, August 29, 2009! There were hundreds of people packed into the Old Town Hall in Chelmsford to celebrate the opening of the BFRT. Many town and state leaders were there, along with hundreds of rail trail supporters. The photos I took at this joyous occasion are shown nearby in this "In Town Report."
  13. 13. Congratulations to everyone... especially all those who helped make this day a reality! The time has come to celebrate...then bike ride...or walk...or ski...or rollerblade...or just get out there and exercise in any way you can. A few of the rail trail rules of use are as follows: *The Trail is open from dawn until dusk * Stop at all road crossings * Stay on the right side of the trail, with no more than two (2) abreast, including dogs * Switch to single file in heavy traffic * Call out to warn when passing (a small bike bell may prove useful for this) * State Law requires children 16 & younger to wear a helmet while biking * Helmets are strongly encouraged for all bike riders & rollerbladers * No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail * All dogs must be on a leash and in control at all times. You must clean up after your dog. For further information about the trail, please visit:
  14. 14. School business manager says he'll retire this year Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 31.AUG.09 Zimmerman Classes won't begin until tomorrow, but the Chelmsford school system already faces its first va- cancy. Business Manager Robert Cruickshank informed school officials he plans to retire in February 2010. "That's what he tells me," said Superintendent Donald Yeoman. "But he's told me that before. We're going to wait a few weeks and see if he's on the level." If Cruickshank follows through with his retirement this time, school officials will begin to craft a list of job requirements for his replacement, said Yeo- man. "We'll be setting the criteria soon," said Yeoman. Yeoman expects to put together a brochure listing the requirements for the next business manager. He will then advertise the position and conduct in- terviews before recommending a candidate to the School Committee. The committee is expected to have Cruickshank's replacement in place in February rather than finish out the year without a business manager. "You can't do that," said Yeoman. Chelmsford superintendent ready for opening day By Stephanie Seeliger/correspondent Chelmsford Independent Fri Aug 28, 2009 CHELMSFORD - Each morning around sunrise, Don Yeoman, the superintendent of Chelmsford schools, runs two to four miles. Originally from Illinois, the educator of 40 years has always had a passion for running. During the back-to-school season, this is just the prelude to what can stretch into a 14-hour workday. This summer has been a busy time for Yeoman, who is going into his third year as Chelmsford’s superin- tendent. In an effort to become more energy efficient, the school has worked on the plumbing to eliminate the use of two hot water heaters. The McCarthy Middle School’s gymnasium had its floor refinished for the first time in over 50 years. Also, a ceiling collapsed at the high school in the end of July. The repairs cost the schools $30,000. The ceiling will be repaired for the first day of classes. Budgeting is always a huge concern for the school system, and one that weighs on Yeoman’s mind. “Let’s say 5 or 10 years ago, there were many more dollars to replace text books on time. We had dollars to hire the kinds of staff we needed,” he said. The tight budget had Yeoman pushing for the local option meals and room occupancy taxes to go through at the special Town Meeting. These taxes are expected to bring in $200,000 for the schools. Without it, he was concerned that he will not be able to offer the staffing and pro- grams that students need to succeed. “Because we’ve been cutting back, cutting back, we’re only going to have 12 new [teachers] instead of 50 or 60,” he said. “This year we had to make cuts mainly at the high school. Let’s say the English department offered 24 sections of one subject, maybe it’s down to 15, so there are fewer options for kids and class sizes will go up because of that.” The meals tax and room occupancy tax passed at the Aug. 17 Town Meeting. In addition, some federal stimulus money coming in will go to- ward bringing back staff members, buying textbooks, and training the staff. The first days By 7:19 a.m., when high school classes convene, Yeoman has already gone to as many schools as he can to visit with principals, custodians, cooks and others. Next he returns to his office to make sure that the busses are running smoothly. This is a big concern during the first few weeks of classes. Next, he must work out the kinks in the student roster. He has found that challenges can spring up unexpectedly at the beginning of the year. “Last year we had 50 kids come in that we didn’t expect. Then the kids that came in over the summer, are they enrolled appropriately in the right classes and the right schools?” he said. After answering calls and e-mails and holding a daily cabinet meeting, it is supposed to be time for lunch. “So now it’s noon or after and so often we don’t get lunch because there’s too much to do,” he said. “But if we can, I grab my raisins and nuts and [Assistand Superintendent] Frank [Tiano] grabs an apple and sandwich and we go down for 15 minutes, and we eat and try not to talk about work.” As late as 8:30 p.m., Yeoman has finally finished visiting schools, answering questions and returning phone calls. He makes it a point to be visible and accessible to the schools’ principals in case they need to address an issue. He has found that being Chelmsford’s superintendent is a lot like being the folk legend Johnny Appleseed. “He planted apple trees all over the Midwest and he never lived to see all of those trees,” he said. “We’re not going to live to see the lives of all of these kids when they grow up, and how they provide for their families and their communities. You plant the seeds. You water the plant. You encourage, you care for, you coach people, and you know things are going to be better whether or not you are going to be there. It’s really exciting.”
  15. 15. VARNEY PARK PROBLEMS & POTENTIAL Tom Christiano September 4, 2009 I was first alerted to the problems at Varney Park when I watched the last Board of Selectmen meeting in August. Matt Sheehan & Karen Dussourd spoke during the Open Session period and let the community know what has been going on up there at the Park. I was shocked to hear about the improper lan- guage and behavior of some of the park visi- tors. I therefore gave Matt Sheehan a call and asked if I could see the Park myself to assess the situation and to take photos and write an article for this IN TOWN REPORT. A few of the photos I took at the Park on August 28th are shown in this report. I was given a detailed, two hour tour of the park by Matt Sheehan, and was accompanied on the tour by Selectman George Dixon, by Selectman candidate Matt Hanson, and by the hardwork- ing Varney Park Volunteer, Santiago Rios. Overall, the Park is a wonderful asset to the town. The huge Freeman Lake is beautiful. There is a small beach area, with rest rooms and a snack shop located in an old cinder block building on a small hill nearby. The volunteer constructed playground is very large and well built. While we were there I could see many children playing there and having a great time. The large ballfield is another extraordinary feature of the park. It is named after a very generous donor to the Park, Mr. Ayottte. Matt Sheehan, Santiago Rios, and many of the other nearby residents have been working very hard to improve the Park and keep it safe for everyone to use, from dawn till dusk. Unfortunately, as detailed in the letters which are copied, in part, below, there are some significant problems which the town needs to address. The IN TOWN REPORT will keep you up- dated about the status of Varney Park as we go forward in time. Matt Sheehan will be a panelist on my political dis - cussion cable TV show on Tuesday, September 8th, along with Matt Hanson, Mary Frantz and Steve Roberts . That show will air on channel 8 for two weeks. One of our discssion topics will be Varney Park . Photos by Tom Christiano
  16. 16. The following letter was written to our town leaders by Brian Carey, a Chelmsford resident living at 50 Gay Street. As a resident of Chelmsford and more particularly living in the Varney Park Neighborhood I have become increasingly concerned with many of the goings-on at Varney Park and the beach. As someone who frequents the baseball field, playground and beach I have found the state of these facilities at time reprehensible. I have witnessed used condoms, soiled diapers, hot coals from grills, half empty wine/liquor/beer bottles and cans on the beach, in the woods and in the playground on several occasions. In addition, many cigarette butts littering the grounds throughout the Varney Park complex. Although, the many volunteers of Varney Park clean these things up on a regular basis it is disheartening that they must do this on a regular basis. I have taken my children (ages 11, 9 and 2) to the park on many occasions and wit- nessed people smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and being vulgar in their actions and language. I have approached many people partaking in this behavior and been told on several occasions to "F-Off". This type of behavior in a public park used by families and children is completely unacceptable. Finally, many of the people frequenting the park and beach are not Chelmsford residents and in many cases appear to be potential gang members. I fear the reluctance by our town authorities to take strong action with these many problems has served to embolden the perpetrators and will eventually lead to an escalation of these problems. God forbid something unspeakable happens to a child using the park or family using the park and or beach. I understand the resources available to our police force are limited during these tough financial times. However, an in- creased police presence at Varney Park with occasional foot patrols of police officers through the park and beach would help reduce and hopefully eliminate the problems. I hope these actions by the many good volunteers who work to maintain Varney Park will not go unsupported by our town officials. Sincerely, Brian Carey The following letter was written to our town leaders by Karen Dussourd, a Chelmsford resident living at 16 Washington Street. In June when I went to visit the park with my 2 children and 2 of my neighbors a young boy about 15 years old ap- proached my neighbors son to play with him. At first I thought they new one another but after hearing the language from the older boy I spoke to him and told him he is not allowed to use that language around a 6 year old. I soon discovered that they did not know one another, I then told the older boy he is not under any circumstances allowed to play with any of these children. He and his friend went on their way to the other side of the park. After that day there have been several instances with pre-teenage children and teenage children around the park using bad language, running around and almost knocking the little children down. I have also seen several adults using bad language and leaving trash all around the park. My son's bike was stolen directly from my garage. When I reported it to the police, he said that it happens frequently with kids taking bikes to go back and forth from home and the park. My son feels he wants to go to the park and find the teenager who stole the bike, (we have a description of the kids). My son is 8 and I will not let him confront a teenager but with no security down at the park who knows what can happen. All around I do not feel like I can relax at the park and just let my children play. My guard is always up and I feel uncomfortable. We moved into this neighborhood because of the library, (which is now constantly closed) and park were a safe area to raise our children. Thank you for taking the time to listen and I hope things may change. Karen Dussourd Photos by Tom Christiano ********************************************************************* Residents address the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager about conditions at Varney Park CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
  17. 17. BOSTON GLOBE Renters, owner blast taxes on Chelmsford mobile home park Assessments chafe renters, owner By Katheleen Conti, Globe Staff | August 13, 2009 Betty Pacheco does not think the mobile home she shares with her husband, Bob, in Chelmsford should be assessed for property taxes, but if it must, she would like an accurate assessment and an opportunity to file for senior citizen tax ex- emptions. At the least, she said, she would like to see an actual bill. For 4 1/2 years, the Pachecos have lived in a mobile home on a lot they rent at the Chelmsford Mobile Home Park, which has 255 lots on Littleton Road. Although rents had increased slightly in previous years, the Pachecos were suddenly hit with a $600 rent hike last year, or an extra $50 a month, as a result of the town’s decision in 2008 to assess a value of $30,000 per mobile home at the park. That increased the property value from $3.8 million to $11.5 million and raised the property taxes of park owner Carl De- Cotis by about $100,000 a year, said his attorney, Gregg S. Haladyna. State law exempts mobile home residents from property taxes, but allows for park owners or operators to recover those costs through the rent charged to residents. Chelmsford is the first community in the state to employ this assessment method on mobile homes. But DeCotis is challenging the assessment in state court as well as the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board. The tax board has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 19, said Haladyna, who is handling that case for DeCotis. If the panels find in favor of the town, it could set a precedent for similar property assessments in the state’s 251 mobile home parks in 106 communities. “The majority of us here disagree with the assessment put on the homes,’’ said Pacheco, 64, who is now paying $600 a month in rent. “We’re living on two Social Security checks and an unemployment check. It’s not enough. . . . We think [town officials] are making up their own rules. Everybody thinks it’s because they’re desperate for cash.’’ Pacheco said the majority of the homes in the park are over 34 years old, and likely not worth more than $25,000. The town’s chief assessor, Frank T. Reen, said last week that the Board of Assessors and town counsel advised him not to elaborate on the matter due to pending appeals. He said that two years ago, he and a newly formed Board of Asses- sors began to research the way the town was calculating the property’s value, and made sure to consult state law. In fiscal 2007, the taxes paid on the property were $48,536, Reen said. In fiscal ’08, when the new assessment was in place, the taxes paid were $155,661. Although he could not comment further, in an interview with the Globe last year, Reen stated that the properties at the park “have taken on enough of the characteristics to be considered a conventional home.’’ Town Manager Paul Cohen denied the town is taxing mobile homes. He said the property’s value assessment is fair and based only on “the income generated by that property.’’ “There is this perception we’re taxing the residents, but they’ve never received a tax bill from the town and they never will,’’ Cohen said. “The town’s responsibility is to assess the land owner for the fair market value of his property.’’ Park tenants, who include low-income seniors and residents on disability, are in effect paying not only for the increase in property taxes, but also for the fee in lieu of taxes that the park owner, the town and the state attorney general’s office in- cluded in a 1991 consent judgment, said Sanford A. Kowal, who represents Chelmsford Mobile Home Park Properties LLC in the Superior Court case. Owner DeCotis created the limited liability company last December. The judgment, which stemmed from the owner’s threat to close the mobile home park, included provisions to keep the park open for 30 years, to tie rent increases to the annual value of the land, and to pay the town an annual fee in lieu of taxes, Kowal said. “The town ignored that agreement and taxed us, so now we have a right to pass it on to the tenant, so they’re paying twice - one for the fee and one for the tax,’’ Kowal said. “I don’t know how they can collect both.’’ Cohen denied the town vi- olated the agreement. The lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court was dismissed in May by Judge Herman J. Smith Jr., who ruled the park owner should have first gone through the Appellate Tax Board. Kowal filed an application two weeks ago to have the Supreme Judicial Court hear the appeal directly.
  18. 18. Billboards are sign of future By Rita Savard, 09/02/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Revenue-boosting billboards are back on the front-burner as Town Meeting prepares to vote on a 20-year lease for two of the outdoor structures. In the spring, Town Meeting approved the creation of at least three billboard overlay districts to help bring in up to $90,000 in additional revenue. Now that the Attorney General's office has approved those plans, Town Meeting will vote on Oct. 19 on three more ar- ticles that could place billboards next to Chelmsford High School and at Oak Hill on Route 3, near the Scotty Hollow townhouses. An earlier plan to erect a third billboard at the Route 3 and Interstate 495 interchange was canceled because the area is marked as conservation land. "We could see the billboards in place as early as next spring," said Town Manager Paul Cohen. The three articles will include clarifying language in the town's bylaw so uses conform with the overlay dis- tricts, allowing the School Committee to identify school land as surplus and pass control over to the Board of Selectmen, and finally, to give selectmen approval to enter a 20-year lease for a billboard. The billboard proposal was initially brought forward by Chelmsford resident Sal Lupoli, owner of the Sal's Pizza chain, as a way to generate money for a new athletic field. Lupoli, who owns several billboards of his own, said outdoor advertising can snare thousands of dollars for the town for years to come. During the spring, Lupoli explained that the MBTA was asking $175,000 as a minimum bid from companies to advertise on an MBTA billboard in Lowell along Interstate 495. While Cohen couldn't say for sure how much revenue Chelmsford will make off the billboards, he said the town has an advantage because "there are no other municipally owned billboard sites in this region." Although a two-thirds majority approved the overlay districts in the spring, talk of putting billboards up in Chelmsford did not sit well with some at Town Meeting. "I do not want to see this town tattooed by billboards, which in the end becomes graffiti," said Town Meeting representative Fran McDougal. But in the end, more voters saw the addition of a few billboards as a creative way to save jobs and preserve public services. If Town Meeting approves the articles in October, the town will then submit an application to the Planning Board for a special permit to build the two structures. Cohen, who supports the billboard proposal for its earning potential, said he doesn't see the structures as intrusive to the town. "They'll just be visible from the highway," Cohen said.
  19. 19. BOS, FinComm and School Committee to discuss insurance options Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 01.SEP.09 Zimmerman At a work session Monday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to proceed with a Sept. 21 joint meeting be- tween itself, the Finance Committee and the School Committee to discuss employee health insurance costs. Although union representatives at last Tuesday's Insurance Advisory Board meeting requested the upcom- ing meeting be canceled, selectmen unanimously agreed taxpayers have a right to hear information about the current plan and viable alternatives. "This is not a bargaining session," said BOS Chairman Clare Jeannotte. "This is just to put the information out there to make sure everyone gets it. There is as much misunderstanding as understanding on this issue." Chelmsford currently pays $10.4 million in employee and retiree health benefits. "The state run Group In- surance Commission would cost the town $9.3 million. A comparable Blue Cross alternative would charge the town about $8.8 million. Both the alternative and GIC programs come with higher co-pays for most office visit, hospital stays and some procedures now completely covered. One of the sticking points, however, seems to be the difference in prescription costs for retirees. Under the current plan, a mailed prescription for a generic drug costs retirees $2 for a three-month supply. That jumps up to $15 for a brand name. If the town switched to a GIC plan, mailed prescriptions for a generic drug would cost retirees $20 for a three-month supply. Brand names go for $50 and top tier drugs cost $110. Employee representatives are reluctant to make the switch because higher co-pays would hurt retirees and members who have multiple prescriptions, said Town Manager Paul Cohen. During the Insurance Advisory Board meeting, employee reps suggested they would be more open to the change if the town created a fund to reimburse heavy users for prescription costs, said Cohen. "They also want a portion of the town's savings," said Cohen. Under the current plan, premiums for an individual cost $561.36 per month and for a family costs $1,454.81, of which the town pays 75 percent and the employee pays 25 percent. A Blue Cross alternative plan would lower premiums to $500.50 per month for individuals and $1,297.10 a month for families with the same 75/25 percent split between the town and employee. "This is a budget buster," said Selectman Eric Dahlberg. "People paying for this deserve to hear this. There is $2 million to save effortlessly." Selectman Sean Scanlon agreed the session would help board members understand the unions' stance. "If you believe you're entitled to something, stand up for it," said Scanlon. Although the Sept. 21 meeting at the Senior Center will be open to the public, Jeannotte stressed it is not a public-input session. "The meeting will be a presentation to the boards to hear from experts," said Jeannotte. "None of us are trying to gut employee benefits. We're looking to find a solution all three boards can stand behind."
  20. 20. BOSTON GLOBE Affordable housing law faces new challenge Activist says 40B foes are more frustrated and more organized By Jenifer B. McKim Globe Staff / August 19, 2009 Opponents and advocates of the state’s contentious affordable housing law are preparing for battle - again - after a petition to repeal the 1969 law was submitted to the state attorney general’s office. The petition, submitted by the nonprofit Coalition to Repeal 40B, would place the decision before voters in November 2010. The effort launches a statewide campaign that is bound to heat up a simmering fight over the law, which opponents say unfairly usurps local control over planning without truly helping to provide housing for working families. John Belskis, an Arlington retiree who leads the coalition, said critics are more frustrated and more organized than they were two years ago, when members failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. Members in 184 cities and towns are planning to get the required 66,593 signatures before the due date of Dec. 2, he said. “We were amateurs two years ago. This is a true grass-roots organization,’’ Belskis said. “We’ve almost doubled our membership.’’ organization, membership. Under the law, builders are allowed to bypass certain zoning restrictions in communities where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is classified as affordable. To do so, they must set aside 25 percent of the units they build for residents who make less than 80 percent of the community’s median income. Profits for such projects are capped at 20 percent, with any excess channeled back to the cities and towns to be used to create more housing. Supporters say they will fight to defend the law, which they believe has been fundamental in creating housing for working families. More than 50,000 homes have been built under 40B, of which 28,000 have been designated affordable and set aside for families that meet state income criteria, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Aaron Gornstein, executive director of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, said supporters of the law are taking the petition seriously and will work to educate the public. “We are facing a situation of rising unemployment and record foreclosures, and the need for housing that is affordable for working families is greater than ever,’’ Gornstein said. “That is why it is so important that this successful program be preserved.’’ Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, said it is imperative for the health of the state’s economy that people be able to find affordable housing. “Losing something like 40B would be disastrous, because it would take away one of the major instruments to promote affordable housing for young people,’’ said Bluestone. “This referendum could be devastating to the economy.’’ Opponents of the law argue that it is used by developers to build high density projects, extracting huge profits at the expense of communities. They say the affordable units are too expensive for many working families. State Senator Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican, said many communities are growing increasingly frustrated by housing projects cre- ated under 40B. He said he is confident opponents will garner enough signatures to move the petition forward. Hedlund recently filed a bill to require 40B projects to meet local wetlands bylaws, following concerns about a proposal to build a project along a salt marsh in Scituate. Kristen McEvoy of Groton said she is meeting with members from 10 communities to devise a strategy for gathering signatures. McEvoy be- came involved in the effort two years ago after fighting a 40B development next to her house. Since then, she said, the development has stalled. “Two years ago, we had to educate the public about 40B. Now I’ve got people calling me,’’ McEvoy said. “We know what we are me, doing. We are going to get these signatures and get it on the ballot.’’ ballot Jenifer McKim can be reaches at ********************************************* Boston Herald Repeal eyed for housing law By Christine McConville | Thursday, September 3, 2009 The fate of chapter 40B, the state’s ever-controversial affordable housing law, just might be up to the people after all. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office yesterday approved a petition to repeal the law. Now, repeal supporters need to collect 66,593 signatures of registered Massachusetts voters to land the question on a statewide ballot. Repeal organizer John Belskis of Arlington said more than 400 volunteers in some 200 Massachusetts communities will be out collecting signatures soon. The law allows developers to bypass local height, density and zoning rules if they designate at least 20 percent of their housing units for lower-income people. The law’s supporters say it has created thousands of much-needed low-cost housing, while critics say it has hurt communities and enriched developers. Two years ago, when 40B critics tried to repeal the law with a similar petition, the housing market was still robust, and developers fought it vigorously.
  21. 21. New 40B Proposal in the "WESTLANDS” " WESTLANDS PLACE " 40B on Selectmen's agenda Monday by Kevin Zimmerman 08/09/09 It’s been awhile, but a developer plans to present a Local Initiative Program (LIP) 40B for the Board of Selectmen’s endorsement Monday night. Developer Glenn Kohl, of Wildwood Street, wants to construct Westlands Place, a two-family rental unit located near Fair and Arlington streets in the Westlands. The 72,300 square-foot parcel is mostly wetlands, but Kohl plans to build the 50 foot by 27 ½ wetlands foot, two-story dwelling on 12,000 square feet of upland. Both units will include three bedrooms and one bathroom. One unit will be rented at market rates, the other at an affordable rate. Kohl will need the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant two comprehensive permits: one to allow a multi-family use in a Residential (RB) District and another because the bylaw requires 150 feet of frontage and this property has only 41 feet. Under a LIP, a developer seeks an endorsement from the selectmen, which in theory encour- ages other boards to sign off on the project. Kohl already has secured a yes vote from the Chelmsford Housing Authority. In a letter dated May 6, David Hedison, the authority’s executive director, wrote, “Because there is a need for affordable rental units within the community and the fact that the rent will be set at 50 percent of median area income, the Board voted to support the concept.” concept Although only one would be affordable, because both units are rentals, they both will count to- ward the goal of having 10 percent of the town’s housing stock deemed affordable. ******************************* ------------ Actions taken at the August 10 Board of Selectmen meeting: Heard a presentation by Joseph Shanahan regarding a proposed LIP project on Arlington Street; deferred further action until September 14. 14
  22. 22. Re-Zoning Chelmsford Street ? Building up more businesses in the Westlands?? Could the day come when there will be no more residential homes along Chelmsford Street??? What will be the “MASTER PLAN” ? A case study in change Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 14.AUG.09 Zimmerman/ In an effort to move its proceedings to a more prompt and predictable permitting process, the Planning Board has started a zoning review targeting areas ripe for redevelopment. On Wednesday, the board's consultant, Angus Jennings of Concord Square Development, presented several case studies on commercial sites he believes require the zoning changes before attracting investors. "Flexibility is essential," said Jennings. "You keep what the town wants to achieve but be flexible to accommodate the unique situations." To prove the point, discussed multiple parcels along Chelmsford Street, which lack required setbacks, frontage and lot size minimums. Without zoning changes, each lot would need several waivers and special permits before any type of redevelopment could occur. "You want to market the town for potential economic development,"said Community Development Director Evan Be- lansky. "Through the zoning bylaws you say there are certain areas in town the board feels are prime and ready for redevelopment with expedited permitting." Although "study did not look into what types of businesses might work at each site, it did suggest radical changes to the current zoning requirements along the Route 110 corridor. "As you drive in what is the progression you see?" said . "Now there is a lot of open space and it's not doing what it could." If the goal of the town is to create a thriving commercial/retail district along Chelmsford Street from Route 3 to the Center, change is necessary , said Jennings. Properties at 271, 277, 279 and currently fail to meet lot size requirements, which in the Shopping Center (CC) zone need to be 100,000 square feet, lot width minimums of 200 feet and the 200 feet frontage requirement.Combining some of those lots would address nearly all of those issues. He also suggested eliminating the need for any setback along one side of the parcel would increase the lot's attractive- ness to developers. Other things changes would consider include altering some of the landscaping and parking requirements. Board member Sue Carter agreed some of the zoning requirements hinder redevelopment, but stressed the need for the town to secure support of residents before moving forward. "We need to come up with something to sell to the residents as well, " said Carter. "We have to be realistic about it."acknowledged the study takes a it broad approach to redevelopment and some suggestions may not work in all locales. But for Belansky keeping the status quo is counterproductive. "The town is sending mixed signals," said Belansky. "There is existing land zoned commercial you want for rede- velopment, but the bylaws are preventing it." *************************************** From: "Joanne Anderson" <> Date: August 21, 2009 10:25:24 AM EDT To: "Roy Earley" <> Subject: Fw: Chelmsford St.
  23. 23. Hi Roy, Thought you might be interested in this story and possibly having this included in your next in-town report as I feel the more people are made aware of this potential addition of traffic, etc. to Chelmsford St, the more we can make noise to help make changes so it does not happen. I looked into this after reading Kevin's article as well as speaking with Debbie Dery and Evan. Joanne ----- Original Message ----- From: Joanne Anderson To: Colleen Stansfield Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:03 AM Subject: Chelmsford St. Hi Colleen, I was wonder ing if you could c l ar i fy s ome i s s ues I have i n regards to the rec ent pl an- ni ng board meeting with the c ons ul tant i n regards to areas on C hel ms ford S t. that c oul d be developed. I thought you woul d be the bes t pers on to as k fi rs t s i nc e you l i ve i n the area. I s poke with Evan yesterday for about 30 mi nutes. H e bas i c al l y s ai d, i t's goi ng to hap- pen, all you can do is not jus t s i t around and wai t and then not be happy w i th w hat goes there. First of all, isn't one of the addres s es the s i te w here there i s c urrentl y a hous e? I know I've spoken w i th the ow ner and he has no i ntenti on of putti ng a bus s i - nes s there. As a matter of fac t, i f you remember he us ed to have the l i quor s tore and i t was never open. The addresses I was concer ned about as wel l are on ei ther s i de of the s ec ond en- trance tothe mall. The one nex t to Feng S hui and the other s i de. Fi rs t of al l , w hy are we l ooking at an area that i s al ready s o bus y to add more bus i nes s ? W hen I as ked E van this question, his answer was bas i c al l y that we c an't tel l a bus i nes s w here they s hould or shouldn't go as I s ugges ted that i t s eems c raz y to s ugges t new c ons tr uc ti on on l ots that don't wor k if there i s empty s pac es dow ntow n. E van told me we should get together as a nei ghborhood and tr y to c hange the zoni ng by -l aws so that only the type of bus i nes s we feel woul d be appropr i ate for the area i s pl ac ed there and not anythi ng l i ke Mc D onal ds or D unk i n D onuts w hi c h tec hni c al l y c oul d be there based on the s hoppi ng c enter zoni ng. H e bas i c al l y s ai d your hands as the planning board, are tied by the ty pe of zoni ng that i s i n pl ac e and regardl es s of how inappropr iate the area mi ght be, i f s omethi ng wants to be there that fi ts the zon- i ng i t will be there as we have not made the zoni ng a way that woul d not per mi t i t. I bel ieve these lots are cons i dered unabl e to be us ed bec aus e they do not met the re- qui rements for cer tain things and woul d need mul ti pl e var i anc es etc . H owever, It ap- pears to me like this consul tant i s s ugges ti ng that you c hange c er tai n thi ngs s uc h as l andscaping, footage, etc to make thes e s i tes wor k . P l ease let me know your thoughts on thi s. I am ver y c onc er ned about fur ther c onges - ti on etc along this stretch of C hel ms ford S t. Jus t as an ex ampl e, my hus band was rear ended last year waiting to take a l eft dow n to our s treet. There are constantly people tak i ng i l l egal l eft hand tur ns i nto the mal l dr i veway on C hel msford St. before the li ghts as they don't want to have to go to the l i ghts and wai t. A nd, of course, we can't forget that i nev i tabl y I bel i eve S top and S hop w i l l be bui l t and l ook down the street in Lowel l and Lowe's w i l l be here before we k now i t. Thanks, Joanne Anderson Please feel free to pass my concerns onto your board members.
  24. 24. Seeking more info on the subject I contacted George Zaharoolis Planning Board Chairman ---------------------------- Roy in response to your e-mail. The study being done by Angus Jennings from Concord Square Planning & Development is NOT a study commissioned by the Planning Board. The Planning Board had NO say in the parameters or the locations for the case study. The presentation that was made was to inform the Planning Board of the study and to provide us with an update. This study was commissioned by the Community Development Office to review the Town of Chelmsford’s Zoning By-Laws pursuant to Mass Gen. Law Ch 43D Expedited Permitting. As stated in the presentation cover letter submitted to the Planning Board the summary of the project is; • Review existing land use regulations as they apply to redevelopment projects, • Using a case study approach, examine the hypothetical effect of such polices on redevelopment op- portunities for selected sites in Chelmsford. • Where appropriate, recommend amendments to existing policies that would advance the town’s rede- velopment objectives. The study is reviewing our existing bylaws and how it pertains to possible redevelopment sites throughout the Town of Chelmsford. Once this study is completed, it will be presented to the town for further review. The Town may elect to select some, all, or none of the recommendations put forth. Of course, any review process [bylaw, rule and/or regulation change] that would involve the Planning Board would include public input. As with any review process that takes place, the Planning Board goes to great lengths to make sure that we hear all of the concerns of Chelmsford residents. I would encourage you to contact Evan Belansky in the Community Development office for further informa- tion on the study. Sincerely, George Zaharoolis ************************** I then contacted Evan Belansky - Community Development Director Asking As Community Development Director do you have a vision for the Chelmsford Street/Route 110 corridor from Rt. 3 to the center? Please explain??? ---------------------------- Response to the In Town Report by Evan Belansky, dated September 2, 2009 Prior to directly answering your question as to if I, as the Community Development Director, have a vision for the Chelmsford Street/Route 110 corridor from Rt. 3 to the center, some background and contextual information is warranted. The Planning Board meeting of August 5, 2009, as referenced in the “Chelmsfordmassnews” article, in which a zoning consultant presented several redevelopment case studies, one of which was located at the properties of 271, 277, 279 & 283 Chelmsford Street, must not be viewed as an isolated discussion, but an event within a comprehensive, coordinated and continuing process. Specifically, dating back to June 17, 2008, the Town’s Economic Development Manager and I presented the economic suitability and opportunities for seven strategic areas in Chelmsford.
  25. 25. One of these areas was the Route 110 (Chelmsford St.) corridor from Route 495 to Route 3. This presentation identified the properties located at 271, 277, 279 & 283 as vacant and / or un - derutilized and available for potential development. During October of 2008, several events of significance occurred. The first was the Planning Board’s approval of the redevelopment of the former Skip’s property, located at 116 Chelmsford Street and the other was Town Meetings adoption of Chapter 43D, “Expedited Permitting”. These events are significant because as part of the Skip’s review and approval process mem - bers the Planning Board began to express a potential need and desire to explore the adoption of “redevelopment” zoning bylaws. Town Meetings adoption of the 43D statute was also signifi - cant because it set the stage for the Town to receive $60,000 in technical assistance grants for the implementation of expedited permitting and the removal of barriers to economic develop - ment. Following up on Town Meeting, in December 2008, the State approved the Town’s proposed uti - lization of the $60,000 43D grant. Specifically, $10,000 was dedicated towards a review of ex - isting land use regulations as they apply to redevelopment and recommended amendments to existing policies that would advance the Town’s economic development goals and objectives. On March 25, 2009 and April 22, 2009, the Community Development Department presented the draft Economic Development Plan to the Planning Board, at which time members of the Board provided input and feedback. Beginning in March 2009 and continuing to the present, the Master Plan Committee began meeting and initiated the process of crafting a draft vision statement. One of the reoccurring themes was the need to promote economic development via redevelopment opportunities. This theme was supported by input received from the public. The above events led to the Planning Board on August 5, 2009. So, to your original question, my vision for Chelmsford Street/Route 110 corridor from Rt. 3 to the center mirrors the Town’s vision, as expressed in existing land use regulations and planning documents, in this case the Zoning map, zoning bylaw and planning documents such as the 1996 Master Plan, the draft Economic Development Plan and the ongoing update of the Master plan However, my role within the planning process, is to assist the Town, specifically the policy mak - ers, in articulating and implementing their Vision and associated goals and objectives; in this case the economic development via redevelopment of properties. Hence, based upon the Vision, as articulated above, the subject parcels, along Chelmsford Street, being zoned commercially as “Shopping Center”, and thereby presenting a preference, appropriateness and desire for commercial development in accordance with the standards set forth in the zoning bylaw, but the standards within the Zoning Bylaw, resulting in the subject lots all being non-conforming as it relates to lot area and frontage, therefore requiring significant zoning relief in the form of a variance from the Zoning Board in order to be developed, these lots were chosen as case studies for potential candidates for redevelopment zoning. As a side note, my discussion and recommendations to Joanne Anderson were intended to serve as a “heads up” to her that the existing zoning allows for many uses, some of which may not be viewed favorably by an abutter or neighborhood, such as fast food restaurants with drive-thru or strip plazas, and if this is the case, that those concerns need to be brought to the attention of the Planning Board and Master Plan Committee.
  26. 26. My comment on “it is going to happen” simply means that change is inevitable. Sooner or later, based upon a premier location, economics and a property owners desire to receive a financial benefit, the necessary steps will be taken, such as lot consolidation, to move these types of non-conforming properties to a position were development / redevelopment is a more likely scenario. Simply relying on the premise that the lots are not developable based upon being non-conforming and that if a Board or neighborhood does not want a particular use, is not a logical or reasonable to think or assume that it will not become developable and therefore conforming in the future or that denying a project is legally or fiscally responsible. Evan ********** Finally I contacted Jim Lane (Master Plan Chairman) for his take on the news article ---------------------------- In Town Report Commentary by Jim Lane/Chairman of the Master Plan Committee At the request of the “In Town Report” I am providing input on behalf of the master plan committee in reference to August 14th, 2009 on line article entitled “A Case Study In Change.” In the fall of 2008, town meeting approved Katrina road as a designated chapter 43D site. This enabled the town to capitalize on state grant money to invest in a consultant to review the town’s economic development and perform case studies on selected areas in town and how those areas may be better suited for redevelopment. As a result of this funding, the Town of Chelms - ford (not the planning board as noted in the article) entered into a contract with Concord Square Development, Neither the planning board nor the master plan committee provided the chosen case study sites or were involved with the study process. The master plan committee has not heard the Concord Square Development presentation however it may be beneficial to do so during our process. During the master plan public input sessions there was a reoccurring theme focused on redevel - opment and the general support for sustainable economic development that fits the characteris - tics of Chelmsford. It is important to note the master plan committee is focused on all areas of the town regarding economic development and is not solely discussing the route 110 corridors. Some of the public session feedback has brought items such as amenity zoning for the 129 corridor; overlay districts for the town squares and the use of a streamlined permitting process to help attract solid businesses into the town. In summary, the master plan committee was not created to dictate policy. They were formed to facilitate a process based on public input, data collection and historical information and to use that process to establish a document that will guide the town’s policy makers, boards and resi - dents for the next 10-15 years with regards to land use, housing, economic development, open space and recreation, historical, natural and cultural resources, infrastructure and transporta - tion. More importantly the committee will be charged with making recommendations to the plan - ning board to form an implementation committee that will be focused on maintaining the integrity of the document and to provide guidance to future boards, committees and town departments. Please feel free to come to our next public input session on September 17th @ the Senior Cen - ter from 7-9pm. The session will focus on Infrastructure, Transportation, Services and Facilities needs for the town. The master plan committee meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month @ the town offices, 6:30pm and each meeting begins with open session. ----------------------------
  27. 27. The Trials and Tribulations of Aggrevate. err, I mean Aggregate -------------------------- Chelmsford firm fined $2.75M By Rita Savard, 08/18/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Aggregate Industries -Northeast Region Inc. will pay $2.75 million in fines for Clean Water Act violations, under an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice. The penalty, which included violations at the company's Chelmsford plant on Oak Street, is the largest ever assessed to a nation-wide ready mix concrete company for storm-water violations. The violations took place at 23 of the company's facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and spanned from June 2001 through earlier this year, according to court documents. "For environmental quality in Chelmsford, Aggregate is required to do additional monitoring over its permit re - quirements to make sure they're not putting pollutants into surface waters," said EPA senior enforcement counsel waters Margery Adams. "That includes monthly inspections and visual monitoring of storm water discharges, with Ag - gregate providing the EPA results of the samplings." samplings John C. Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Divi- sion, said the settlement will result in better management practices and improved compliance to prevent harmful storm- water runoff. The complaint, filed in federal court with the settlement, alleges a pattern of violations since 2001 that were discovered after several federal inspections at the company's facilities. The violations included failure to document routine facility in- spections and failure to perform quarterly monitoring and annual evaluations. In addition, the company allegedly discharged process waste waters, sanitary waste waters and storm water without proper permits from several facilities. Process waters include waters from sand and gravel concrete production operations such as vehicle and equipment clean- ing, aggregate processing and washing, and concrete truck washout. At the facilities where permits were in place, the complaint alleges that the company failed to have proper drainage, failed to perform pavement sweeping and failed to maintain catch basins. The runoff, which contained total suspended solids, oil and grease, metals, and other materials detrimental to aquatic life and water quality, flowed into wetlands, steams and brooks that flowed into tributaries of the Atlantic Ocean. "Ultimately, pollutants were reaching waters that provide ecological value," Adams said. value Since being notified of the violations by EPA, Adams said the asphalt manufacturing giant has made significant improve- ments to its storm water management systems, including at its Oak Street site in Chelmsford. During an EPA inspection in April 2006, the Chelmsford facility proved to be effectively separating its storm water flow from the town road, and from other potential outlets, Adams said. Aggregate spokesman Derek Young said the issues raised in Thursday's settlement were in the past and have since been resolved. "We have taken steps to improve the environment both as a result of this and because it's the right thing to do," Young said. The company has spent $6.8 million from 2003 to 2005 upgrading its water discharge systems "above and beyond what's required at all the affected sites," Young added. Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen said Aggregate has performed drainage and storm water improvements at the site, and received the necessary permits to do so from the Conservation Commission in 2006. Aggregate was also ordered to perform comprehensive compliance evaluations at each of its 43 facilities in New England, as well as any facilities acquired in the next three years, to ensure that they are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Last year, Aggregate became the subject of controversy in Chelmsford when the company approached town of - ficials for a permit to add more storage tanks at the Oak Street site. The permit request came two months after the asphalt manufacturer was fined $587,000 by the state in April 2008 to settle Clean Air Act violations al - leged at 10 of its 28 Massachusetts facilities. Chelmsford residents argued that if Aggregate was allowed to in - crease its storage capacity, it would pose a threat to the environ - ment and adversely impact their health. Aggregate eventually withdrew its request, blaming the stalled economy. "In addition to the penalty, which is significant, it sends a message to the industry to pay attention to and comply with the Clean Water Act," Adams said. "We plan to keep a close eye on Aggregate to make sure it continues to be in compliance."