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April 11, 2006
Regular Session 7:35 pm
Mr. MacIver, Mr. Edmundson, Ms. Tully
Public Hearing on the Request of Verizon New England to relocate Pole 16 on Kilby St.
Mr. Regolino explained that when the crew from CashmanBalfourBeatty went to place the gates for the railroad crossing they found that the new Verizon pole had been placed too close to the railroad right of way to allow the gates to operate properly. Mr. MacIver noted that the Bleidorn's, who opposed the original location and were satisfied with the current placement of the pole had been contacted and were in agreement with the proposed plan.
Voted - to approve the request of Verizon New England to relocate Pole #16 on Kilby Street 45 feet easterly of existing Pole #14 in order to provide additional clearance for railroad gates associated with the Greenbush project.
In January the Planning Board submitted a warrant article calling for the creation of a new process for the granting of Special Permits. Mr. MacIver attended the first hearing and gathered there was a sense of frustration on the part of the Planning Board that the hard work done on the site plan review was not necessarily reflected in the Zoning Board of Appeals decisions on Special Permits. On some level this proposal is supposed to address the concern of the pace of development in town. Second point of the proposed article is to put the Special Permit decision in the hands of an elected Planning Board rather than an appointed board. Mr. MacIver said he is not entirely convinced that this is the right tool to solve the problem or that the information has been adequately aired in an open forum. Of the towns surveyed by the Planning Board some are pretty pure "planning" for special permits; about 7 or 8 towns are pretty much Zoning Board; and the remainder split the authority between the two boards. Mr. MacIver suggested a study committee be convened to study measures that might be used to manage town growth and look at all the issues around elected versus appointed boards. He noted that the town has an excellent track record of convening study committees that are able to work for a short periods of time and come up with some recommendations.
Ms. Tully remarked that it is obvious that there are some issues that need to be addressed. Everyone has put in a great deal of hard work but all the possible solutions to the problem have not been thought through. This does not necessarily address the growth and development issues. All of these projects would have gone through, some with different conditions, but they would have gone through. Ms. Tully expressed concern that the public might be misled and think this is a magic bullet that will cure growth and development issues. She said that communication is the biggest problem - the intentions were good on both sides but the communication was not there. The article puts all the authority with one board - Ms. Tully is not sure that gives the town the right mix. The compromise makes the Planning Board conditions binding. This compromise is between the Planning board and the Advisory Committee but the two affected parties need to be in agreement. If we try to impose something on another board we will not have a great deal of success. What is needed is for the two boards come up with the best product for the town. Mr. McLaughlin's proposal offers some communication between the two boards; the Planning Board and ZBA have not explored all the options. Ms. Tully concurred with the recommendation to form a committee and she expressed confidence that the Town can count on the professionalism of the two boards to continue to work cooperatively during the year the study is ongoing.
Mr. Edmundson thanked all those involved in the process noting that the Planning Board had raised some very good issues which he spent a lot of time studying. Mr. Edmundson said that while he shares with the Planning Board the concerns about the pace of development he is not convinced the original proposal would alter the development pace. He is concerned the communication between the two boards is not all it should be and is interested in helping the Planning Board to draft amendments to the By-law. Mr. Edmundson commented that the entire process is not friendly for abutters or other interested parties- there are too many meetings for people to go to. It is his recommendation that the process be made simpler and there be suggestions that slow down development in town. Mr. Edmundson remarked that he had seen 10 e-mails on the subject today - that says the cake is not yet baked. The Board agreed a study committee, appointed by the Moderator and to include one member of the Planning Board and one member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, would be the best approach.
Voted - that the Town establish a committee to study existing zoning by-law provisions relative to Special Permits and other related regulatory measures that might be utilized to manage town growth; and the respective roles of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals in approving, denying or conditioning Special Permits or utilizing such other related regulatory measures, in order to determine what changes may be made to improve and strengthen administration of the permit-granting process and promote growth management policies more beneficial to the interests of the Town. The committee, which shall consist of persons knowledgeable about such matters, shall consist of five members appointed, and the chairman designated, by the Moderator; one member of the Planning Board or their designee; and one member of the Zoning Board of Appeals or their designee. The committee, which shall be known as the Zoning Permits Study Committee, shall consider the collective and individual views of these Boards, and members thereof, the views of others in the community, and practices followed in comparable communities, and submit a report to the next annual town meeting, together with any recommended changes.
The Board left to join the Advisory Committee.
The Board resumed its regular session.
Mr. Killory advised the Board that the School Committee and Superintendent would like to submit a statement of interest to the School Building Authority for the proposed school building projects. It is expected that a formal application will be submitted in July 2007. The request from the new state agency is that the school department defines the problem. The new elementary school request is based on the criteria of the overcrowding as it now exists and the anticipated overcrowding based on projections of school enrollment. The Plymouth River Foster and Middle School are also eligible under the obsolescence criteria; the Middle School also has need of modernization. This is just the first step in the process. The School Building Authority has received some statements of interest but the plan is to get Hingham's statement of interest in as early in the process as possible.
Voted - to authorize the Superintendent to submit to the Massachusetts School Building Authority the Statement of Interest Form dated April 11, 2006 for Plymouth River School located at 200 High Street, Foster School located at 55 Downer Avenue, South Elementary School located at 831 Main Street and Hingham Middle School located at 1103 Main Street which describes and explains the deficiencies and priority categories for which an application may be submitted in the future including current and future overcrowding at all four schools, replacement or additions to obsolete buildings in order to provide a full range of programs at Foster School, Plymouth River School and Hingham Middle School and modernization of heating system at Hingham Middle School. It is further specifically acknowledged that by submitting this Statement of Interest Form, the Massachusetts School Building Authority in no way guarantees the acceptance of an application, the awarding of a grant or any other funding commitment from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or commits the Town of Hingham to filing an application for funding with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
Community Preservation Committee Articles
Pilot Loan Program - Mr. Dubuque, President of the South Shore Housing, a regional non-profit agency that has been working in southeastern Massachusetts for over 30 years advised the Board that the agency manages a number of affordable rental programs. South Shore Housing also has experience in the administration of programs designed to help families and individuals repair or modify their homes. South Shore Housing acts as an administering agency whose purpose is to assist low and moderate-income people to acquire housing or maintain housing. Mr. Dubuque suggested the Community Preservation Committee and affordable housing committees should concentrate on standards and oversee a contract with an appropriate organization. He recommended that a request for proposals be issued to find an agency to manage the process. The cost of administration would be approximately $12,000 initially plus about $750 per loan closed. This fee would provide someone to evaluate the applications and make sure the repairs or modifications get done properly. Mr. Edmundson mentioned that at a previous meeting there was some discussion about having the banks involved and asked where that stands. Ms. Cole said the Committee has not spoken to the banks. Mr. Dubuque said the town could make this loan betterment and that would put it in front of the first mortgage. Ms. Talmage said the committee is recommending approval of a program as a pilot program that will be useful for citizens of the town. Mr. MacIver noted that there are banks interested in the community reinvestment act. He suggested the Committee ask the banks about the threshold for some of the programs. Ms. Tully remarked that there were many unanswered questions when this was first brought forward. This discussion answered many of those concerns.
Voted - to support the recommendation of the Advisory Committee for Article 25 in the amount of $175,000 for loans of up to $30,000 per qualifying homeowner.
Ms. Talmage explained that a developer is purchasing the property located at 730 Main Street. The Committee is working towards an signed agreement with the developer. Four neighbors have pledged to protect their backlands with conservation restrictions if the Town purchases the backland property at 730 Main Street. If the back lot were approved and built the land would be about $950,000. Mr. MacIver asked if there is any way that the Board could rely on Town Counsel's opinion that the back parcel is not a developable lot. Ms. Talmage said the CPC looked very carefully at the planning and zoning issues. There are issues regarding whether it conforms or if permits could be obtained. Mr. MacIver said it would be an abomination to ruin that view. Ms. Tully cautioned that developers develop and it is always possible that this could be developed as long as a developer owns this property. The one way you know it is going to be protected is if the town buys it. The neighbors are being remarkably generous and very community spirited. It will protect that side of the street. Mr. Edmundson and Mr. MacIver requested an executive session to discuss this property transaction. The executive session will be at the end of tonight's session.
Hingham Center Cemetery - Mr. Tondorf- Dick submitted the proposal to replace a fence at the Hingham Center Cemetery. The original cast iron fence was taken down to support the war effort during World War II. The Historical Commission sees it to be a part of its responsibility to assist the cemeteries although the Town does not own or maintain the cemeteries. These cemeteries are not endowed in any major way. The basis of the request was twofold: to provide a fence that was appropriate to a major piece of the town and, secondly, to put together a preservation scope for 270 of the markers identified by the Fanins as being significantly deteriorated. Ms. Tully commented that this would enhance the ride down Main Street.
Voted - in favor of the recommendation under Article 24.
Voted - by roll call vote, to adjourn to executive session without the intention to return for the purpose of discussing a real estate transaction.
Ms. Tully - yes
Mr. Edmundson - yes
Mr. MacIver - yes
Open session adourned 9:25 pm.
Betty Foley, Clerk