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Itr july 10 2011


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In-Town Report July 10 2011

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Itr july 10 2011

  1. 1. In -Town Report July 10 2011
  2. 2. TRUTH or CONSEQUENCESAs Town Moderator, I am essentially prohibited from taking a position on any issue at TownMeeting and I also avoid taking a public position on any political issue outside of Town Meet-ing. However, I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect the Chelmsford Town Charter whichI believe is being seriously "perverted" by the current recall effort and so, I cannot remainsilent... After much thought, I must speak out.The Charter of the Town of Chelmsford has no provision to fill vacancies on the Board of Se-lectmen other than a "special election". Therefore, a successful recall of the four selectmen onthe Tuesday, August 2nd ballot may have serious unintended consequences and at the veryleast, it will require yet another special election in mid-October at an additional $20,000 ex-pense.Furthermore, if the recall election is successful, town government at the executive level will beshut down for up to (3) three months since there will be no selectmen quorum to carry on thebusiness that usually comes before the Board... such as, but not limited to, granting licenses,awarding contracts, making policy decisions and even holding dog hearings. In fact, the War-rant for Town Meeting may not be adequately prepared in time and may force a major alter-ation or even the possibility of a cancellation or postponement of Town Meeting scheduled forOctober 17th. This can be very serious since Town Meeting is the ultimate governing body ofthe Town of Chelmsford.I believe that the recall provision in the Town Charter was intended to be implemented as atruly "grass roots" effort by the citizens of Chelmsford for egregious acts, misdemeanors orcrimes when committed by elected town officials. I do not believe that the recall provision wasintended to be perverted by the infusion of unlimited funds and professional signature solici-tors. Nor do I believe that it was meant to be a tool to remove elected officials because of theirvotes, legally taken, when we disagree with them. We have a time tested mechanism to re-move elected officials when we disagree... its called an annual election and its held on thefirst Tuesday of every April.The voters of Chelmsford must take this recall very seriously and conscientiously weigh all thereasons given for this recall. The voters must also examine all the evidence and not beswayed by conjecture. They must separate fact from fiction and disregard rumors and half-truths. Study the intent of the Charter and take a hard look at the underlying intent of this wellfinanced vigilante effort being laid out before you. We cant let unlimited funds determine theresult and we certainly cannot let "big money" drive our town government at any level. Theconsequences are unthinkable, undesirable, unbearable and obscene. Vote your conscience...but do your homework first.Richard E. DeFreitas
  4. 4. Tempers flare at recall meeting By Rita Savard, 06/24/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- Emotions ran high last night as residents questioned town officials about their involve-ment in a controversial 9 North Road building project.The fate of four selectmen -- George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Jon Kurland and Pat Wojtas -- lies in the handsof voters Aug. 2, when any or all can be removed from office in a special recall election.Chelmsford businessman Roland Van Liew spearheaded the recall, investing $90,000 to push forward thefirst such election in town history. Van Liew is accusing the selectmen of failing to uphold the law for nottaking an alleged violation of a preservation restriction to court.Town Manager Paul Cohen, along with Selectmen Dixon, Hanson, Kurland and Jim Lane, fielded votersquestions during a public information session hosted by the anti-recall group, Choose Chelmsford.Van Liew was invited to participate in the forum but declined to attend, calling it a group strategy to attackhim personally.The discussion opened with one resident asking what the recall was for.The building in question is a two-story, 15,494-square-foot office building, which will eventually house med-ical, dental and law offices for the Eliopoulos family. The two-acre parcel was purchased from EasternBank by Michael Eliopoulos in April 2009.Michael Eliopoulos is the father of former Selectman Philip Eliopoulos.The controversy started when the Eliopouloses filed plans to construct a building on the site. ChelmsfordDentist Michael Sargent, whose practice overlooks the site, filed a lawsuit, claiming a preservation restric-tion created in 1978 blocked development on the land.The Eliopouloses had received approval from the Historic District Commission, the Conservation Commis-sion and the Planning Board.But several residents came out against the project -- some charging that backroom deals had taken placeto benefit the Eliopouloses -- including the last three surviving members from the 1978 Board that createdthe restriction.Former Selectmen John Carson, Paul Hart and Joe Shanahan blasted their successors last July for nottaking more action to stop the project.Last night, Kurland, who voted against the North Road project, said it was ultimately a land court judgesruling that persuaded Dixon and Hansons yes votes.Judge Gordon Piper denied an injunction to halt the buildings construction last year, adding in his narrativethat the wording of the restriction allowed up to 55 percent of structures in the area."The restriction does not bar all development but regulates new construction," Kurland said. construction,Kurland said at the time, he felt Piper wanted the Board of Selectmen to exercise its authority over thematter.After weighing reports from the other town boards, the advice of town counsel and Piper, Hanson andDixon didnt see a violation.Kurland, who voted against it, said even though he didnt agree with his colleagues, no one violated thelaw.Town Meeting Representative Michael Combs wasnt convinced.
  5. 5. Philip Eliopoulos was serving as Chairman of the Board of Selectman in 2009, and was also acting as hisfathers attorney.Combs said it has been well documented that Philip Eliopoulos knew about his family wanting to acquirethe land as early as 2008."Should a selectman disclose that infomation to his collegaues?" collegaues?Kurland stressed that it was private land and he would not inform his colleagues about purchasing a parceleither."But this wasnt just any piece of property," Combs said. "It was behind the fire station." property, station.Town Manager Cohen said he and former Fire Station Committee Chairman Pat Maloney were pursuing aportion of the two acres once they learned the Eliopouloses were trying to buy it.Cohen said that being well aware of the conflict of interest laws, and that Philip Eliopoulos was soon step-ping down form the Board, he did not inform him that the town was looking into purchasing a piece of theland.In the end, former owners, Eastern Bank, did not want to subdivide the land. The Board of Selectmen,Cohen added, was not interested in buying the entire parcel, which would have included the historic Emer-son House that was in need of costly repairs.Resident Linda McLain didnt think that was decision for Cohen or the board to make."Why did they feel they didnt have some responsibility to go back to the citizens of thetown and ask them how they felt about this?" McLain asked. this?The story, she added, seems to have changed again and again as evidenced in the newspaper.Selectman Lane, who is not part of the recall as he wasnt a member of the Board at the time, said the costto repair the Emerson House alone would have put the price well over the $480,000 the Eliopouloses paidfor the land.Susan Sidel, who moved back to Chelmsford after living in New York this spring, said she was shockedwhen she learned about the controversy to recall four town officials over a private piece of land behind abank drive-through and parking lot."I cant believe thats what this kerfuffle is about," she said, adding that at first she thought the about,building was going up on the town common. "Who wants to sit at a pond and watch people drivethrough a bank?" bank?For years, Dale Strein said he and his children, and now his grandchildren, had enjoyed sitting by the pondand watching the ducks and geese."We werent watching the bank," he said. "Its a nice peaceful park that looks really bank,spectacular in autumn." autumn.Town Meeting Representative Glenn Thoren asked the officials if they knew why they were being recalled.Kurland voted against the North Road project and Wojtas, Thoren added, wasnt on the Board at the time.After some hesitation, Hanson, trying to answer the question, said, "I dont know." know.
  6. 6. McClure: Vote Your ConscienceA letter to the editor from Richard McClure.June 24, 2011Letter to the Editor,With a single question, Chelmsford resident Michael Combs, caused apanel of Chelmsford Selectman and the town manager, Paul Cohen, tobecome completely unglued and left babbling incoherently before“neutral” moderator, Warren Shaw, eventually drove Combs away fromthe microphone.The question was quite simple; Mr. Combs merely asked that eachSelectman on the panel be immediately polled as to “was PhilipEliopoulos wrong to withhold his knowledge of the pending purchaseby his father of 9 North Road from his fellow board members forseveral months while he (Eliopoulos) was a sitting member of thesame board of Selectmen?” Mr. Combs had previously qualified hisquestion to make it even more simple to answer by reminding thepanel that he wasn’t seeking a legal opinion, nor was he seeking an“ethics” opinion; he merely wanted to know whether each Selectmanfacing recall thought Eliopoulos’ failure to inform was “wrong.”The panel’s response was the only “unscripted” response of theevening and nearly caused the Selectmen and Town Manager to go into anaphylactic shock. As if on cueand with no prodding from the panel, “independent” moderator, Shaw, handedly pulled from the dais thealleged “clearing” letter from the State Ethics Commission while the panel attempted to compose them-selves. The moderator then read the entire letter as if that would cause Mr. Combs to return to his seat;Mr. Combs was unmoved and calmly repeated his question and again emphasized that he wished thepanel be polled as to their individual answers; “Did Philip Eliopoulos do anything wrong?”Recall candidate and attorney, Selectman Jon Kurland, rushed to the dais to give his “legal” opinion. Hethen made the foolish analogy that the Eliopoulos purchase of 9 North Road was a “private” deal and thathe (Eliopoulos as a sitting Selectman) had no more duty to report his father’s pending purchase to his fel-low board members than he would have to report his pending purchase of a new car.Town Manager Cohen then attempted to extricate Mr. Kurland’s foot from his mouth by adding his owntwisted version of alleged facts and ethical proprieties. Meanwhile Selectmen Dixon and Hanson sat mo-tionless with deer-in-the-headlight expressions; panic stricken that the question would soon be posed tothem. To this pro-recall election observer, the verbal and physical meltdown occurring on stage was com-parable to a Saturday Night Live skit.Following nearly ten minutes of unintelligible “spin” by the panel, the nearly entirely anti-recall audience ofless than 100 residents began to rumble and hiss at Comb’s persistence for a specific yes or no answer tohis question; “Was Philip Eliopoulos wrong to withhold this information from his fellow board members?”While the panel caught their collective breath , and still with no legitimate answer to the question posed,the clearly biased moderator drove Mr. Combs from the microphone insisting that other residents wishedto ask questions as well. What the Selectmen, Town Manager and 100 or so anti-recall residents refuse to acknowledge is that thisrecall election has little to do with the lost opportunity for a new fire station at 9 North Road and the wasteof over $100,000 in taxpayers’ money and the engineering studies it paid for to identify such an opportu-nity. It has little to do with the motives of any individuals who may have spearheaded the call for a recallelection. It has little to do with the interpretation of a preservation restriction. It has everything to do withthe Selectmen and Town Manager’s response (or lack thereof) to Mr. Combs’ simple question.Vote your conscience on August 2nd.Richard P. McClureChelmsford resident, voter and taxpayer
  7. 7. Stansfield: A Rebuttal to McClureA letter to the editor.June 24, 2011I was in attendance last night and have to disagree with Mr. McClure’s synopsis of events. Mr.Combs question was frankly inappropriate because there is no right answer. Nor does it haveanything to do with this Recall Election. Mr. Combs even reminded the panel that he wasn’tseeking a legal opinion, nor was he seeking an “ethics” opinion; he merely wanted to knowwhether each Selectman facing recall thought Eliopoulos’ failure to inform the other Boardmembers was “wrong.” How can one answer that without considering law and ethics? As forthe statement that the answer was the only one unscripted was absurd. There is no right orwrong answer. The selectmen base their decisions on the facts brought before them, not per-sonal feelings. What does Philip Eliopoulos’ actions have to do with this Recall of four Select-men?I also disagree that citing the letter from The State Ethics Commission was inappropriate. Itwas COMPLETELY appropriate! I could see that Mr. Combs did not understand that fact andasked the question again. “Did Philip Eliopoulos do anything wrong?” The question WAS an-swered and backed up by the documentation from Ethics.Mr. McClure’s statement that Mr. Kurland’s response was “foolish” was also inappropriate. Itwas factual and was reiterated several times throughout the evening. This was no more that aprivate land acquisition between private parties. And again, Ethics supports this fact.The “crowd” as Mr. McClure puts it, was not hissing at Mr. Combs, but his understandable con-fusion was encouraging more residents to come to the microphone for comment. It is the dutyof the Moderator to facilitate an orderly meeting for the fairness of all.In Mr. McClure’s final paragraph he states and I DO AGREE,“This Recall Election has little to do with the lost opportunity for a new fire station at 9 NorthRoad and the waste of over $100,000 in taxpayers’ money and the engineering studies it paidfor to identify such an opportunity. It has little to do with the motives of any individuals whomay have spearheaded the call for a recall election. It has little to do with the interpretation ofa preservation restriction.”But I do NOT agree with his final statement,“It has everything to do with the Selectmen and Town Manager’s response (or lack thereof) toMr. Combs’ simple question.”I would add that this Recall Election has everything to do with the fact that we are blessed as acommunity to have such wonderful volunteers that give countlesshours to serve Chelmsford with the best of intentions in all theirduties and decisions they are required to perform and make. Iam not just talking about the four Selectmen under Recall, but allthe elected and appointed Officials and the countless volunteersthat work to make this town run and also make Chelmsford one ofthe best communities in the Commonwealth. Mr. McClure mayhave to make a controversial decision in the near future and I ex-pect he would also keep the best intentions for the town in theforefront of his mind and base his decision on the facts pre-sented. I include him as one of these individuals.Respectfully,Colleen Stansfield
  8. 8. The Lowell Sun Political Column 6/26/11 by Rita SavardRECALL IS heating up Chelmsford, with residents on both sides of the issue demanding answers.A public information session Thursday night saw tempers flare from opponents and supporters. Selectmen Jon Kur-land, Matt Hanson and George Dixon, all listed on the recall ballot, stood their ground, saying no one did anythingwrong regarding the controversial 9 North Road building project.Former Selectman Philip Eliopoulos was a sitting selectman in 2009 and also serving as attorney for his father,Michael Eliopoulos, for the purchase and sale of the land.Resdient Michael Combs asked selectmen if they thought what Philip Eliopoulos did was wrong.The question touched a chord with Kurland, who vehemently defended his colleagues and referred to Land CourtJudge Gordon Pipers ruling, which influenced Dixon and Hansons decisions.Last year Piper rejected a request to halt construction on the building. A preservation restriction that some believedforbid construction on the parcel did leave room for 55 percent development, Kurland said.Kurland, who voted against the construction, said even though he didnt agree with Piper, he had to live with thejudges ruling and his colleagues decisions. Kurlands name still appears on the recall ballot.Hanson was the only other selectmen to answer Combs, saying he didnt believe Eliopoulos was wrong.Town officials maintained that the land wasnt public open space,that it was private property owned by Eastern Bank, and that the Eliopoulos family had a right to purchase privateproperty.Combs argued the land in question, behind the towns Center Fire Station, wasnt just any piece of property.Bill Dalton, also a former selectman known for butting heads with Eliopoulos while they served on the board together,called Roland Van Liew a "coward" for not coming to the meeting and answering residents questions in person. Dal-tons daughter, Stefani Bush, who co-chairs the anti-recall group Choose Chelmsford, said if Eliopoulos was involvedin any wrongdoing, her father would have been the first to hold his feet to the fire.Van Liew initiated the recall and has declined every offer by town officials, local media and cable access talk shows todebate the issues in a public forum.Town officals arent the only targets of Van Liews mailings. Recently he has accused The Sun offailing to contact him for interviews and of inviting him to debate on a "stacked panel."The Sun has reached out to Van Liew for comment on every story. In a recent story about theCheating Chelmsford website, Van Liew threatened to sue a reporter for associating him with thewebsite and expressed his anger for being contacted at home. He demanded that he never becontacted at home again.Van Liew has been unresponsive to subsequent email requests for comment. He also rejected SUN Reporterseveral alternatives offered by Sun editors for a debate, including the option of having Van Liew Rita Savardand his attorney, Spencer Kimball, discussing their position on video, in a separate interview fromtown officials.ANOTHER ACT in the recall drama this week was the public information session being "moderated" by WCAP hostWarren Shaw. Some questioned Shaws ability to be neutral since he has publicly disclosed his opinions on the recallissue.Bush said Choose Chelmsford did reach out to League of Women Voters moderator Ellen Harde of Westford. Hardewas unable to attend, Bush said. Once Van Liew declined an invitation, Bush said the group took who was available.If Van Liew had accepted, Bush said Choose Chelmsford would have secured a different moderator.Following a question from Combs about whether selectmen thought Philip Eliopoulos was wrong, Shaw started read-ing a personal letter from a state Ethics investigator to Eliopoulos.Combs said that wasnt his question.Shaw ended the forum by saying he never knew any Chelmsford officials who would willfully hurt their town or breakthe law.
  9. 9. Chelmsford man challenges selectmen Alleges corruption, gets recall ballot June 27, 2011 By Ben Wolford, Globe Correspondent — In this town, it all depends on whom you believe.Roland Van Liew, 57, a businessman, describes the politics of Chelmsford, population 34,000, as a dis-turbing web of back-room dealers, steering development contracts for personal gain and funneling publicdollars into efforts to quash the truth.For those reasons, he directed $90,000 toward a rally for petition signatures, gaining enough to put fourtown selectmen on an Aug. 2 recall ballot.Those allegations are pure fiction, say the selectmen and members of a citizens group campaigning tostop Van Liew’s campaign, which they say is dividing the community and chilling the civic volunteerism thetown relies on.“We don’t even get a stipend in this town,’’ said Jon Kurland, one of the members of the Board of town,Selectmen who, along with George Dixon Jr., Patricia Wojtas, and Matt Hanson, face the first recall inChelmsford’s history.“We’re all volunteers,’’ Kurland said. “We’re not in this for the money. I’ve been an attorney volunteers,in this town for 34 years. My reputation is my life. This guy’s got an agenda, and he does -n’t care whose reputation he smears.’’ smears.Van Liew has crusaded for years against what he says is “corruption, graft, and cronyism,’’ trying cronyism,unsuccessfully last year to recall two members of the Planning Board, which oversees the use of Chelms-ford’s 22.5 square miles, southwest of Lowell.“People spend $90,000 on a Porsche, let’s say, and nobody bats an eye,’’ Van Liew, who eye,describes himself as an environmentalist, said last week. “But the town officials are saying that itmakes no sense to spend $90,000 to preserve democracy. It’s pretty funny.’’ funny.Van Liew has a litany of allegations against elected officials spanning nearly four years, none of them sub-stantiated by judges or formal investigations.For Van Liew, that only proves “state government has completely abdicated its responsibility,’’ responsibility,he said.Van Liew’s most recent corruption complaints originate from a land acquisition in which a selectman, PhilipEliopoulos, acted as attorney for his father’s firm in its purchase of a downtown parcel from a nearby bankbetween 2008 and 2009.The town had an interest in the land because the adjacent fire station needed repairs and could use theproperty for a new parking lot. A committee was formed to look at options, and at a March 2009 select-men’s meeting, they presented their recommendation: to build a new fire station somewhere else.The selectmen, including Eliopoulos, voted to accept the report.Van Liew says the evidence is glaring. Town officials say Van Liew is twisting language.
  10. 10. EDITORIAL Chelmsford recall: Private grudges in play July 6, 2011A recall petition is an important democratic tool, a way for voters toremove local politicians who have proven themselves indifferent,incompetent, or worse. But it isn’t a tool to be used lightly. And as alooming Aug. 2 recall election in Chelmsford suggests, some recallefforts seem motivated more by private grudges than by thegreater good.Businessman Roland Van Liew, who is angry about zoning vari-ances that the town granted for an office building, wants to recallfour town selectmen whom he claims are corrupt. The volunteerselectmen and their local supporters say the charges are false, andmaintain that past allegations by Van Liew against elected officialshaven’t borne out. But Van Liew spent $90,000 - channeled fromhis company - to hire signature-takers, pay political consultants,and send out direct-mail pieces to prompt a recall. That expendi-ture is his right. But it hardly demonstrates a groundswell of grass-roots fervor for his cause.Especially since Chelmsford has a regularly scheduled election forselectmen next spring, the recall vote is a drain on town resources.It will cost the town nearly $20,000 - and, should it succeed, willtrigger another $20,000 election for new selectmen.The voters of Chelmsford still have the ultimate say about whethertheir selectmen should go. But voters should exercise the samelevel of cautious judgment when they’re considering recall petitionsin the first place.© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.
  11. 11. Lowell Sun Editorial 06/29/2011 Community disorganizerThere are 34 days left until Aug. 2, when Chelmsford voters head to the polls to decide a special recall election,the result of a petition initiated by resident Roland Van Liew.Unless residents have been living in a cloistered home for the past three years, theyd be hard-pressed not toknow Van Liews name and personal drive to push from office four members of the Board of Selectmen in a singlerecall vote.Van Liew alleges that Chelmsfords municipal government -- appointed and elected officials -- are rotten to thecore in their thoughts, words, deeds and service to the town.Such full-fledged corruption, if it were true, would put Chelmsford on the FBIs most-wanted list instead of Moneymagazines survey of best places to live in America, a coveted designation it received in 2007.Van Liew makes his allegations without prosecutable evidence. (None of the four selectmen have been chargedwith any wrongdoing by any law-enforcement agency in Massachusetts.) Still, Van Liew persists in telling TheSun, The Boston Globe and anyone who will listen or read his fliers and web messages that he has been crusad-ing for years in town against "corruption, graft and cronyism."Its truly a remarkable story when you think of it.A savvy computer-software company owner, Van Liew has succeeded in planting seeds of doubt and divisionamong this community of 33,000, winning over dozens of disciples. The rallying cry is the 9 North Road project, ajuicy tale because it involves the purchase of a piece of private land near a public common. According to VanLiew, town officials were in cahoots with the Eliopoulos family, which includes former Selectman Philip Eliopoulos,to acquire the land and smooth the way for the owners to circumvent a murky deed restriction limiting what couldbe built on the property.A state land court judge last year denied an injunction to halt construction.Yet Van Liews conspiracy accusations have continued to put the town on the defensive for something that, whileimperfectly done, was done legally nonetheless.In 2009, Van Liew targeted Town Manager Paul Cohen in his first recall attempt, an effort that was invalid underthe Town Charter. A year later, Van Liew targeted two Planning Board members in a second recall effort. Whenthat failed, he turned his sights on the four selectmen -- George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Pat Wojtas and Jon Kurland-- in a third recall campaign to be decided Aug. 2.Van Liew says his intention is to clean up government. Thats a noble goal. But where is the malfeasance or im-propriety that warrants such an extreme measure as a recall election? We dont see it. What we do see, however,is a personal vendetta directed at specific people who make up govern-ment.Voters should be wary that Van Liew offers nothing in alternatives or so-lutions if the recall is successful. He has stated that he wont run for of-fice, so dont count on him to be part of change -- just to make it happen.Van Liew has refused to participate in a public forum with others or byhimself to answer direct questions posed by The Sun. He has deflectedand rejected all attempts to debate those officials to whom he has so ar-dently accused of wrongdoing.Van Liew is a wealthy businessman and a formidable politician. He hasspent $90,000 so far to bankroll his recall campaign, and hell likely goover $100,000 before its over. Van Liew knows what he wants and hesdetermined to get it, even if it means buying a special election.Is Chelmsford for sale? Van Liew says it is, and its ironic how hes out toprove it.
  12. 12. Chelmsford Independent Editorial: Play fair, play nice GateHouse News Service Jun 30, 2011Chelmsford —Last week, a letter supporting recall of the four selectmen ran in this paper.For a few sentences, the letter has sparked a firestorm in some circles.From the list of transgressions, real or otherwise, the one the newspaper takes greatest um-brage with was the author’s failure to mention her apparent affiliation with the pro-recall groupCheating Chelmsford [she’s listed on some press releases as “volunteer coordinator”].The author claims that failure was an oversight, some kind of email glitch.This is annoying for two reasons.Least important: We didn’t associate the name with the organization. If we had, we could haveadjusted the signature line to reflect it.Most important: Some people in town have indicated they do not believe the email glitch story.They see the letter as an effort by a non-resident to pass herself off as a voter with a stake inthe proceedings.For the record, the author does claim to live in Chelmsford.What the letter did, in the end, was to further entrench the distrust endemic in this recall fight.Without civility, without transparency and without trust, the two sides may never achieve localdétente and we could well be talking recall of some board or another in three, five or 10 years.Disagree but remain civil. Play fair. Play honest. Or go find another sandbox.
  13. 13. Chelmsford Independent Editorial Opinion: Chelmsford recall rife with problems GateHouse News Service Jul 07, 2011 our long list of concerns about the recall, two stand out. First is the lack of hard, incontrovertible evi-dence that someone did something wrong. Second, pro-recall forces have yet to offer a plausible mo-tive for the corruption and malfeasance they claim has taken place. Individually, either is enough to voteagainst the recall. Together, they create what should be an airtight barrier against the four-person recall.As for evidence, the best the recall proponents have come up with to date is a long list of complaints,concerns and speculation that add up to little beyond hyperbole.Even Spencer Kimball, director of the pro-recall group Cheating Chelmsford, can’t provide the evi-dence. In a conversation on June 30, he gave the Independent that all-too familiar list of dates, timesand speculation about who knew what and when they knew it - anyone with a mailbox in Chelmsford isfamiliar with the complaints.He concluded by saying there were indications of collusion to ensure the property at 9 North Road wassold to a private buyer, that these were issues and concerns.Issues and concerns are not legally binding proof. They fall short of proof because, taken out of con-text, just about anything can be made to sound sinister, whether it is or not.It’s a dangerous, winding road to travel, to recall people based on issues and concerns. The nationspent millions in the 1990s, investigating the president and his wife based on isses and concerns ofwrongdoing. Those investigations eventually proved nothing concrete, except the ability to throw count-less hours and millions of dollars at perceived problems.Likewise, recalls shouldn’t be based on issues and concerns. They should be based legally supportedevidence of criminal behavior. Pro-recall forces can point to any one of a number of dates and meet-ings, ask any one of a number of questions but in the end it boils down to speculation. Remember, theburden of proof is on the accuser – you don’t have to prove your innocence, rather your accuser mustprove your guilt. So far, that hasn’t come close to happening.Second is the question that itches the most: Motivation. Multiple town boards approved the permits for9 North Road. That means multiples of people, double digit numbers of people, had to be in collusion toensure the property went to one family. But the pro-recall forces have not answered that one question:Why?The best Kimball was able to give us was a half-answer about currying favor with important people intown.Think about that for a minute. To believe that is to believe a large group of you neighbors handle townbusiness as if they are a gaggle of numbskulls seeking social favor and status.Sorry. That doesn’t hold water. There has to be some motivation beyond making one family in townhappy and, to date, that motivation hasn’t been revealed and, in our opinion it hasn’t been revealed be-cause it doesn’t exist. A vast, multi-town board conspiracy engineered to make one family in townhappy so the next encounter at Market Basket isn’t awkward stretches common sense to its breakingpoint.If you don’t like the building at 9 North Road, fine. We don’t either. But recalling four people based onindications and speculation? Next spring, George Dixon and Pat Wojtas are up for re-election. That’sthe time to recall them, not Aug. 2.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  14. 14. Cant Get There from HereA Blob from Billerica SpellPosted by Jeffrey R. Parenti, P.E. on June 29, 2011What do you think of the attempt to recall the Chelmsford selectmen? A resident there hasspent some $90,000 — some of it on “professional signature gatherers” — to push a recallvote.The gentleman is angry because he thinks the selectmen are corrupt. Check that — he thinksa former board was corrupt, and he is mad that the current board isn’t pursuing an ethics in-vestigation. Seems as though there was a land deal that had a questionable outcome and theformer board members helped it along.Cries of corruption sound awfully familiar, don’t they? Next door, here in Billerica, we’ve heardit, too. At least this fellow in Chelmsford was willing to name names. (Previously he tried torecall a couple of Planning Board members, unsuccessfully.)I suppose most people following this story have already taken a side. Either he is a nut-job ora hero. I look at it differently.I think the gentleman asking for the recall is angry at the wrong thing. Instead of being mad atthe volunteers (unlike Billerica, Chelmsford selectmen are not paid), the real problem is theaccelerating loss of interest in local politics. There is a real shortage of people who careenough to vote, and a dearth of qualified candidates. Therefore seats on boards of selectmenare not taken by the best and brightest. And once elected, they can do whatever they want,since no one bothers to pay attention to actions they take.And by the way, hasn’t this man every read Animal Farm by George Orwell? What if the recallis successful? What then? Who will these corrupt people be replaced by? As Orwell taughtus, the new regime is much like the one but with different names.Were these selectmen corrupt? I don’t know. Forced to guess, I would probably say theywere not. But keep in mind, there is a grey area between helping out political supporters andoutright Blagojavich corruption. So you can argue that this is a subjective question (until anauthority like the Ethics Commissions proffers a ruling, which they have not in the Chelmsfordcase).There are some lessons for us here. While the recall has supercharged local political interestin Chelmsford, it is not at all positive attention. It has divided the town. Its long-term affect ontrust of elected people will be severe. Voter turnout will suffer.There are ways to build community without bringing individuals down. We live in small towns.We should be supporting one another. We should be governing ourselves in such a way thatwe feel good about the direction the town is taking. We should not pick fights for the thrill thatthe battle gives us or to avenge a personal wrong.It’s more evidence that the small-town, self-governing way of life is in terrible danger. Are wesmart enough to save democracy on the local scale? Or does it not even matter to us any-more?- Jeff Parenti is a TM Rep in Billerica
  15. 15. Cheating Chelmsford: Violations clear, recall only option By Monica Jimenez / Wicked Local Chelmsford GateHouse News Service Jun 30, 2011 —According to Cheating Chelmsford spokesman and Springfield-based political campaigner Spencer Kimball, the current Board of Selectmenshould be recalled to bring down an Epsilon Group development on 9 North Road, protect residents’ interests and uphold open government.Delivering an argument originally made by recall initiator Roland Van Liew, Kimball said there are indications town officials colluded to approvethe building at 9 North Road against residents’ interests.The complaint begins with former Selectmen Phil Eliopoulos. While on the board, Eliopoulos knew the town was seeking a site for a new sta-tion, Kimball said, but he never suggested the most logical one – the site right behind it, 9 North Road. Eliopoulos was aware the parcel couldbe for sale because he was representing his father and Epsilon LLC owner Michael Eliopoulos in negotiations to buy the land.“Would a reasonable person think that he used his influence to purchase this land?” Kimball asked. land?According to Kimball, the answer is yes. After leaving the board, Eliopoulos disclosed his possible conflict of interest to the state ethics com-mission. But Kimball maintains he realized his situation earlier than he let on, citing a March 2009 meeting during which Eliopoulos heard dis-cussion of Center Station and asked no questions.Kimball said Eliopoulos could well have used the information he was privy to and his friendliness with town officials to make sure 9 North Roadwent to his father and not the town.Town Manager Paul Cohen has said the town only considered buying part of the land, abandoned the idea after Eastern Bank refused to di-vide the parcel, and he kept Eliopoulos out of the loop the entire time, but Kimball said Cohen let an opportunity slip away.Later, Kimball said, the Board of Selectmen failed to remedy the error, voting a preservation restriction didn’t rule out the project instead of opt-ing to enforce the restriction and letting the matter go to court.“That’s part of why there’s a recall going on – because people think that that preservation restriction should be en -forced by the board and a judge should look at the entire merits of the case,” Kimball said. case,Asked what might motivate Cohen and the selectmen to knowingly act against residents’ interest, Kimball suggested the answer could be sim-ple.“It could be nothing more than good will amongst important people in the community,” Kimball said. community,Kimball said removing the current Board of Selectmen and electing a new one will get the Epsilon development taken down in one of twoways: Either the new selectmen will reconsider the preservation restriction; or they will call for an investigation of Cohen’s actions.Only the selectmen have the standing to take these actions, Kimball said, and waiting for a regular election will take too long. But if the recallsucceeds and a new board sends the preservation restriction to court or finds ethics rules were broken in the approval process, Kimball said, ajudge will likely order the Epsilon building torn down.“Our goal is open, honest government,” Kimball said. “We believe there have been ethics violations and further investigat - government,ing 9 North Road will shed a lot of light in the community.” community.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved Choose Chelmsford: Recall effort defies logic By Monica Jimenez / Wicked Local Chelmsford GateHouse News Service Jun 30, 2011 to Choose Chelmsford co-chair Stephani Bush, before voting on the recall of four Chelmsford selectmen, voters should do onething: Look at the man behind the curtain.Since initiating the recall process, Roland Van Liew has distanced himself from the pro-recall organization Cheating Chelmsford, but ChooseChelmsford maintains he is driving the group’s efforts. They point out Spencer Kimball, spokesman for Cheating Chelmsford, is a for-hire cam-paigner based in Springfield; he has little knowledge of Chelmsford or stake in the town.Van Liew, on the other hand, has a history of targeting Chelmsford officials, Bush said.“It’s a pattern of behavior: If you oppose him, you’re corrupt and you’re in league with each other, ” Bush said.She gave a list of examples: Van Liew lead an effort to recall Planning Board members Sue Carter and George Zaharoolis late last year. Priorto that, he attempted the same against Town Manager Paul Cohen, who is not an elected official and cannot be recalled. According to Bush,he has maligned the character of Community Development Director Evan Belansky and sued resident Fran McDougall, who has been outspo-ken in her support for town officials. Currently he is suing former selectman Phil Eliopoulos.According to Bush’s co-chairman Angelo Taranto, Van Liew has done much of this from behind the scenes – first through mailings and Internetsites, and now through Cheating Chelmsford.“If I had convictions so strong about backroom deals and illegal moves, as a person, I would be willing to stand upand express it, ” Taranto said. “There is a hesitance on his [Van Liew’s] part to do that. What I would like to see wouldbe for him to say these things in person. ”The reasons selectmen are up for recall don’t hold up under scrutiny, Bush said. Cheating Chelmsford spokesman Spencer Kimball claims therecall is a response to the board’s vote in August 2010 not to enforce a preservation restriction and stop construction on 9 North Road, butonly Selectmen George Dixon and Matt Hanson voted this way; Selectman Jon Kurland voted to enforce the restriction and Selectman PatWojtas, on the recall ballot, was not even on the board.Cheating Chelmsford has also claimed, through Kimball, that town officials’ friendliness with each other got the 9 North Road project passed inthe first place. But there are no examples of particular chumminess and several examples of disagreements and even bad blood between offi-cials, Bush said. Additionally, Bush said, collusion would have had to take place not only within the Board of Selectmen, but among the severalother town boards that also approved the project“So every single board involved is corrupt? Everyone is in on it? ” Bush asked. “It’s not logical. ”Bush suggested the recall is not about any particular project — it appears to be one man’s effort to subvert the political process by funding acampaign of distraction.“He wants to make all these powerful statements and play with people’s emotions. He makes all these assertions,but he has nothing in his hands, ” Bush said. “There is nothing hard, concrete or proven. ”Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  16. 16. “Better for Whom?” by John EdwardJohn Edward, a resident of Chelmsford who earned his master’s degree at UMass Lowell and who teaches economics at Bentley Universityand UMass Lowell, contributes the following column.A recall vote and the controversial building project that incited it are generating a lot of heat inChelmsford this summer. That makes it a good time to shed some light on the organization be-hind the recall, and the book from which they took their name.Chelmsford voters keep getting mailings full of fiery language and damning charges againsttown officials. Lately they have focused on the “9 North Road” project – an office building nownearing completion in the center of town.The onslaught of mail comes from an organization called Better Not Bigger, formerly known asthe Slow Growth Initiative. Better Not Bigger is the title of a book on community development.After reading the book, and reflecting on the conduct of the local organization, the obviousquestion is: better for whom?The book offers valid concerns regarding urban sprawl and the inequities of commercial devel-opment. Unfortunately, the rhetoric that comes out of the local organization obstructs efforts topromote a more equitable Chelmsford.According to U.S. Census Bureau data, one third of Chelmsford homeowners, and almost halfof Chelmsford renters, have housing expenses that are considered unaffordable. One out ofevery five renters is paying more than half their income on housing. It is almost impossible forthe one out of four households in Chelmsford with income under $50,000 to find an affordableplace to call home.Better Not Bigger, the book, observes a dramatic increase in the average home size. The localorganization opposes efforts to provide houses and apartments of a more modest size.The book correctly observes that the profit motive leads developers to prefer high-end homes.The author recommends statewide programs that include incentives or requirements for moreaffordable housing. Yet the local organization spent a lot of money trying to repeal the Massa-chusetts state program that does just that (see No On Question 2).According to the book, the first step in building a sustainable community is to offer a positive vi-sion. Seldom does the local organization offer constructive policies to provide affordable hous-ing. When they do, their suggestions are either impractical, or of modest impact.One recommendation in the book for building more sustainable communities is “make neigh-borhoods walkable.” The local organization was critical of initiatives to do exactly that inChelmsford (disclosure: my wife is a member of the Chelmsford Bicycle and Pedestrian Advi-sory Committee).The book says, “Concerns about how growth controls affect the availability of low and moder-ate-income housing are legitimate. But such concerns should not be used merely to thwart andundermine growth controls.” Agreed, we should avoid uncontrolled growth.The local organization says, “further growth should be aggressively opposed” (their emphasis).They are true to their word as they undermine one of the priorities identified in the book: “toprovide a reasonable supply of low to moderate-income housing.”The book accuses local governments of being part of the “growth machine” by reducing regula-tions. Academic studies on the high cost of housing in the Commonwealth identify too muchregulation, in particular exclusionary zoning, as the prime culprit. Chelmsford zoning allowsmulti-family housing on only 2 percent of town land.
  17. 17. The book devotes an entire chapter to fiscal impact analysis and the cost of growth. The localorganization’s website still cites an expense to revenue ratio for residential development thathas been discredited (they still identify the wrong source as well). Further, they ignore the factthat their own supporting material makes it clear that the denser housing developments theyvehemently oppose may offer a net fiscal benefit.The book cautions against labeling and name-calling. The local organization complains about“name-calling officials.” Yet, Better Not Bigger mailings expose us to vitriol such as “incorrigi-ble lemon,” “self-serving hacks,” and “slickster.”Both the book and the organization like to raise the character issue. They exhort communitiesto “preserve their small town character.”The Town of Chelmsford does not have a single character. From Alpha Road to Zeus Drive,from Crooked Spring Road to Summer Street, the town has many characters. There areneighborhoods where development is inappropriate. There are areas where certain forms ofdevelopment would enhance the character.There are properties in town in dire need of redevelopment.What we had in Chelmsford was a history of very rapid growth. That history was in the 1950sand 60s. During that 20-year period, almost 6,000 single-family houses were constructed —almost one per day.The character of the town was forever changed. Since then, the rate of development hasslowed dramatically, and now it has almost stopped. However, the newer homes are bigger,and many older homes have been enlarged.Better Not Bigger, the book, correctly observes that the economics all come down to supplyand demand. It says, “In most cases, it is rapid growth pressures that drive up prices.” Forcities cited in the book like Portland and Houston, and in many sun-belt regions, demand is in-deed the problem.In Greater Lowell, the problem is supply. I am serving on the Chelmsford Affordable HousingPlan Committee. We have found conditions that confirm what a recent Harvard Universitystudy referred to as an affordable-housing crisis.The book warns of “public policies that benefit a select few at the expense of the rest of thecommunity.” That is a valid concern in this area where affordable housing is in short supply. Itis an obstacle for many people who want to move here. More affordable housing would benefitmany who want to stay in the community.Both the book and the local organization refer to the United Nations definition of sustainabledevelopment: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising theability of future generations to meet their own needs. The children of Chelmsford are going tofind it very hard to live in the town where they grew up.The author of Better Not Bigger does not endorse the local group, nor did he grant permissionto use the name. However, the local organization clearly learned one lesson from the book.The author describes a city recalling a mayor and city councilors. Apparently they were re-called simply because “voters did not like their support of [growth] policies.”Better Not Bigger is exercising their legal right to force a recall vote. Hopefully, after the voteon August 2nd we can get back to work on constructive efforts to make Chelmsford better forall who want to live here, not just the select who can afford to live here.Taken fromrichardhowe.comLowell Politics and Lowell History
  18. 18. The buildings up, the recalls on For months, bitter talk of backroom deals. Chelmsford voters will soon have their say By Rita Savard, Updated: 07/07/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- In less than a month, town polls will open for an election to recall four selectmen.Voters will decide Aug. 2 whether George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Jon Kurland and Pat Wojtas should be removed from officebefore their terms expire.It will be the first recall election in the towns history, spearheaded by local businessman Roland Van Liew.Owner of the Chelmsford-based IT training company Hands On Technology Transfer Inc., Van Liew has funneled $90,000into the recall effort to date, including hiring signature-gatherers and a political consultant. In the end, he succeeded in gar-nering more than 2,400 voter signatures for each selectman on the ballot.Recall supporters say the special election reflects voter outrage against a corrupt local government and enhances democ-racy. Opponents say recalls are necessary when officials break laws, but argue there is no evidence that the four select-men targeted have done anything illegal.Cheating Chelmsford, a pro-recall group led by Van Liews paid political consultant, Spencer Kimball, says town officialsengaged in backroom deals to benefit the Eliopouloses, a well-known political family that recently constructed a two-storyoffice building at 9 North Road.Choose Chelmsford, a group of residents against the recall, says Van Liew bought a recall election to settle a longtimegrudge against Town Manager Paul Cohen, who Van Liew has been trying to drive out of town since 2007.Heres whats happening:What is a recall?Recall elections allow citizens to remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before the end of the personsterm. Historically, recalls are used when an elected official does something inexcusable, such as a major ethics violation.Why a recall in Chelmsford?Van Liew is accusing the named selectmen of refusing to act in the best interest of residents and for failing to enforce a1978 preservation restriction whichSelectman George Dixon says he felt the preservation restriction on the Eliopoulos land parcel clearly allows for develop-ment.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.regulates development of 9 North Road. Van Liew, who has also accused Cohen of multiple ethics violations, believes theselectmen should have sought an ethics investigation of the town manager.9 North RoadThe two-story, 15,494-square-foot, Colonial-style building has receiveda stamp of approval from the Chelmsford Historic District Commission,the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board and, last summer,the Board of Selectmen after a lengthy public hearing. Opponents allegethat town boards exceeded their authority in approving construction,given their knowledge of the 1978 preservation restriction.The parcel, purchased from Eastern Bank by Michael Eliopoulos, fatherof former Selectman Philip Eliopoulos, willSelectman Pat Wojtas says no backroom deals took place to benefit theEliopouloses.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.eventually house medical, dental and law offices owned and operated by Michaels children and other family members.Van Liew says the parcel, which included the adjacent historic Emerson House, sold for about $480,000 because thepreservation restriction made the land unbuildable.He alleges backroom deals paved the way for construction on what should have remained public land.
  19. 19. The preservation restrictionThe land at 9 North Road was not public, but owned by Eastern Bank.Three former selectmen, responsible for drafting the 1978 restriction, said their intent was to keep the land as openspace. But the language of the restriction they wrote posed a roadblock.Wording allows for development of 55 percentSelectman Matthew Hanson says his vote on the Eliopoulos project came down to what was legal.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.of the land. The creators of the restriction said development was reserved for small, barn-like structures only.The matter remains tied up in Land Court, awaiting a judges ruling.Last year, Judge Gordon Piper denied an injunction to halt building, which has proceeded.In his ruling, Piper said the plaintiffs "are not likely to prevail on their claims having to do with alleged violation of therecorded preservation restriction."But the judge also said his denial of the injunction will "play no role in the courts decision to enter such a judg -ment when the court hears the case on the merits and fully decides it." itTwo sides to the storyCohen said he learned from Fire Capt. Hank Houle that Michael Eliopoulos was trying to purchase 9 North Road propertyalong with the historic Emerson House in February 2009.Cohen said he called Eastern Bank Vice President Tom Dunn to see if the bank was interested in selling a piece of theparcel to the town. At the same time, Chelmsford was dealing with personnel layoffs due to midyear budget cuts enforcedby the state.Because of the towns budget crunch, officials say they werent interested in acquiring the whole parcel with the EmersonHouse, which needed costly repairs.All the town was seeking was a slice of land directly behind the fire station, Cohen said.But the bank did not want to divide the land, said Joe Bartolotta, an Eastern Bank vice president.In April 2009, the bank finalized a purchase-and-sale agreement with the Eliopouloses. Philip Eliopoulos was a sitting se-lectman in 2009 (he left the board in April) and served as attorney for his father, Michael Eliopoulos.Some residents have publicly said Philip Eliopoulos should have brought his knowledge that the land was available to thetown, specifically because it was behind the Center Fire Station.Philip Eliopoulos said he contacted the state Ethics Commission and received the OK from an ethics investigator beforebecoming involved with the building project. Eliopoulos said he followed all legal protocols through several public hearingsover a year.Van Liew has accused Cohen of helping Eliopoulos push through the land deal so that Eliopoulos family could profit,while selectmen stood by and did nothing.Cohen and the selectmen deny any wrongdoing.Who is facing recallGeorge DixonDixon was a selectman when the board voted on the building project after a lengthy public hearing in August 2010. Dixondecided the Eliopoulos project did not violate the 1978 preservation restriction. He said he arrived at his decision afterreading over documents from three other town boards, getting advice from the towns attorneys and reading Pipers denialof the construction injunction.After weighing all the information, Dixon said he felt the preservation restriction on the private land parcel clearly allowsfor development.Van Liew accuses Dixon of "refusing" to hold a public hearing to uphold residents interests until the lawsuit appealing thePlanning Board permits was withdrawn.Dixon has argued that the board could not openly discuss the issue while the town was being sued. Dixons regular termexpires in April.
  20. 20. Matthew HansonMatt Hanson became the youngest member to ever serve on the board, topping the ticket with more than 3,200 votes inApril 2010. He was 21. Just four months after taking office, like Dixon, Hanson also said he felt his vote came down towhat was legal. After going over the information from other town boards, lawyers and Pipers ruling, Hanson said he felt thewording of the preservation restriction allows development on the land.Van Liew accuses Hanson of refusing to allow a court to interpret and enforce the restriction. Hanson, Van Liew said, alsoopposed formal inquiry into the "malfeasance" of Cohen and Philip Eliopoulos. Hansons regular term expires in 2013.Jon KurlandKurland was the sole selectman to oppose the Eliopoulos project, saying the building was clearly in violation. Kurland saidhe felt Piper wanted selectmen to weigh in on the issue. Kurland defended his colleagues at a recent public forum, sayingeven though he didnt agree with Dixon or Hansons votes, or Pipers ruling, he has to live with it. Kurland stressed that heand his colleagues in danger of being recalled did nothing illegal.Van Liew accuses Kurland of never making a motion to bring the matter before a Land Court judge for impartial adjudica-tion. Kurland argues that a motion was already filed -- by attorney and now-Planning Board member Richard McClure --and was waiting for a ruling from a judge. He didnt see the need to bring another lawsuit against the town, Kurland said.Kurlands regular term expires in 2013.Pat WojtasWojtas wasnt on the Board of Selectmen that voted on the Eliopolous building. But Van Liew said she was on the boardwhen Eliopoulos purchased the North Road parcel, and that she remained silent about backroom deals.Wojtas has said Cohen brought the issue of the land sale before the board and that he was going to pursue trying to pur-chase a piece of the land behind the fire station. But the private land was sold to the Eliopouloses because the bank didntwant to divide it. Wojtas said no backroom deals took place to benefit the Eliopouloses.She was re-elected to the Board of Selectmen during a special election last November, to finish the term of a selectmanwho resigned. Wojtas term expires in April.The man behind the recallVan Liew, 57, is a Chelmsford resident and business owner. A registered Democrat, he has contributed to several politicalcampaigns, including Al Frankens successful run for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, and has told The Sun that he has pumpedmillions into nonprofits, including childrens charities, womens health organizations and other causes.Through his charitable affiliations, Van Liew was directed to the New England Coalition for Sustainable Population, a non-profit agency that says it supports reducing population growth. The group was formed to spread education and awarenessabout overpopulation that can stretch natural resources and lead to deforestation, food and water shortages, as well as cli-mate change, according to its website.Van Liew left the NECSP board of directors in 2009 to focus on the Slow Growth Initiative in Chelmsford.Through SGI, Van Liew helped funnel resources into a massive grass-roots effort to wipe out the states Chapter 40B af-fordable-housing law. The measure made it to the state ballot, but lost.Van Liews correspondence with Cohen began in 2007, when Van Liew asked that Cohen change the towns "develop -ment coordinator" position to a "sustainability engineer." Cohen did not. coordinator engineer.While the pro-recall group accuses officials of corruption, the anti-recall group said Van Liews problem with government isreally a problem with the town manager. In an email to Cohen in August 2007, Van Liew accused Cohen of ignoring hisconcerns and wrote that there will be "continued political uproar over your decisions." decisions.From 40Bs to 9 North Road, Van Liew has authored thousands of fiery mailings blasting town officials for corruption thathave landed in mailboxes across Chelmsford.He initiated an unsuccessful recall against Cohen in 2009. The town man-ager is not an elected official, and can only be removed by a vote of theBoard of Selectmen.Last fall, Van Liew initiated a second recall against two members of thePlanning Board. He was unable to gather the necessary signatures tomeet the petition deadline.Van Liew said his purpose for launching the recall is "about goodgovernment."government."I want them to uphold the law," he has said. law Photos by Sun Staff
  21. 21. ITR:NEWS  FLASHBACK FUMING OVER PETITION: FUMING Some call Chelmsford recall petition misleading By Rita Savard, 07/24/2009CHELMSFORD -- A group working to throw out the states Chapter 40B affordable-housing law has a newagenda: Throw out Town Manager Paul Cohen.The Chelmsford Slow Growth Initiative has a petition campaign under way to get rid of Cohen, but some residentssay they were misled into signing."If I had known it was something related to Paul Cohen, I never would have signed it," said Joanne Anderson, a it,Town Meeting representative and resident of Evergreen Road. "I thought it was a petition to repeal 40B, not recallthe town manager." manager.On Wednesday, Anderson said she received a visit from two teenaged girls who said they were from the SlowGrowth Initiative and asked if she would sign a petition against Chapter 40B. Anderson, who opposes the affordable-housing law, said she had a lengthy conversation with the girls about bad 40B projects in town, signed thedocument, titled "Affidavit Requesting A Recall Petition," and asked the girls to leave a copy behind for her husband Petition,and neighbor to sign."They never mentioned Paul Cohens name once," Anderson said. "Then I read the petition and I was fuming." once, fuming.Anderson, who said she saw nearly 10 other names attached to the petition, contacted a neighbor who told herthat she also thought she had signed a petition to repeal 40B. Using the online social-networking site Facebook,Anderson sent out an alert to warn her friends and neighbors.Craig Chemaly, executive director of the Slow Growth Initiative,said he doesnt believe the groups volunteers would willfully lie, and that "there is no way for anyone to have readthis and not understand what they signed." signed.The document clearly states a request for a recall petition for the town manager, and that the undersigned believeCohen has pursed an agenda against the will of the residents, ignored the towns master plan and has "loweredthe quality of life for all Chelmsford residents." residents.Chemaly said the effort to place a question on the town election ballot for Cohens removal goes beyond the issueof affordable housing."This was a petition meant to get rid of a town official who acts in almost every case in diametric opposition towhat the residents want, " Chemaly said.Cohen, who summed up the issue as "sad," wondered yesterday if the groups volunteers actually understood sad,what they were asking residents to sign.Only elected officials can be recalled from office. The removal of the town manager -- who is appointed by theBoard of Selectmen -- is under the authority of the selectmen, according to Section 4-7 of the Town Charter.The process the Slow Growth Initiative was using to recall Cohen is correct procedure under Section 3-12, but appliesto elected officials only. The charter states that a recall petition may be initiated by filing an affidavit containingthe name of the officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall. The affidavit must besigned by at least 25 voters from each of the towns nine precincts. After signatures are validated by the townclerk, a petition is issued, which requires 10 percent of voter signatures in order to have the recall placed as aquestion on the election ballot.The Slow Growth Initiative made headlines earlier in the year when they launched a mass-mailing campaign,again blasting town officials for disregarding the will of the voters on 40B projects and bringing multifamily, highdensityprojects into Chelmsford.Chemaly said "it would be disappointing" if a recall petition cant be issued. disappointingThere is no denying that many people in town are angry with Cohens performance and would like to see him removed,he said.Other residents posting on Facebook said attacking the town manager was not the most productive way to rallyagainst big developers."Lying is not the way to bring people into the cause," wrote Town Meeting Representative Roy Early. "Dont create cause,a firestorm that wreaks havoc on the whole Repeal 40B petition drive just because of personal vendettas againstyour town management." management. ITR:VIDEO  FLASHBACK BOS meeting CLIP from March 2009 CLICK  HERE
  22. 22. Where Are They Now? ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫Dr. Michael Sargent is a practicing dentist in Chelmsford and formerly lived intown. He owns poperties neighboring the site and argued that the building would ruinhis view of open space and hurt his property value. He initiated the original lawsuit tostoop 9 North Road but said he would withdraw it if the Selectman voted on the preser-vation restriction. They did and he ended his lawsuit.ITR:Why have you chosen not to continue your legal fight against the construction at 9 North Road?Dr. Michael Sargent :My wife and i reluctantly dismissed our lawsuit in opposition to the 9 North Road project because (i)the Land Court had ruled that only the Board of Selectman had the power to enforce the Preserva-tion Restriction recorded 30 years earlier to protect the open space at the property; and (ii) theBoard of Selectman had taken the publicposition that it would not act to enforce the Preservation Restriction so long as the matter was thesubject of our litigation. Therefore, we felt it was necessary to dismiss our lawsuit to eliminate whatthe Board said was the only obstacle to its enforcement of the Preservation Restriction. Of course,we never anticipated that a majority of the Board would then choose not to act to protect the openspace under the Preservation Restriction. And, because our lawsuit was required to be dismissed"with prejudice," we were not allowed to reinstate it when the Board chose to do nothing.ITR:What is your opinion on the current selectmens recall that was based on 9 North road?Dr. Michael Sargent :My wife and I grew up in Chelmsford and are proud to own two historic properties in Town fromwhich we operate our respective businesses. We are residents of Westford, however, and do notvote in Chelmsford. Accordingly, despite our continued dismay over the 9 North Road project, wehave felt it would not be appropriate to comment upon or become involved in the recall process inany way whatsoever. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫Peter Lawlor served on the Board of Selectmen from 1992 to 1998. He was theattorney for Michael Sargent during his challenge to the legality of Epsilons construc-tion of their building. Lawlor and Eliopoulos were colleagues on the Board duringLawlors last year.ITR:Why have you chosen not to continue your fight against the construction at 9 North Road?Peter Lawlor:In connection with the legal challenges filed last year concerning the construction at 9 North Road
  23. 23. I represented my client, Dr. Michael Sargent whose office building abuts the 9 North Road prop-erty. Dr. Sargent elected to withdraw his litigation filed in the Land Court in August, 2009 for rea-sons that he and his wife articulated in an ad that they published in the local newspapers at thetime.ITR:What is your opinion on the current selectmens recall that was based on 9 North road?Peter Lawlor: As to the current recall effort concerning 4 of our sitting selectmen I am strongly opposed to therecall. We elect the men and women who volunteer to serve as selectmen because we trust theirjudgment and that they will exercise that judgment for the good of all of the residents of Chelms-ford upon the basis of all of the information that they have available to them. I have never ex-pected that I will agree with every thing that the Selectmen do. But if I am sufficiently upset withthe Board broadly or with any individual selectman, my duty is either to run for the position myselfor to back someone at the next election whom I think will do a better job.Recalling is a remedy which was designed to be used to remove an official who has so egre-giously abused the trust of his office that they are no longer fit to continue in that position. We areno where close to that set of facts. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫John Carson who was on the Board of Selectmen at the time (1978) the Town 1978Meeting approved the preservation restriction for 9 North Road, felt that the currentBoard should honor the original intent.He was involved in the sale of the property from the town to Dr. Currie and was in-volved in the creation of the preservation restriction.ITR:Why have you chosen not to continue your fight against the construction at 9 North Road?John Carson:I have decided not to continue fighting 9 North Rd because, in my opinion, the battle has beenlost. Continuing to try to get this building torn down is a waste of time and continues the dividewe have in town. Its time for some healing to take place -- if thats possible with Roland VanLiews bomb throwing tactics.ITR:What is your opinion on the current selectmens recall that was based on 9 North road?John Carson:As for the recall, Im firmly opposed to recalling any of the four Selectmen. Although I dont agreewith the actions of three of them in the 9 North Rd matter, I dont feel that this justifies recallingthem.
  24. 24. CHELMSFORD - WHY WE LOVE HERMy husband and I were in the process of moving back to Eastern MA from Westfield when we first weremade aware of Chelmsford. My husband was raised in Cambridge and I in Newton and this town was unfa-miliar to us. At the time we had four boys, 4 through 10 years of age. As a teacher, school rankings were im-portant and we chose to move here because of the superb reputation this town had for its schools.Fast forward to 2011, forty years and one daughter later, I have developed a deep and abiding love for thistown.I have lived here longer then any where else.Chelmsford has provided my family and me with everything a family would expect their community to offer.Good government, good schools, community organizations who donate their time and efforts to add to thegoodnessof this town, excellent fire and police forces, a DPW better than most, first class Library, restaurants, recre-ation, over 600 acres of open space. A good deal of what makes this town so wonderful is how the many vol-unteers keep the life blood flowing. I LOVE MY TOWN and I am not ashamed to say it.- Fran McDougall* The residents of Chelmsford are typically very friendly and outgoing....its a pleasure to talk with them andto attend town functions and to see many familiar faces.* Chelmsford is in a great location...its quiet and surrounded by trees and open space, yet its only a fewmiles from Boston and other cities, which have many wonderful museums, sporting and concert venues, andmany other places to visit.* Chelmsford has many recreation spaces to exercise in and other places to enjoy, for example: the BFRTbike path...the many conservation trails and open spaces...the excellent public library...the soon to be reno-vated Old Town Halls...all the old and historical buildings in town...the well run town offices and govern-ment...the outstanding local cable TV studio...and the convenient shopping and dining locations...all makeChelmsford one of the best towns in the state, if not in the entire country.- Tom "TC" ChristianoOur compassionate community - willing to join together and help anyone in need- Stefani BushI was born and raised in this town. I loved the schools when I was growing up and knew I wanted to raise mychildren and let them enjoy the same community feel. I remember sitting on the stools at Jacks diner andnow my kids sit sit the stools at jessies place. I sat on the sidelines as long as I can remember and watchedthe 4th of July parade, Now my children ride on a float as cub scouts in Pack 107. I played little league, nowmy son has played for his 4th year. I played at Robert Field now my children play there. I was Baptized atBaptist Pond, Now my children get to ride there bikes down and swim at Heart pond. I used to swim at Crys-tal Lake all Summer now my children play at Varney park and swim in Freeman lake. No matter what thechanges have been the town is the same. Full of good hard working people, loving volunteers and townpoliticians I am glad to call my friends.THIS IS WHY I LOVE AND CHOOSE CHELMSFORD!!!!- Andrew Giannino
  25. 25. The PEOPLE!- Judy Straeffer- Sheila PichetteSo many reasons why Chelmsford is where so many return to in order to raise their own families, or come torelocate. For practical reasons: it is geographically ideal for access to major highways as well as Boston, thebeaches, themountains. Chelmsford has a historic feel, but welcomes newcomers to the fold; it has homes ranging frommodest toimmaculate; it has enough business and open space to have a nice balance; and the services are estab-lished to provide safe, comfortable neighborhoods and schools.The traditions: Chelmsford July 4th Parade, Carson Road Race, the football games at the Alumni Stadium.The people: Knowing you can come home and see some of the same people you grew up with, that some ofthe teachers you hadas a student are still here along with classmates who have returned to be on faculty. Its the dialogue and de-bate ofSelectmens Meetings and the Town Meetings which have us representing our neighbors. Its the fact thatthe town has grown very much from its expansion back in the mid 20th century in a way that retains thecharm while being very much a vibrant, lively community.- Christine ScaplenQuite simply, its the people and the places:The Town employees and residents, especially the countless ones who give back to the community by vol-unteering to serve on Town boards, civic organizations (such as Camp Paul and the Rotary Club), as openspace stewards, as a member of the community band, and individually.The places: Town Common, North Common, Varney Park & Playground, Freeman Lake, Heart Pond, BruceFreeman Rail Trail, Barrett-Byam Homestead, Garrison House, Camp Paul, Veterans Park, Sunny MeadowFarm, Roberts Field, Deep Brook Reservation, Middlesex Canal, Thanksgiving Forest, Cranberry BogReservation, Bovey Woodlot, North Town Hall, Center Town Hall, Oak Hill, Chelmsford Country Club, LimeQuarry Reservation, Russell Mill Pond & Forest, George B.B. Wright Reservation, Red Wing Farm, South-well Field, Center Little League Fields, Senior Center, Bartlett Park, Bartlett Woodlot, Adams Library,MacKay Library, Highland Field, Forefathers Burrying Ground, Crooked Spring Brook, the Toll House, theOld School House, Fiske House, the Mill, the Forum, Kates Corner, Eriksons Corner, Vinal Square, DrumHill, etc.- Paul CohenTheres a lot of reasons that I like Chelmsford. I grew up in town, and watched it transform from a smallfarm-focused town to the bustling community that we have today. I graduated from Chelmsford High School(Class of 1970 - yay!),with an excellent education. Todays students still graduate with impressive honors, and proudly representour Town inall walks of life.The residents of Chelmsford are thoughtful, outgoing, and friendly. There is an abundance of talent, and anoverwhelming enthusiasm for volunteering to help with any activity. We have resources for all interests, in-cludinglibraries, parks, and trails, as well as the best restaurants in the area, and local businesses to accommodateany need.I cant imagine feeling at home anywhere else than Chelmsford. Money Magazine ranked Chelmsford as21st mostlivable town - but its always been Number 1 for me.- Pat Wojtas
  26. 26. I loved Chelmsford when I bought my first home here in 1997 because the town is close Bedford where Igrew up and has a great school system for my daughter who is now in high school. I met a lot of great peo-ple, first through involvement with the school system and with town sports starting with T-ball, then softballand basketball. I became a Girl Scout leader and loved being know around town as “Jaye’s Mom” becausemy involvement in the community was for things that involved her. I love Chelmsford now because of themany amazing people I’ve met through the Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship that my husband startedand because of the wonderful open space sites we have to enjoy.My favorite things are the Day Before Thanksgiving Walk and the Amazing Decorated Winter Tree Scav-enger Hunt,as well as the new Pumpkin Armada and Air Pumpkin events. I have a community garden plot and manynew andcherished “best” friends. There’s a common theme here – people – who have made Chelmsford my town,my home.- Joanne StanwayI chose Chelmsford because it has a wonderful school system that provided a great education for my chil-dren and enabled them to excel in college. Although my partner and I originally established our law office inLowell, when we decided to move our practice we agreed that Chelmsford would be a great place to relo-cate. That was in 1994. I also found the people friendly and approachable, not like in some towns we con-sidered when deciding where to buy our first home. I also have always been extremely impressed with theextraordinary spirit of volunteerism in town. What other community can boast having a group like the OpenSpace Stewards who spend thousands of hours maintaining open space so we can all enjopy the beautyand charm that is Chelmsford? We have a storied history and buildings that citizens take great pains to pre-serve. There were many reasons why Money Magazine/CNN designated Chelmsford the 21st best town inthe country in which to live! We see them every day in Chelmsford!Jon KurlandIt’s human nature. Sometimes folks overlook or take for granted what makes their hometown a special one,why it brought them there in the first place or why they chose to stay. I was raised in Chelmsford, its one ofthe reasons, I’m the person I am today. Its special because it had an impact on my life, your hometown isone of the things that make you who you are.Whether you are a "townie" or "blow in", live here for the great school system, the commuter friendly loca-tion, the historical characteristics, the fine restaurants, the unlimited recreational offerings or the fantastic li-braries, the common thread you find in Chelmsford is PRIDE. If you ever doubt this please take the time toattend a Thanksgiving Day football game, attend a town meeting or the fourth of July parade.I have chosen Chelmsford not only for the abundance of opportunity it brings for my family but also for thespirit of volunteerism you find in the community. No matter what challenges tomorrow brings, our citizensrise to the occasion and prevail with a quality solution.Jim Lane
  27. 27. Chelmsford’s 4th Click here for a video photo slide show put together by Larry Richardson of the photos he took
  28. 28. Photos by Scoop
  29. 29. Shuttered Chelmsford fire station could reopen By Rita Savard, 06/29/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- Closed since 2009, the South Fire Station could be back in business thiswinter, according to Town Manager Paul Cohen.During the height of the economic crisis, the town saw personnel layoffs, as well as the clo-sure of an elementary school and one of its five fire stations. But Cohen told selectmen Mon-day night that brighter days lie ahead."Were no longer seeing reductions in local aid, and the states situation is be -ginning to stabilize," Cohen said. "It looks like the worst of the economic slow - stabilize,down is behind us now, so well start to see some of our public-safety servicesrestored to the levels they should be at."at.With the help of grant money, four firefighters have been hired to replace positions lost in2009 due to attrition, Cohen said, providing the manpower the department needs to staff theSouth station.Before the station opens, the matter will have to come before Town Meeting in the fall for ap-proval.In the meantime, Fire Chief Michael Curran is still actively pursuing grants, Cohen added.An independent study performed several years ago, looking at Chelmsfords population andland area, determined that all five stations were needed to meet the required emergency re-sponse time of five minutes or less.But midyear budget cuts in fiscal 2009 left the town little choice but to close the South stationand the Westlands Elementary School.The year that followed was the busiest in the history of the ChelmsfordFire Department, according to the fiscal2010 Town Report, with 5,595 emer-gency calls, up 392 calls over the previ-ous year. Medical emergenciesaccounted for more than half the calls,2,868, and fire calls totaled 143.Despite the rocky economy and somesteep cuts, the town received a positivebond-rating report this year, with a goodoutlook for the years ahead, Cohen said.
  30. 30. Chelmsfords 26-year sewer odyssey over By Rita Savard, 07/01/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- Twenty-six years and $165 million later, the towns sewer project is com-pleted.Selectmen voted Monday night to dissolve the Sewer Commission and task the Department ofPublic Works with overseeing the towns sewer system."The mission is accomplished," Sewer Commissioner Barry Balan told officials Monday. accomplished,Since the first sewer pipes were installed in 1986, rising construction costs posed a problemspanning more than two decades. But Town Meeting approved appropriations for the project 10times, including five overrides.Over the years, the project repeatedly came under fire by residents for the steady increase inbetterment fees, which are used to assist in retiring the local share of debt for the project. Theyhave climbed from $1,200 in 1986 to about $6,500 today.After breaking ground on the last phase of the project in March 2010, the commissioners regret-fully landed back at Town Meeting in November, seeking a final $2 million.Commissioners said the added costs stemmed from unforeseeable soil and site conditions in thelast stretch that put the project in the hole.Town Manager Paul Cohen has said test borings were taken before the work began, but "thensometimes you encounter reality." reality.The payback period, which was supposed to be completed in 2029, has been pushed out to2032.Balan, who has been with the project since its inception, credited the late Jack Emerson for cre-ating a sewer plan for thepurpose of cleaning up the towns once-polluted waterways.Before sewer pipes were installed, Chelmsfords rivers and streams were being polluted by sep-tic systems leaching into the groundwater. The state slapped the town with a $1,000-a-day fineuntil a sewer plan was presented to remedy the mess.Emerson, who helped form the Sewer Commission, steered the project forward in its earlyyears. He died in 2005, after serving on the commission for 25 years.
  31. 31. Open Space Steward: Many hands needed to make light work By Joanne Stanway / correspondent GateHouse News Service Posted Jul 08, 2011 —Now that summer is officially under way, the Chelmsford Open Space Stewards are seeking peoplewho would like to help complete some projects around town. These are those personally satisfying,roll-up-your-sleeves, get your hands dirty, grab a refreshing beverage afterward kind of projects theStewards are known for. We welcome people who have various skills or some brawn and strength,as well as families, community organizations, businesses, or even individuals to help supplementprojects by working alongside to clean debris and trash. Here’s what we have coming up:· A work party tentatively July 17th (hey wait a minute – that’s my birthday) at the Cynthia MooresNature Park behind Westlands School to finish the roof on the gazebo and repair the steps. Weneed people with roofing skills (as you may recall, I learned how to do this last time), landscapingand people who can help move sand and rock.· As soon as the water level drops, we need help restoring the banks at Deep Brook Reservation.This will be a heavy lifting day using rock bars to move boulders back into place along the bank.Participants are guaranteed to get covered in mud, but it needs to be done to restore the healthyflow of the stream. While there, we need a crew to walk the stream and remove debris and trashfrom the water. This project will be done under the guidance of the Conservation Agent, ThadSoule, to make sure we do not violate any Wetlands regulations.The people building a house across from the Wright Reservation have offered to do some work toimprove the parking lot there. They figure while the heavy equipment is available across the streetthey could do something to help, which is very generous and benefits everyone who enjoys visitingWright.Some volunteers are taking on exciting projects on their own which is greatly appreciated. A gar-dener at the Walter F. Lewis Community Garden at Sunny Meadow Farm asked if they could buildthe grape arbor we’ve been talking about, buy French grapes to grow, grass the area, install a pic-nic table underneath, install hooks to hang watering cans, and maintain the area. Why, of course!We’re very excited to see this get under way.Also at Sunny Meadow, the Garden B water tank is completed, but there is a leak in the fixture thatneeds to be repaired.This Saturday July 10 we will unveil the new plaque at Heart Pond that includes a photo by localphotographer Lucy Schulz, and the words “Heart Pond, Chelmsford, MA, for the enjoyment of all”etched into granite. More improvements are due here as an Eagle Scout candidate considers con-structing a canoe launch.The beaches at Freeman Lake and Heart Pond are packed with people who are swimming and pic-nicking. A friendly reminder: cooking and alcohol are not allowed at these family friendly publicbeaches.The Fourth of July celebration in town was wonderful once again. The Stewards were excited tomarch in the parade along with several farmers on their wicked cool farm vehicles to reinforce ourpartnership and commitment to agriculture in town. We also proudly marched with members of theConservation Commission who are celebrating 50 years. Special thanks to John Smith from GreenAcres landscaping for proving some of his equipment to our program, and a couple of small tractorsfor the parade. I tried to keep Jerry the Open Space Dog in a trailer because it was so hot, but hewanted to walk and greet people along the parade route. Woof.Joanne Stanway can be reached at 978-273-1473 or Information about the Chelmsford Open Space Stewardshipcan be found at, but become a facebook fan to receive daily updates.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved