Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Common Sense Goes On Vacation
"They're still gonna hang Pa even though they got new evidence!!!"
"They say they don't have to reconsider according to parliamentary procedure if they don't want to."
"But, there are new facts that must be be considered!"
"Tough. What do you want the head stone to read?"
The above dialogue is a scene from the continuing local production of, "Common Sense Goes On Vacation".
In our last episode, residents and an attorney representing them, questioned an action made by the Board of Selectmen last winter. According to the Town Common newspaper the attorney says that the public was not properly notified that a vote would be held for the allocation of 60 gallons per day of sewer flow to the property at 173 Main Street. The property is set to become a gas station, and convenience store.
"The hearing was not properly advertised, and there was a failure to let the public know what was going on," the attorney for twenty-six residents, James Decoulo told the selectmen at the recent December 13th meeting.
Initially denied in August of 2009, the towns attorney urged the BOS reconsider the vote in March because they would loose if the denial was challenged.
Here's how it went down. Initially denied the sewer flow, the decision was then reviewed by the town. The review included all the things one reviews like meeting minutes, and the existing sewer bylaw. It seems that a property has the right to connect to the sewer if the property existed before December 31, 2001. Apparently, the land at 173 Main Street has been on record since 1992, and this is in contention with the attorney and the residents. They insist the parcel came into existence in December 2008, and they have a deed to prove it.
"It's difficult to make an legal opinion if you don't have all the facts before you", Decoulo stated.
The current town administrator, Shaun Suhoski, says the property was found in town records from 1992.
OK. Time out. Time for a do over. Looks like both parties have conflicting information, and a decision has been based on only one of those pieces of information. Logically, one would expect both pieces of information to be examined, not just one, even if the opposing piece came onto the scene later. This is called common sense.
Now, here is where it really gets bizarre. Selectman Tom Creamer is credited with stating that under parliamentary procedure the vote to award the sewer connection could only be reconsidered if a member in the prevailing side in the original vote made a motion to reconsider. There are only two members on the board in that position, Tom Creamer, and Mary Blanchard, and as was stated in the Town Common newspaper, "both are firmly against making a motion to reconsider." Both went on to explain why they were against reconsidering the vote. The newspaper stated that both selectmen said that the gas station owners followed proper procedure.
Since when has following proper procedure assured a vote in ones favor? Think about this.
The selectmen also stated it would be an appropriate use of the land. Now, that may be true, but it is also a matter of opinion, and there are twenty-six residents, and their attorney that feel otherwise.
Creamer is also credited with saying, "It's not the role of the Board of Selectmen to trump zoning bylaws.", and I agree, but I also feel that if there conflicting information regarding a decision made, a vote taken, that comes to light after the fact, that it must be heard, and considered even if it means a reversal of the original vote.
Inconvenient? Yep. Embarrassing if the vote is reversed? You betcha, but it's only right.
And, that is the gist of this mornings post. It is not so much about the original vote, but taking steps to correct a decision possibly made on bad information, or not all the right information. In order for there not to be a feeling of the old wink, and nod being done with the vote, and refusal to reconsider the vote, it needs to be reconsidered with the new information. If the new information proves invalid, so be it, at least all parties have had an equal opportunity to make their case, even after almost a year.
Take this for what it's worth. Something like this has a way of tainting ones credibility forever, if not properly pursued.
Think about it.