As you may know already, the Zoning Board of appeals hearing on September 16 was a bust. The ZBA voted to require the applicant, Dick McClure, to provide written evidence or in-person testimony of an expert witness that he has standing as an applicant. One of the board members was adamant on this point, and although another board member pointed out that the ZBA has never previously made such a requirement, the entire board voted unanimously to deny the applicant standing to request a vote on whether to annul the town’s construction permit for the “Epsilon LLC” (Eliopoulos) development on Center Park.
The upshot for the appeal of Epsilon’s construction permit is that now the applicant has to go to court to show standing, go back to the ZBA with a ruling of standing so that the ZBA can formally refuse to annul the permit (is there any question on that outcome?) and finally allow the applicant to go to court to challenge the town’s permit.
All of this, of course, will take 6 months to a year or more. In the meantime, you all see the construction continuing. Our Village Green, envisioned as a park and open conservation area for the benefit of all the town’s residents, has been turned into the senior Eliopoulos’ “present to his family,” as his daughter put it.
In addition, the Board of Selectmen rubber stamped the pro-development Master Plan draft on Monday, Oct. 4. The Planning Board, including Master Plan Committee Chair and selectman candidate Jim Lane, unanimously voted to adopt the pro-development Master Plan draft as well.
We desperately need a selectman who is not a blind proponent of development interests. Jim Lane voted for every special permit for the Epsilon Group’s obliteration of our historic Village Green and supports substantial further growth including high-rise development (“to preserve open space”) and the use of 40B to build high-density housing wherever possible (while “emphasizing redevelopment”). Jerry Loew, on the other hand, is the first selectman candidate to openly question the value of planning for growth rather than planning to stem growth. He is the first selectman candidate to openly state that Chelmsford should try to become better without assuming that it means becoming bigger and more urban.
You can support Jerry Loew’s candidacy simply and effectively with a lawn sign. Click here to go to his site and request one.
Now the battle will shift to the Planning Board and Town Meeting, where the outrageous zoning recommendations of the master plan would have to be implemented. We’re working hard to also make sure that the Planning Board recall goes ahead smoothly and that we have the opportunity to place some people on that board who really believe in a better not bigger approach to planning Chelmsford’s future.
Although the litigation against the clearly unlawful construction at Center Park continues to be stymied by legal technicalities, the political process to make sure this sort of nonsense stops remains in the hands of voters. Of course, the Town Manager, a non-resident pro-growth zealot, still appoints the vast majority of board members who facilitate his efforts to play urban planner. But Jerry Loew has advocated for changes to the bylaws and to the Town Charter. For example, the ZBA, the Conservation Commission, and/or the Historic District Commission should be elected rather than appointed – and therefore accountable to the residents, which right now they are not. What a fine idea! But he can’t work for it unless he’s elected. To ask for a Jerry Loew lawn sign, click here.
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew