In-Town Report 12 15 09


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In-Town Report 12 15 09

  1. 1. C h e l m s f o r d ’s H o l i d ay P r e l u d e PHOTOS BY : TOM CHRISTIANO
  3. 3. Byam Gift Room may be heading to court By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Posted Dec 07, 2009 @ 01:03 PM Chelmsford — The two Byam School mothers who made headlines around the country for protesting the school's policy banning religious icons at a holiday fundraiser are pondering a lawsuit against the school district. Kathleen Cullen, a Byam School parent said she and Kathy McMillan are working with the Liberty Counsel, a nationwide nonprofit litigation and policy organization specializing in religious freedom litigation and are considering filling a suit over the fundraiser’s policies. Although the four-day fundraiser, which allows children to purchase non-denominational gifts priced from 25 cents to $2, ended last Friday, the women are considering suing on the basis of viewpoint discrimination, said Cullen. “We haven’t decided yet, but it looks that way,” said Cullen. The policy, which has been in place for 27 years, allows children to purchase donated, bought or hand-made seasonal gifts such as snowmen, snow globes, mittens and scarves. But it does not allow for any religiously affiliated items or anything pertaining to Christmas, such as candy canes or stockings. School Superintendent Dr. Donald Yeoman said the School Department received a faxed copy of a letter from the Liberty Counsel on Wednesday, Dec. 2 regarding a potential lawsuit and the department’s legal counsel is handling the matter. Yeoman said the sale is over and both he and the Byam PTO are looking to move on and work on other fundraisers. “We received a letter stating their position from the Liberty Counsel,” said Yeoman. “There are kids that are struggling to learn, we have homeless kids [in our schools], these are really the priorities so that’s what we are focusing on because the PTO sale is over. I would assume [the PTO] is focusing on one of their 13 other fundraisers.” Steve Crampton, general counsel for the Liberty Counsel said the organization is working on the suit and continued silence from the Chelmsford school department could drive the Counsel to file a suit in federal court. “Their silence can’t stop our pursuing legal remedies,” said Crampton, adding that he could not give an anticipated date for filing the suit. “If they don’t respond we’ll just proceed with filing the lawsuit.” Despite the completion of the Gift Room, Crampton said the counsel is looking ahead to next year’s Gift Room and chang- ing its policies, which he charge in its current state violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. “The giving of gifts under these circumstances constitutes a form of expressive conduct that is protected by the First Amendment under the United States Constitution,” he said. “[Banning gifts] constitutes discrimination on the basis of view- point and content in our view.” The Liberty Counsel is viewing the lawsuit as a top priority, according to Crampton. Crampton said at this time they are not seeking monetary compensation, rather a change in policy. However, he said that does not mean the school district will be sparred from paying their legal fees if they are successful in their suit. McMillan and Cullen previously sought the help of the conservative Christian legal firm, the Alliance Defense Fund and its senior counsel Jordan Lorence. Lorence sat beside the two women at a Nov. 25 School Committee meeting on the fundraiser’s policies. But Lorence, was advising the mothers what he called the “extreme policy,” said this week that he has not spoken to McMil- lan and Cullen since the meeting and has no knowledge of any lawsuit. Lorence’s presence at the meeting led school officials to believe the two women had motives beyond allowing candy canes at the Gift Room. “I think these people have other agendas,” said Yeoman. The debate over the PTO fundraiser has shown a national media light on the town and on the Byam Elementry School. Most recently conservative media personality Bill O’Reilly discussed the policy on his show “The O’Reilly Factor,” on Friday, Dec. 2. The broadcast showed members of Fox News following School Committee members, charging them with ruining Christmas for children. The PTO members have said since the controversy first began early CLICK HERE last month that much of the work on the fundraiser was already under for way and it was far too late to make such a large change. O’Reilly clip Byam School Association board president Joanne Hayes said the two women had between eight to ten opportunities to come forward and express their viewpoints before the board chose to continue the fundraiser as it had done in the past with. But Hayes previously said the PTO is willing to listen to the women’s points for next year’s fundraiser. However, Crampton said given the school department’s lack of response to the counsel’s letter he does not think they in- tend to change the policy for next year’s fundraiser. While he said a law suit may seem extreme to some, the two women have no real alternative. School Committee members did not officially vote at the meeting and the committee was told by its attorney Gini Tate that the fundraiser fell under the PTO and was not within their jurisdiction.
  4. 4. Hearing on North Road office building continued until January Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 14.DEC.09 Epsilon LLC arrived at last week’s Planning Board meeting with Conservation and Historic District commissions approvals needed to construct its office building at 9 North Road, but left with a public hearing continued until Jan- uary 2010. About a half a dozen residents queued up to offer their support for Michael Eliopoulos’ project slated for land be- hind the Center Fire Station. Many who spoke echoed the sentiments of Ralph Andrews of Diamond Street. “I’m very impressed with the style of this building,” said Andrews. “It will fit in well with the area and bring in foot traffic.” But for the couple of residents who spoke against the building, the key issue remains the 30-year-old preservation restriction on the parcel. “It is the intention of the granters to provide an open space conservation area and pond -- that’s open space and a pond -- for the general benefit of the grantees, every resident of Chelmsford,” Singlefoot Road resident Steve Olney said. Town counsel recently said the restriction does not prevent all future development on the land. The restriction refers to buildings and structures designed to look like a barn, such as the bank drive-through constructed after the restriction was in place. But Olney believes the developer is taking advantage of what he called “loopholes” in a “badly written restriction.” “That does not detract from its intent,” said Olney. “This is making a farce out of this restriction. Your vote defines ethics and common sense. Your vote is a million dollar gift if you vote this in. You can either be on the right side of the appeal or the developer’s (side).” Representing Epsilon LLC, Attorney Phil Eliopoulos said the developer has not ignored the preservation restriction. “From Day 1, we wanted to design a plan to fit completely within those requirements,” said Eliopoulos. “Given the nature of the preservation restriction, we met with the Historic District Commission before applying to get their feedback on the design of the building. There were also several pages of comments from the town engineer and Conservation Commission that all have been addressed to their satisfaction.” Eliopoulos, who recently stepped down from the Board of Selectmen and continues to be a member of the Master Plan Committee, took exception to some claims that town officials have given him preferential treatment during the hearing process. Mike Sargent, who owns property abutting the Epsilon site, believes the opposite is true. Sargent questioned how the first public hearing for the proposal could be advertised in the local paper on the same day the plan received its official stamp from the Community Development Office. He also believes the Planning Board has kept the majority of public input in favor of the plan. Sargent wonders why when the board should consider if any proposal provides an economic benefit to the town, a resident who tried to discuss commercial vacancies was told that information was not relevant. The process should not take personalities into the mix, said Sargent. Planning Board members should vote against this plan because it does not benefit the community and will destroy open space in the Center, said Sar- gent. “Town counsel did not say you had to approve this project,” said Sargent. “Residents of Chelmsford are looking for you to look out for them. Residents today, tomorrow, 100 years from now should be able to enjoy that view. If you approve this project kiss it (view) goodbye.” The hearing was continue until Jan. 13, 2010.
  5. 5. One hurdle left for center office building By Rita Savard, 12/12/2009 CHELMSFORD -- After receiving approval from two town boards for constructing an office building on North Road, the Eliopoulos family's last hurdle rests with the Planning Board. The Conservation Commission and the Historic District Commission have both approved plans for a two- story office building at 11 North Road, behind the Center Fire Station. Eastern Bank sold the land for $480,000 to Epsilon LLC, managed by Michael Eliopoulos, in June. If approved, the 15,494-square-foot Colonial-style building will house medical, dental and law offices, all managed by the Eliopoulos family. The project has come under fire by the Slow Growth Initiative, a Chelmsford-based organization against the state's 40B affordable housing law and unnecessary growth. In October, Craig Chemaly, executive director of SGI, called the building a "high-rise" and was concerned the project would violate a 1979 preservation restriction on the land. In December 1979, the Board of Selectmen approved a preservation restriction on the land to steer future development of the property, which includes the historic Emerson House. One of the conditions on the re- striction states "no other building shall be erected on said premises except barnlike structures and silo which shall generally present the exterior appearance of farm buildings and barns." "It seems that it's the intent of the developer to skirt around the (restriction) to build there. But it's a bad idea," Chemaly has said. "That's a beautiful piece of open space that we don't need to build on when there's plenty of available office space all along Route 4 and other parts of town." Town Counsel Patricia Cantor, of Kopelman and Paige, said that based on the terms of the preservation re- striction, the application, and the design plans, "the Planning Board could approve the special permits." Dennis Ready, a member of the Historic District Commission, which approved the project Monday night, said all plans submitted from landscaping to design "more than met" the requirements of the commission. The Historic District Commission, Ready added, also had a lot of input on the exterior design of the build- ing. As part of the purchase-and-sale agreement of the land, Epsilon LLC has restored the historic Emerson House, also on North Road. Community Development Director Evan Belansky said that if the Planning Board approves the project, the Board of Selectmen would still be the final arbiter if problems arise with the proposal, or if someone challenges the decision of the other regulatory boards. The Planning Board, which has received about seven letters supporting the project and two opposing it, will revisit the issue at its Jan. 13 meeting. Chelmsford Planning Board 12-9-09 The Planning Board hears from resident Dr. Michael G Sargent about the Philip Eliopoulos rebuts the accusations by Eliopoulos project Dr. Michael Sargent CLICK HERE FOR CLIP CLICK HERE FOR CLIP
  6. 6. BY-PASS the BY-LAW ? 12 STEDMAN ST. /THE BOARD OF APPEALS LEGAL NOTICE The Board of Appeals of the Town of Chelmsford will hold public hearings on Thursday, December 17, 2009 at the Town Offices, 50 Billerica Road, to hear requests for Special Permits, Variances, and other appeals. HEARINGS FOR SPECIAL PERMITS AND VARIANCES BEGIN AT 7:00 P.M. 12 Stedman Street Frank O'Brien for a Special Permit for a Home Occupation, (Section 195-7), and for a Variance for Relief from Home Occupation Dimensional Limit (Section 195-7 (B) (2), for the property situated at 12 Stedman Street. Per Order, John R. Blake, Jr., Chairman Appeared in: Chelmsford Independent on Thursday, 12/10/2009 *************************************************************************************** LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Pay attention to variance requested in Westlands The Lowell Sun 12/08/2009 As a former selectman and a 44-year resident of Chelmsford, I have been following the events surrounding the business operating at 12 Steadman St. with great interest and deep concern, for it has the potential to affect the entire community. This a situation in which a business owner bought a home to support expansion of his business. With his own words, he has admitted that he knew he would not be in compliance with the local zoning bylaws of Chelmsford. He set up his operation in a residential neighborhood de- spite this knowledge, and then, because of pressure from the neighbors, after eight months of operation he finally filed for a special permit and variance. This request will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 17. It should also be noted this business owner has a history of noncompliance. If the ZBA were to grant this request to utilize excess of 25 percent of the home and non-family members as employees, the town of Chelmsford should be prepared for an onslaught of special permits in all areas of the community. The Westlands section of Chelmsford is close to the commercial districts, and this is not the first time this area has had to fight to keep its residential neighborhood. I would urge everyone, if possible, to attend this very important ZBA meeting on Dec. 17. Your neighborhood could be next. TOM MORAN Chelmsford
  7. 7. Meet the Neighbor part 2 A Q&A with 12 Stedman Street’s Frank O’Brien In-Town Report: Do you understand why your neighbors are concerned about the implications of your request for a special permit and variances? Frank O’Brien: I wasn't aware until after the complaints to town and newspapers as a result of my 9 October open house, but after talking to Laurie Myers and Ken and Dorothy Skelley, I now appreciate that many of my neigh- bors, in particular the ones more active with the Westland Watchdog Group, are very sensitive to a per- ceived threat that businesses are encroaching on their residential setting, perhaps more so because of the close proximity of the commercial zones to the south on Chelmsford Rd, and the north towards Lowell. I've since learned that there's been a long history of opposing any encroachment to their, now our, residential setting. I sincerely wish to extend every reasonable accommodation to my neighbors in order to respect their need for a residential setting. I've since removed the white lines on my driveway, other than the 4 lines by the garage, which serve an important prompting role and aren't as visible from neighbors or road. The open house enter and exit signs were removed by the end of the open house, before any complaints from neigh- bors or town were received, as they were never intended to be permanent. Zoning bylaw 195-31(A) allows a 1 square foot sign on a family house, including an accessory use. The sign by my breezeway with busi- ness name and street no, to help with deliveries, was made from standard 20 by 30 inch foam board from Michael's, it was about 4 square feet, (the one famously pictured on your website), so I removed it as soon as a complaint was received. Should I be granted a special permit, and as part of my seeking a variance for the extra non-household employee, I'd like to waive my right to the 3 square foot sign, in order to re- spect the residential setting. I hope the town and my neighbors will conclude that the openness and high level of cooperation I've extended to the town and my neighbors since the complaints speaks to my char- acter as one wishing to operate within zoning regulations, do my best to maintain my neighborhood's char- acter and property value, while trying to make a living without bothering anyone. If my neighbors share a similar interest in understanding my point of view, I'd like to share the following. Back in Lowell, 4 miles away, I hired a 2nd engineer in September 2008, and began looking for suitable commericial or a home ofice setting for the next phase of my business. I looked at many commercial op- tions, but this house in Chelmsford was the best option. I expected Chelmsford's zoning bylaws would be similar to Lowell's, which I later confirmed, and with the garage setup the way I needed, and seeing the prior owner had a home occupation, it was a perfect location. I actually found the proximity to the 495 exit to be an advantage, rather than what most homeowners would find as a disadvantage. The house had been empty for 2 years so I bought it. Knowing what I now know about the Westland Watchdog group, I kind of wish you'd put a sign on the property, right next to the "For Sale" sign that said, "Don't even think about operating a business from this home". That would have been respected by me, as I would have found another neighborhood. Anyway, lacking a clear sign like that, I made a reasonable business deci- sion to buy this house and setup my business inside in accordance with Chelmsford bylaws. After moving in, I researched more carefully the bylaws. I saw that I had a very strong case for a special permit, but that my 2nd non-household employee would require a variance. Lacking neighbor complaints I knew in Lowell this wouldn't be a problem. I wasn't quite ready for the response my open house had. But I'm glad my neighbors and I now have a chance to see that both sides will be represented throughout the town's zon- ing bylaw approval process. My bottom line is, allow me to make a living, as I did in Lowell, to the extent zoning bylaws permit, and I'll do anything reasonable to accommodate a residential setting. I'm not asking for any courtesy I wouldn't extent to any of you. To get back to an important point raised in your question, what are the implications should I be approved for a special permit and separately a variance for the extra non-household employee. I think I have a fair chance at getting approved for the Special Permit. My business brings some clear ben- efits to the town, I employ 4 persons, 3 of which are high salary type positions (including myself, if I have a
  8. 8. good year). Since 2004, I've helped 36 medical device companies within 2 hours of Chelmsford, Chelms- ford's job base, with their regulatory approvals. I really have no negative effects on the neighborhood, as- suming I don't put a sign out by the road. It might be naive of me, but I'm neglecting the chance that any political considerations will enter into the decision. Even if they did, while it's important to support all the active voters in the Watchdog group, I think politicians also have to think about the wider town's voters and wanting to be seen as supporting jobs. The implication of getting a special permit I don't find significant, precedent-wise. Perhaps I'm naive but I seem to place more faith in the Board of Appeals who oversees the home occupation special permits, than my neighbors. I am new, so don't know the history, but as I drive around Chelmsford's residential neighborhoods I see very nice residential settings, certainly that's true in my Stedman St neighborhood, south of Rt 3 overpass. Where my neighbors and I might differ is I don't see an approval for a good home occupation application as being a precedent for a bad one. Each is judged by it's own merits, as required by town zoning. Looking at my variance application, this could have some implications precedent-wise, but I don't think it's as wide as you might think. Even if I'm wrong about that, there are plenty of conditions we could impose to narrow it's precedent value. First, we should say, that I don't have much chance of getting approved. The legal problem is I must show how the structural shape limits of the home occupation bylaws results in hardships for me to comply with, but at the same time I can't be effectively asking the board to approve what amounts to a change in "land use", because I'm trying to avoid moving my occupation to a commer- cial space. I think in my situation I can explain hardship without legally crossing the land use line, but we'll see what the board says. I also have no intentions of moving in the next 5, perhaps 10 years. Should my business be successful and I'm able to move it to a commercial setting, I intend to stay in this house, at which time it will be completely residential. But one never knows. In any case, if we assume that my vari- ance approval is a credible possibility, then let's consider how wide a precedent this might be. It would be my understanding, based only my recent studies of the bylaws, that the variance wouldn't actually apply to my specific building, but rather to my specific home occupation as a structure, because that's the structure that's being given relief from a size limit. You cannot condition a variance on ownership (if someone gets approval to build a shed too close to a neighbor, future owners will not have to move it). If I sold the busi- ness, it would still apply to the business, as it can't be tied to ownership, but it is tied to the home occupa- tion as a structure, so it can't directly help other people's home occupations. Now I should say, that if the variance is tied to only my home occupational structure, that that would be a solid restriction, as my type of business can't really be sold. It's value is really too tied to me. But because anything could happen, we could look at additional conditions that might further restrict any precedent. If in fact my variance would apply to other home occupations, (this would at least be true in an very indirect sense), then additional re- strictions would be useful to keep the precedent very narrow. Additional conditions would include posses- sion of a special permit, but this is not a high burden for a home occupation. I'm willing to waive the 3 foot sign allowed by the special permit, so this would provide some protection. I think another condition that would have merit is to condition it on the total employee count, whether household members or non- household members. This protects the neighborhood from a large 7 person family who now with a special permit and similar variance can have 2 non-household employees. I would gladly accept a restriction of maximum 4 employees, no mater what type. To the extent the neighborhood needs to worry about trucks with company names on them, I would also agree to have it conditioned that I could not have any trucks or vehicles with company names on them. So while a variance would set up a precedent, probably only in an indirect sense, I think with the right conditions, which the zoning bylaws do allow the board of appeals to impose, MGL 40A, Section 10, I think the precedent can be effectively narrowed to being acceptable to a residential setting. In-Town Report: What other types of businesses do you think potentially might request the same considerations? Would you be ok with a small business, (such as a nail salon,bakery,flower shop for example) operating next door under the same provisions that you are asking for, i.e., non-household employees, customer visits, signage, etc.? Frank O’Brien: Just to be clear, I'm not asking for a sign. Looking first at the Special Permit approval process that allows the things you're asking about, 1 non- household employee, customer visits, a sign, there are many dimensions to the home occupation limits. All must be met. The businesses you've mentioned, if successful business-wise, would all have problems with the traffic limit, which restricts the effect to residential levels, and perhaps parking problems.
  9. 9. Traffic effects can be a gray area, especially for a busy road like Stedman, but the parking rules are black and white (max 20% of lot, and front setback limit). Once you have negative effects on the neighborhood and town, such as traffic, your benefits have to out weigh them, (bylaw 195-102(B)). I can see some bene- fit in these services you mention, in particular a "mom and pop" bakery or flower shop, but there would be a point where traffic wouldn't justify their location in a residential setting. By the way, my engineering consult- ing business would have occasional visitors, rather than frequent visitors. I normally service customers without them being at my home office. Getting back to how I would judge home occupations in a residential neighborhood, including my own, I feel the current zoning bylaws have merit, but as I've been a recent student of them, I see they do have some weaknesses too. If we look at the zoning bylaws, the dimensional limits are, first, looking at 195-7(A): must be wholly hosted within house, doesn't use more than 25% of space, employs household members only, any traffic has to be consistent with residential levels, no hazardous materials, and no signs. Looking at the Special Permit 195-7(B) limits: same as (A) and 1 non-household employee, visitors allowed, parking requirements, and could store hazardous materials with suitable protections. My thoughts on the (A) and (B) limits? I see weaknesses similar to the conditions I'd be willing to impose on myself should I get a vari- ance, in order to protect a residential setting. Perhaps there should be a limit on total employee size in that a large family or household could have a large business. It doesn't restrict the number of trucks, trucks with signs on them being particularly seen as non-residential. A last improvement, and this is required in Low- ell, even for "type (A)" businesses, is one could require a permit from town. This allows a fee to be col- lected, easier for enforcement, and it gives the fire and police departments a list for donations (no joke). So I don't see current bylaws as perfect but I see them as taking care of the important protections. If I was to rewrite zoning criteria 195-102(B), I'd be more careful about wording as well. It now says, "adverse effects ... will not outweigh its beneficial impacts to the Town or the neighborhood...". This literally means that if you had very high benefits, you could have very high adverse effects. I don't think this is what we want, or what the framers of the zoning bylaws intended. There should be a intolerable threshold on adverse ef- fects, no matter how large the benefits. This is a subtle legal point, and one where human boards would enforce the intent, but one where better wording would make enforcement easier. In-Town Report: As this has been an awkward introduction to many of your neighbors, what would you like them to know about you on a personal level? Frank O’Brien: I was born in Fall River, and now live in Chelsmford. In between I've lived in the Syracuse NY area (22 yr), Long Island NY (10), Frankfurt Germany (6), San Jose CA (6), and Lowell (8 yr). My travels have brought me full circle, but there's a bit of an arc to the circle. My work is a fair amount of my life. I evaluate medical products for safety. I did this for Underwriter's Laboratories for 24 years, and since 2004 have been a con- sultant. I volunteer my time to the US national committee which nominates me as an international commit- tee member to write new medical device safety requirements. I enjoy teaching. A small part of my business is to teach designers about new medical device safety requirements. I was together with my wife for 20 years, but sadly she passed away 2 years ago, of a sudden heart attack. We were married in the Seychelles. I have 2 step daughters on Long Island, and 3 grandchildren (7, 5, and 4) who I visit fre- quently, and who make the Lowell festival here every year. I have a brother and his family in the Syracuse NY area. He's the father of my office manager nephew, who recently graduated from college. My sister lives in San Francisco with her family. My mom lives in Scarboro, ME. My dad just passed away in July. My cat's name is Molly. I lost Flynn, my other cat, in July. I visit Doolin Ireland every year, as I've gotten to know many of the people there. I have close friends in Germany and California, who in both cases I've been able to visit with in the last month. I speak a fair amount of German. I have a Saint Patrick's party every year. It serves as a meeting point for my local friends as well as for those from all over the country and world. I consider Jon Stewart the most trusted newsman in America. I love baseball, and the Red Sox. I've been to about 3/4 of all the baseball stadiums. If I was commissioner, I'd banish the DH. I see it both ways, but pure baseball is a better game. Being a safety guy, I'd get rid of those maple bats too. I consider Guinness and Warsteiner to be excellent beers but I'll gladly drink a Bud Light. My hobby is col- lecting hotel pens because you don't actually accumulate them. My other hobby, for which I don't have time, is computer programming. I fear that was way more than any neighbor will want to know, but for those interested, there you have it. It you've read to this point, and you'd like to tell me a bit about your background, you're invited to my St Paddy's day party, 13 March, 3p, house and backyard.
  10. 10. Hey!!! What’s the big deal? What’s really bothering you? ITR 12/15/09 A resident of Stedman street finds themselves in the local neighborhood convenient store sparking up a conversation over the latest “Hot Topic” of the Westlands. “Why don’t you just leave the guy alone and stop bothering him” a voice cries out within the store “ Do you know how many illegal businesses are running out of houses in Chelmsford?” Illegal businesses are running out of houses in Chelmsford? Say it ain’t so Joe ! Not here! We are untouchable by those kind of things. Never has an illegal home business been run in town, never has a bad 40B project has been developed in town where the developer makes out far better than those affected by his project. Never has political connections interferred with common sense decisions. No,no, not here. 12 Stedman street is an “Isolated incident”, at least that is what we are told by some who run the town. Yet in the same town I have a former selectman telling me one of the biggest problems during his selectmen term was illegal home businesses. “We have not got the people or the money to properly enforce the town’s zoning laws.” I have heard over the last two months. Then why have them? Because they look good on the books? These kind of things may not seem like a big deal and tend not to bother the people so much who do not actually live in the town but try to make and change the rules. But to those who do actually live on the street or in the neighborhood where it is happening, it can bother them quite a bit. Such as when I asked the residents, “What bothers you about the 12 Stedman business situation?” Hi Roy, I think the aspect of the 12 Stedman St situation that con- cerns me the most is the possibility that a company could move in next door tomorrow. We chose to live in the Westlands, in part, because it is a residential neighborhood. The RB zoning designation is the town's assurance that I can trust my neighbors to be neigh- bors. But at 12 Stedman St, a business moved in, with full knowl- edge of the fact that it was a residential neighborhood, and
  11. 11. began operating in violation of the zoning code. Now they are asking to be allowed to continue to violate the zoning for an indefinite period of time. They are not proposing to comply with the terms of the special permit; they are asking for spot zoning. If this precedent is allowed, I don't know why my neighbor on Chelmsford St couldn't decide to be a bakery or nail salon tomorrow. Even if I moved to a quieter part of town, what assurance would I have that a business wouldn't move in next door? Zoning protects residents, but only if it's enforced. Mike Rigney 3 Sunset Av. ------------------------------------ What bothers me is how he went about the situation. He moved in, started his business knowing that he is violating laws of the town and just didn't care about and he did the same thing in Lowell. He didn't have any intentions of ever filing for a variance and is only doing so because he got caught. Steadman St is residential and needs to stay that way. Thanks, Amelia Davis 17 Steadman St ----------------------------------- Hi Roy What bothers me the most about this issue is, we all live here in a residential neighborhood with our Family's. We bought into what is zoned for families to live in , and someone can come in and just know- ingly ignore all the rules, and possibly benefit. We all want a safe place to allow our Children and Grand children play. That is what we bought and that is why society has rules to live by. Gary Valcourt 16 Steadman st ----------------------------------- My concern with the situation on Stedman Street is that our residential neighborhoods remain just that - places for our residents to reside. Nobody should be allowed to move into a residential zone then run a business beyond our zoning regulations. If the zoning regulations are changed due to the request of any business owner we would be setting a precedent that Chelmsford is a town that allows spot zoning and that is very lenient with our regulations. I am very much opposed to setting that kind of precedent. The fact that he purchased the property knowing he was not going to abide by our zoning regulations does infuriate me. Even further reason to stand firm on the zoning by-laws. I would not want my neighbors to run businesses that occupy over 25% of their property. Jodi O'Neill 22 Hitchinpost Road
  12. 12. Hi Roy, I have lived on Stedman Street over 34 years and during that time have seen many changes within our town. My concerns for the property of 12 Stedman Street are many. I can recall when the property was being used as storage for the school dept. and when it was converted to a single family home. The home has always been occupied by families with children. It was unfortunate that the prior owner had his prop- erty foreclosed upon but as we are all well aware we were in and still are in a recession. The current owner readily admits that he purchased the property knowing it was zoned as a residential property to expand his business to save money. There is only one bylaw that he currently is in compliance of and that is the expansion of the current buildings. The Westland's neighborhood has faced many challenges through the years. The razing of homes to build a daycare. The proposal of 42 40B units of housing on less than 2 1/2 acres of land that would have been the largest development per unit area in the town. We were not opposed to 40B housing but asked the de- veloper to build family housing with less units that would have fit within our neighborhood. The expansion of the current daycare center and supporting the variance for parking so that the trees in the rear of the building would not be taken down. The proposal of a strip mall on residential property that would have changed the zoning and expanded business in a residential neighborhood. We live on one of the most heavily traveled roads within town because of the proximity to our highways and the City of Lowell. We live at the second most dangerous intersection in town and have had many ac- cidents including three deaths. The special permit would bring more traffic to our area on a daily basis in a residential area. The residents within our town must realize this special permit if passed could have them facing the same situation with businesses occupying the home next door and changing their neighborhood forever. Please come forward and let our town officials know how you feel about business in a residential neighborhood because someday you may be faced with the same proposal as the Westland's Neighborhood is now facing. Debbie Dery Town Meeting Rep. Precinct 6 ----------------------------------- I'd like to start by saying that I agree with all the concerns that have been raised. They are all just as im- portant as the next one. What really gets my goat is the willingness of the Town Government to allow this business to continue even though it was in violation of the zoning laws. What is the purpose of regula- tions, policies and laws if we are not willing to enforce them. What message does it send to the people of Chelmsford. You should feel safe in your own town, not just from a public safety perspective, but from any threat that compromises your level of comfortable living. I have been in Chelmsford for 40 years, I felt that way until just the past few years. We get national attention on a gift bazaar that should have been settled the day that it came up. Why did we allow it to progress to the point it did? We didn't have the backbone to make a tough decision. Then when confronted bythe media, the people responsible go in hiding. If 12 Steadman St is granted this variance then I recommend that every household apply for the same vari- ance. What grounds could the town deny you? They will set a precedence that will never be able to be controlled. Again, I agree with everyone's assessment, but I am boggled by the way our Town Govern- ment has kissed this man's rear end. I'm just thankful that the Chelmsford Government wasn't around back in 1776. We might never have gotten started on our road to freedom and equality. Wouldn't want to upset the apple cart, would we. PAUL DAVIS 17 Steadman St ----------------------------------- The issue with 12 Stedman Street is that it can and will set a precedent for businesses to purchase a home and run a business that should be in a business zoned area in the middle of a neighborhood. You expect your neighbors to be individuals who purchase a home because they want to live in the neighbor- hood, not because they want to have a business there. In the future, other businesses could use 12 Sted- man St. as the rational to grant special permits and variances for their business, thus jeopardizing the very idea of zoning within the town. Before we realize it, we could have businesses scattered throughout every neighborhood, particularly those more travelled residentially zoned streets such as North Road, Dalton Road, Boston Road, Chelmsford St, Old Westford Road etc. Joanne Anderson 6 Evergreen Street Town Meeting Rep. Precinct 6
  13. 13. What I am most concerned about the 12 Stedman Street Variance application is the number of outside (non-resident) employees that this applicant is requesting. As I understand it, the applicant is requesting that up to three outside employees be allowed to drive to the 12 Stedman Street home and work at that lo- cation. If that were to be allowed by the town via a formal Variance issued by the ZBA, it would essentially be au- thorizing a full fledged business in a residential zone, and that is not in the best interests of either this spe- cific Stedman Street neighborhood or of the town of Chelmsford as a whole. Respectfully, Tom Christiano TM Representative 6 Drew Circle ------------------------------------------------------ Several things concern us about this situation. First, we don’t want to live in a mixed use (residential and business) location and having a business operating next door to us devalues our property. The precedent that the requested special permit and variances would set opens the door for similar requests; and on what basis could the town then refuse these requests and how would they limit the type of business that might set up shop next to anyone, anywhere in town. We feel it’s important to maintain the character and integrity of our neighborhoods by enforcing, not bending zoning regulations – across the entire town. In addition to these pragmatic concerns, we are dismayed that the situation forces us to go against a neigh- bor whom we feel is actually a decent person. In 23 years on Steadman St., we have never had an issue with a neighbor that couldn’t be discussed, negotiated, and resolved. But there isn’t any way to reconcile putting the business interests of one individual ahead of the greater good of the entire neighborhood, and ultimately the entire community. Dorothy Skelley 14 Stedman Street ------------------------------------------------------------ Roy, My concern is two-fold: 1. The impact that such a biz would have on the Westlands neighborhood. 2. The precedent that permitting such a biz would create for other neighborhoods across town. Eric Dahlberg 344 Boston Road cell: (617) 461-2737 Board of Selectmen --------------------------------------------------------------
  14. 14. Hi Roy - I have made my opposition to the granting of any special permits and/or variances for 12 Stedman Street well known from numerous communications with concerned citizens to my appearance on Politically Incorrect. It is inconceivable to me that a businessman could spend significant monies to purchase real es- tate knowing that he intended to use the premises for his business, that the zoning did not permit his in- tended use and nonetheless fail to obtain the necessary permits prior to consummating the purchase. Mr. O'Brien has decided that he can play by a different set of rules than apply to the rest of us. He managed to run his business for 8 months under the radar during which time he has avoided paying personal property taxes to the town that all other businesses pay on business equipment and other assets. Had it not been for the vigilance of neighbors, the business would still be operating in violation of the town's by-laws. Now that he has been caught, he is acting like a remorseful child who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. I have reviewed his special permit application as well as the documents he submitted with the application. It seems to me that he violated the terms of his permit from the City of Lowell by employing more than one non-family members. I don't have confidence that he will abide by any restrictions that the town might impose upon him in conjunction with the granting of any variance or special permit. I am also very concerned by the precedent that might be established as well as the neighborhood creep factor should the permit be granted. I hope that the ZBA denies the special permit and I will do everything in my power to demonstrate my opposition to the granting of the permit and/or variance. Jon H. Kurland 17 Mansfield Drive Finance Committee Member Candidate for Selectman Precinct 5 Town Meeting Representative Chelmsford Planning Board meeting 12-9-09 Review and recomendations of 12 Stedman Street Application for the ZBA CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
  15. 15. Selectmen want more information before approaching voters By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Dec 09, 2009 Chelmsford — The town can not feasibly address its long-term needs and repair both the Center Fire Station and the Richardson Road Department of Public Works facility without turning to the voters for a debt exclusion, says Town Manager Paul Cohen. But Cohen has little to no support from Selectmen. The board told Cohen at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 7 that they need more hard number costs Paul and additional information on the state of the town’s facilities from the Cohen town’s Permanent Building Committee before they can consider turning to the voters for a debt exclusion on the town projects for the second time in less than a year. “You will never get there without a debt exclusion,” said Cohen. “There is no way you are going to meet the town’s long-term needs within the levy. There is no alternative.” Selectmen were told last week by Cohen and Gary Persichetti, the town’s director of public facilities and member of the town’s Permanent Building Committee, that the best long-term investment is asking voters for a $4.5 million debt exclusion to build a 13,000-square foot, pre-engineered, three-bay fire station at Wil- son and Chelmsford streets; and a $5 million debt exclusion to purchase the Alpha Road building and relo- cate the DPW in a phased in approach. But Selectmen were less than enthusiastic last week about returning putting the debt exclusions on the ballot for April’s election. Cohen said Monday that his only option is to explore how much time the town can bid on the two projects, including the Center Fire Station’s deteriorating floor. Cohen said despite a defeat from voters at a special election in October, the problems surrounding the town facilities have not gone away and may eventually force the town to close the Center Fire Station. Persechetti and Cohen brought the board a $1.25 million, two-year option to remedy the Center Fire Sta- tion, last week. But they said the $600,000 price tag for replacing the apparatus bay floor and the $645,000 needed to renovate facility systems, would not solve other structural problems. Cohen said this week that he cannot see putting $600,000 of work into the current North Road fire station. While Selctmen said they are not saying a firm no to the option of going to the voters, they need more in- formation and hard numbers from officials. “I think we’re all looking for the same thing here,” said Selectman Eric Dahlberg. “I just wanted to get a little bit more detail.” Selectman Sean Scanlon said public safety and the wellbeing of its employees are the top priorities in his mind and he would rather not jeopardize the town’s response times by closing a fire station. Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte said at the currently the option of putting the decision to the voters is off the table, but she would Clare reconsider it if there is more comprehensive information pro- Jeannotte vided. “I think we need to find a solution to these,” said Jeannotte, adding that she would like a draft report from the Permanent Building Committee as soon as possible. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO CLIP OF DISCUSSION
  16. 16. Could Center Fire Station close? By Rita Savard, 12/11/2009 CHELMSFORD -- The Center Fire Station might close before the town sinks $600,000 into its crumbling floor, said Town Manager Paul Cohen as officials wrestle over the next move for two aging municipal buildings. The Board of Selectmen and Cohen stand divided over the issue two months after voters rejected spending $12 million to build a new fire-station headquarters and $13 million to relocate the DPW to a larger existing facility on Alpha Road. Selectmen told Cohen last week they didn't support putting another debt exclusion on the ballot. But Cohen told the board Monday that he "can't stomach" a $600,000 investment in a building that's become too small to support the town's fire operations. "It's just not a sound investment," Cohen said. "If need be, we'll close the Center Fire Station." Selectman Sean Scanlon said he had a problem with that move, especially since voters spoke clearly in October. Shutting down the station would only pose a greater safety risk by increasing response times to emergency calls, Scanlon said, adding that fixing the floor came down to public safety for firefighters. "Public safety is a priority in my mind, regardless of whether or not we think it's a financial investment," Scanlon said. Cohen said he was trying to avoid paying out more money down the road, arguing that the answer to fixing both buildings didn't lie within the town's capital budget because the work involves more than just repairing a floor. "You'll never get there without a debt exclusion," Cohen said. "The town had to go to the ballot more than once for the school projects. There's no way to meet the town's long-term capital needs without it." Cohen estimated the station would need another $680,000 in repairs to keep the building up to par with health and safety codes. The town can't wait another 10 years to address the needs of the two buildings, Cohen added, when there will only be more buildings in need of repairs, including some of the town's schools. "The more we back it out, people are going to be more alarmed as costs go up," Cohen said. Selectman Clare Jeannotte asked Cohen to deliver a report on the full picture of capital and building needs for the town, which was the original charge of the Permanent Building Committee when it was created about a year ago. Jeannotte suggested that if the committee could provide a full inventory of the town's buildings, it might help vot- ers get a better grasp of what the town's long- and short-term needs are. Selectman George Dixon also said having the report would be beneficial. Cohen said the Building Committee, which is down two members, has been working on the report. But the com- mittee had poured much of its time into researching and investigating options for the fire station and DPW in the months leading up to the October vote. Last week, Cohen proposed two new debt-exclusion questions for the April town election ballot. One included asking voters for a $4.5 million debt exclusion to build a 13,000-square-foot station at Wilson and Chelmsford streets. The other was a $5 million debt exclusion to purchase the Alpha Road building and relocate the DPW in phases. Jeannotte said that if the town can't afford the building repairs without an override, then having the status on the rest of the buildings in town might help lend some urgency to the situa- tion. "Give us something to point to on this blank piece of paper," Jeannotte said. Cohen said he would try to have the report ready by the end of February.
  17. 17. Town seeking housing grant By Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer GateHouse News Service Dec 08, 2009 Chelmsford — The town ready to make a second attempt to win a state grant that would help some struggling homeown- ers make needed repairs. Community Development Director Evan Belansky told selectmen he is looking for feedback from residents and town officials while he works on submitting the town’s application. Monday night marked the first hear- ing on the grant. If authorized, the money will provide financial aid for low- to moderate-income households to fix everything from health and safety hazards to outright code violations. It could help some with lead paint removal. Oth- ers could address sanitary code violations and still others could improve the weather-resistance of their homes or remove unwanted, unused underground heating oil tanks. “The primary focus would be weatherization such as new roofs and new windows,” said Belansky. According Belansky, Chelmsford suffers when applying for the grant because there is no single, concen- trated area of concern. Rather, the housing problems are scattered across the town map. This year’s application identifies three areas that are estimated for eligibility. Belansky said the North Chelmsford target area includes neighborhoods contiguous to Freeman Lake and mill housing neighboring Vinal Square. Also included are the historic Westlands neighborhood and East Chelmsford. After failing last year because the application lacked specifics, Belansky rolled out a list of Community De- velopment priorities including updating strategic planning documents such as the Master Plan and the Af- fordable Housing Plan. The meeting with Selectmen marked the first of two public hearings on the process. Belansky said he hopes residents will speak out, bolstering the argument that there is a need in town. Monday night, no one showed up to participate. The grant application is part of an ongoing effort to participate in regional solutions to housing issues, said Belansky. In 2006, Chelmsford joined forces with Billerica, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury and Westford to form the Merrimack Valley Regional Housing Consortium. After successfully winning a one-time $150,000 grant for first-time homebuyers in 2004, the consortium has been focusing on other grant opportunities. This year, Chelmsford and Billerica are applying for the grant, with Billerica serving as the leading commu- nity. Belansky said the total value of the grant for the two towns would be approximately $900,000, with approxi- mately $30,000 loaned to each of the 12 awarded Chelmsford homes. The program will operate a 0 per- cent deferred payment loans. Under the program, the amount owed on the loan will decrease annually over a 15-year period. The grant is designed to operate for 12 to 18 months, said Belansky.
  18. 18. REPEAL 40B petition is now on it’s way to the November 2010 ballot as the first major hurdle is cleared The ballot petition has obtained the necessary number of signatures.
  19. 19. Selectmen agree to continue Westlands 40B one last time Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 07.DEC.09 The proponents of a Westlands 40B have one more chance to present a revised proposal to the Board of Selectmen. After receiving a third request to continue the public hearing on the two-unit rental Westlands Place, a Local Initiative Program (LIP) 40B, the board agreed to continue the hearing until Jan. 11, 2010 with stipulations. “At that point we either hear progress from the proponent on this, or consider it with- drawn,” said Selectman Pat Wojtas. 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 foot, two-story dwelling on 12,000 square feet of upland. Access to the home was one of the issues abutters looked for the board to resolve. Developers said because of a sewer pumping station at the end of Fair Street, the only means of egress was a 200-foot driveway from Arlington Street. Under a LIP, a developer seeks an endorsement from the selectmen, which in theory encour- ages other boards to sign off on the project. ****************************************************************** Cell phone companies eye Chelmsford Country Club for tower locations Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter 04.DEC.09 Residents may soon have reception as clear as their view of the greens as officials pursue a couple of cellular tower proposals at the Chelmsford Country Club. “In the last six months, we’ve had two companies approach us about cell towers at the golf course,” said Town Manager Paul Cohen. The latest proposal, which Cohen shared with the Board of Selectmen this week, is for a 130- foot tower on the town-owned golf course. However, Cohen expects the communications com- panies would be willing to decrease the height of any tower. Selectmen agreed Cohen should follow up on the cell tower proposals “Pursue it a little,” said BOS Chairman Clare Jeannotte. --------------------------------------------------- Reader Opinions Clare Jeannotte DEC 04 • I oppose a cell tower at the golf course and stated such clearly in the meeting.
  20. 20. Dismal 2011 budget forecast in Chelmsford By Rita Savard, 12/15/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Bracing for another year of tightening the belt, town officials presented a dismal forecast last night for fiscal 2011, including more layoffs, and possible increases to school athletic and bus fees. Six months before the new fiscal year, the state is still wrestling with hefty budget deficits. For Chelmsford, that translates to a projected $1.4 million decrease in state aid, according to Town Manager Paul Cohen. "Over the past year we've taken a few hits, but as we look forward to (fiscal) 2011, things have not turned around," Cohen told selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee members. Although officials anticipate a hit in state aid, the town's fixed costs, including health insurance, pensions and spe- cial-education tuition, continue to rise. Out of the town's $98.6 million budget, $17.9 million goes toward employee benefits. The only way to balance the budget, Cohen said, will be further reductions in town services. For Chelmsford schools, that could require some of the deepest cuts to date, said Superintendent of Schools Donald Yeoman. Yeoman and School Business Manager Robert Cruikshank said that in order to present a budget with a zero per- cent increase for fiscal 2011, they'd have to slash $2 million. The $2 million increase in the school budget is due to fixed costs that include a $700,000 salary schedule step and degree increase for teachers, a $550,000 increase in special-education transportation and tuition, and $750,000 for 14.4 staff positions that were paid for this year by one-time federal stimulus funding. In order to balance its budget from 2008 to the present, the School Department has laid off 40 employees and in- stituted a $200 bus fee, as well as increases in athletic and activity fees. To deal with the projected $2 million deficit, Yeoman proposed cutting another 24 teachers and support personnel, one school administrator and two part-time nurses, as well as increasing the bus fee to $300, increasing activity fees to generate $50,000 and hiking athletic fees to bring in another $432,000. Parents now pay $300 for their students to play one sport, an additional $250 for the second sport and $200 for the third sport. "That's a pretty brutal proposal," said School Committee member Kathy Duffett. Instead of placing a bigger burden on taxpayers, School Committee member Nick DeSilvio suggested that Chelmsford officials join forces with other towns in pressuring the state to end mandates that communities no longer receive state aid to fund. "If you raise the athletic fees, a significant amount of students will totally drop out of the program so you won't see any revenue at all," DeSilvio said. Layoffs, Cohen added, haven't saved the town money. "It's almost at the point that we're paying more for unemployment that we would be for insurance," he said. Cohen said the town will have a clearer picture on state aid at the end of January when Gov. Deval Patrick re- leases his budget. Finance Committee member Jon Kurland said lawmakers can still offer cities and towns relief by changing laws to give municipalities authority over employee health care. "Unless they change that law, you're going to keep cutting jobs," Kurland said.
  21. 21. On The Border Coalition requests environmental review of asphalt plant GateHouse News Service Dec 08, 2009 Chelmsford — The Route 40 Clean Air Coalition has requested a state government environmental review of the proposed asphalt plant on Groton Road. The residents group filed a “fail safe” petition requesting the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs require a MEPA review of the controversial proposal. MEPA review of this project will help to protect the environment by coordinating the efforts of project propo- nents, town officials and concerned residents in addressing environmental issues. The project has the po- tential to affect air quality, noise, ground and surface water quality, vernal pool habitat and priority habitat for rare species. These environmental concerns are inter-related and the most efficient way to address the issues is to approach them through the MEPA process. The Route 40 Clean Air Coalition and its experts believe the project should trigger MEPA review because: Important resource areas on the property include wetlands, two certified vernal pools, priority habitat for rare species and estimated habitat for rare wildlife. This area is shown on a map posted outside of the Westford planning and engineering office. This project proposes to discharge stormwater from a land use with higher potential pollutant load near outstanding resource waters. Approximately two acres of land within Priority Habitat for Rare Species and Estimated Habitat for Rare Wildlife is proposed to be disturbed. “We believe that this project falls within the bounds of MEPA jurisdiction because of its potential to harm the surrounding environment including outstanding resource waters, ground water, priority habitat of rare species, estimated habitat of rare wildlife and air quality. These environmental con- cerns are relevant to the subject matter of more than one required state permit.” said Alisa Nakashian-Holsberg, Route 40 Clean Air Coalition member. The Route 40 Clean Air Coalition is a grassroots group of Westford and Chelmsford neighbors concerned with the impacts of the proposed asphalt plant. They can be found on the Internet at and at PO Box 1240 Westford 01886. ******************************************************************
  22. 22. Keeping children safe from offenders By Laurie Myers The Lowell Sun 11/15/2009 We hear the horror stories about children like Jessica Lunsford, abducted from her bedroom, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender in Florida. We see the photos of kids like 12-year-old Alyssa Presti mur- dered in her bedroom by level 3 sex offender Michael Bizanowicz after he brutally raped her mother in the living room of their Woburn home. And Massachusetts will never, and should never forget Jeffrey Curley, who was lured by "friends" with the promise of a new bike, only to be brutally raped and murdered. The af- termath is always the same, our hearts break for the grieving families, people become outraged and others try to convince themselves that it could never happen in their communities or worse, to their own children. All of these cases have two common elements, the first is, the victims were targeted to be sexually abused and the second is, the perpetrators are repeat offenders who previously served little or no time in prison for their crimes. Realizing this was a problem, the Massachusetts Legislature, led by Sen. Steven Baddour, Attorney Gen- eral Martha Coakley, all 11 district attorneys, victims, including Mark Lunsford, father of Jessica Lunsford and victims' advocates came together to support the Massachusetts version of "Jessica's Law" named after Jessica Lunsford. The bill called for mandatory minimum sentences for the most heinous crimes against children and was signed into law on July 24, 2008. Some criticized the legislation as not being tough enough, but in the end we all agreed that the legislation would bring us all closer to our common goal, keep- ing children and our communities safe by holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes. The passage of this law was a true testament to how things should work up on Beacon Hill. Understanding the importance of the new law, District Attorney Gerry Leone, along with Assistant District Attorney Michael Chinman charged Robert Giglio, a repeat sex offender, with aggravated rape of a child and Indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, under the new offenses created by Jessica's law, requiring a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. On Oct. 26, 2009, Giglio became the first person suc- cessfully convicted in Massachusetts after he was found guilty by a jury in Woburn Superior Court. He was sentenced by Judge Bruce R. Henry to 15 to 20 years in prison, 15 years mandatory. We will never know exactly how many children have been sexually abused because sexual abuse still re- mains the most under-reported crime in the United States. What we do know is that society must take these cases seriously by holding known perpetrators accountable. We've learned too many hard lessons from the above cases and recent cases in the news, to believe that sex offenders stop at one victim, or that "rehabili- tation" is effective. The reality is that the only way our society can ever be fully protected is by keeping of- fenders in prison and away from children. A heartfelt thank you to all of the victims who courageously joined this effort, the lawmakers and the leaders who joined them, and those who work diligently on a daily basis to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Laurie Myers is president of Community VOICES, a victim's advocacy organization, former rape crisis counselor and resident of Chelmsford.
  23. 23. Steps & Spokes: A good first step By Randy Peterman GateHouse News Service Dec 09, 2009 Chelmsford — With the opening of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in September, the town has seen an explosion of people out walking and riding bikes. It has been a rewarding experience to see so many people enjoying our town's new facil- ity. The next step is to provide more bicycling and walking access to the rail trail. The Town of Chelmsford Master Plan Committee has been meeting over the past year to map out the future of growth in Chelmsford for the next 10 years. The BPAC has made a number of recommendations that we feel will make Chelmsford a better place to live, work and play. One of the key recommendations is that the town desig- nates certain roads as bike routes, and that sidewalks be built to provide pedestrian paths. Bicycle routes Bicycle routes would accomplish two goals: They would supplement the newly opened Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, providing a way for people to access the trail without driving to one of the few parking spots along the trail and they would provide a guide for people traveling or commuting on bikes who need help getting through the town or to locations in the town. The advantages of designating roads as bike paths are numerous, and they include: Routing cyclists around high traffic areas. Motorists know where to expect cyclists. Bicyclists from out of town feel welcome, and know where to stop for lunch, a snack, or other shopping. Bike routes are relatively easy to establish; all that is needed are signs and an appropriate road. Many cycling clubs and individual riders have found the safest and most convenient routes for bicycles through town, and other routes are fairly easy to plan — a route from the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to Great Brook State Park, for instance. Pedestrian paths Pedestrian paths typically follow existing sidewalks, or are along roads slated for sidewalks in the future. Sidewalks are typically planned and installed along heavily walked areas in the town. Usually this means routes to schools have sidewalks first. Because sidewalks take more money than bike route signs, there is a long list of places the town would like to put sidewalks but cannot yet afford to do so. One of the responsibilities that the BPAC is taking on is helping the town find funding for sidewalks. Sidewalks: Provide a safe place for pedestrians to walk. mprove property values. Produce a tighter-knit community. Reduce our reliance on automobiles. Improve physical fitness by encouraging walking. Funding for sidewalks is typically available from local, state or federal budgets. With the current budget crunches it is difficult to get funding for these projects. The state sponsored program, Safe Routes to Schools, is one potential source of money. The most promising avenue of funding appears to be grants from various government agencies, and the BPAC is exploring ways to help the town receive grants for this purpose. The BPAC believes that improving access to safe bicycling and walking routes is one important way to make our community a much better place. Please visit our Web site at Randy Peterman was a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from July 2008 to November 2009. He can be reached at
  24. 24. EXTRA EXTRAS Kathy Duffett and Tom Christiano would like to invite you to the Winter "Support Our Town" Coffee at the Java Room on Thursday, December 17th, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Please stop by and join us... for just a minute... or for the full two hours, and talk about what's happening in our wonderful town and to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. ******************************************** 7th Annual 'Night of 1000 Kicks' To benefit the preservation of North Town Hall Alpha Tae Kwon Do Academy of Chelmsford is encouraging you to get fit, get healthy and raise funds to preserve our town hall! The Academy is holding its 7th Annual 'Night of a 1000 Kicks' fundraising event December 30th from 4:00 - 6:00PM. Each year, Alpha Tae Kwon Do identifies a candidate for fundraising and this year has decided to support the preservation of North Town Hall in North Chelmsford. Some of the organizations that have benefited from the Night of 1000 Kicks fundraiser are the construction of Ronan McElligott’s Boundless Playground at Ed- wards Beach in Westford, Saint Joseph’s Breast Cancer Care Center in Nashua, NH, Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Alpha Tae Kwon Do welcomes requests for benefitting recipiants. They are encouraging adults and kids to get ready to kick their way to health and improvements. Please contact 978-251-1331 or email if you would like more information.
  25. 25. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling: How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages boxes, or bags! And he puzzled and puzzed, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more." - Dr.Seuss It's A Wonderful Life - The Lost Ending CLICK HERE
  26. 26. In-Town Report NEWS LINKS Lowell Sun Chelmsford Independent Kevin Zimmerman’s Chelmsford Mass News ROY EARLEY TOM CHRISTIANO Town Meeting Representative Precinct 6 Town Meeting Representative Precinct 9