Your phone calls and e-mails to selectmen Matt Hanson and George Dixon have had an impact. Confusing advice from Town Counsel and apparent uncertainty about court rulings to date had them remaining inactive while the developer of the Center Park project has been moving at lightning speed.
After hearing from many of you, both Matt and George have at least indicated that they better understand the situation: that they are now the sole authority that the judge will allow to sue to enforce the multiple deed restrictions on the property, and that not to act is to essentially favor the development of the property. The bad news is that still, neither one has definitively decided to act.
I honestly do not know what the problem is. It is their responsibility and duty to defend the interests of residents and the town’s future. Perhaps one problem is an often repeated strategy from Town Counsel and the Town Manager to spend no money defending the town’s interests against predatory development.
However, in any case, legal costs should not be a factor here. The dollar costs to bring suit are not great, and this is our Village Green at stake. In any case, we pay taxes for the town to uphold the law and protect us, not just from criminals but also from predatory development. It is an unassailable position to bring the matter before the court to rule on the preservation restrictions and enforce them. It protects both the developer and the town from the risks of the construction that is going on pending appeals of the Planning Board permits that will likely take months. And it is an indefensible position to do nothing, abdicating their authority and responsibility to uphold the law.
All Matt and George have to do is to join Jon Kurland in saying, “Yes. I vote to enforce the deed restrictions.” It’s not asking a lot. George Dixon is the chair of the Board, and only he can call a public meeting to discuss and vote. So far he has refused to do so, and he has not explained why he continues to refuse to do so. Matt refuses to call for a meeting or indicate that he will vote yes to enforce the restrictions, which would place great pressure on the chair to call a meeting. So both are playing Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burns.
Don’t accept the tired excuses that the deed restrictions are “poorly written” or that it’s the Planning Board’s fault that the town is in this position, etc. The situation is what it is. Poorly written or not, there are at least three deed restrictions which clearly appear to be violated by this development. If any are found to be ambiguous by the court, the previous selectmen who drafted the restrictions have indicated that they would be willing, in fact eager, to provide additional parol evidence supporting the intent of the restrictions.
To those of you who have already called, thank you. The selectmen now know there is a great deal of concern in the community about this sick situation. If you haven’t already called, please call and/or e-mail and tell them you want them to act today. They can no longer pretend that they don’t understand the intent of the restrictions, or the legal procedure to enforce the restrictions. Both Matt Hanson and George Dixon have the power to join Jon Kurland in calling for these deed restrictions to be brought before a court for interpretation and enforcement.
Folks, ask yourself some simple questions: if you wanted to violate the setback provisions or deed restrictions on your property, do you think the Planning Board would issue you permits? Do you think that the town’s Building Inspector would issue you a construction permit if your deed had restrictions on it requiring that your lot remain an open space conservation area? Do you think the town would let you build without bringing suit against you?
I am disheartened by the fact that both George and Matt will not answer the simple question: Why won’t you bring this matter before the court? They communicate, but never answer that question. If you obtain the answer, please let me know.
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew