As you have undoubtedly noticed, bulldozers are busy at work ripping up Center Park. You may have the power to stop it, but action is needed quickly. Selectmen Matt Hanson and George Dixon need to hear from you immediately. Tell them you want them to sue for an immediate injunction to stop the destruction of the park, and to enforce the deed restrictions in land court that mandate the land remain an open space conservation area!
The town Building Inspector’s office issued a construction permit on Tuesday to the Eliopoulos LLC. A Land Court judge has ruled that, until an appeal is heard (which will take about a month) he is only granting the Board of Selectmen standing in Land Court to enforce the deed restriction. He will not allow us as individual citizens to sue to enforce the deed restriction which names us specifically as the grantees! It defies common sense but it is the reality.
Reports are that Jon Kurland wants to act in all our interests, stop the bulldozers, and enforce the deed restrictions that make the Eliopoulos gambit unlawful. Good for Jon! But he needs Matt Hanson and/or George Dixon to vote with him. Eric Dahlberg is busy dialing for dollars with Eliopoulos cronies for his state campaign funding. Sean Scanlon refused to act before resigning. It is squarely up to Matt and George to do the right thing.
All Matt and George have to do is say, "Yes. I vote to force the deed restriction." It's not asking a lot.
Remember, folks, there’s no penalty for unlawful conduct unless someone chooses to enforce the law. So far, your Town Manager, the Conservation Commission (whom he appoints), the Historic District Commission (whom he appoints), and the Planning Board have all rolled over for the Eliopoulos’ gambit. Hanson and Dixon have been getting an earful from Eliopoulos yes-men. They need to hear from you.
Matt Hanson was elected in a landslide by promising to listen to residents and protect your interests. He personally promised to me and many others that he would act ethically and act on our behalf. So far he has betrayed our trust. There is still barely time for him to redeem himself.
George Dixon is the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. He needs to move on this and move on it now. The Eliopoulos’ assets are protected by their LLC legal entity. If they continue construction, then even if a court eventually rules against them they may simply walk away and leave us with the mess. They are counting on that to force us to allow the project to go to completion.
The Planning Board and the appointed boards have shown that there is an enormous disconnect between many self-absorbed town officials and the town’s residents. The Town Manager operates as though he views the town as an operating budget rather than a place to live. The Selectmen are forced to view the world through that skewed lens unless you contact them and remind them that they need to protect your interests over the interests of a well-connected predatory developer.
Please tell them you want them to act today. Not next week, not next month. Now.
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew
P.S. One reason the Building Inspector will cite for issuing the construction permit is that the Planning Board confirmed with him yet again that they have no concerns about the project. Town Manager Paul Cohen gave him the green light, apparently unwilling to spend your tax dollars defending your interests against a sure challenge from Eliopoulos if the permit was denied. Despite widespread outrage, the Planning Board and Town Manager continue to show contempt for your interests and utter disregard for the deed restriction which states that the land shall “remain an open space conservation area and pond for the general benefit of the grantees [residents].”
After just a few days of return mail, we have hundreds of affidavits for the recall of Susan Carter-Sullivan and George Zaharoolis, two of the Planning Board members who have most blatantly disregarded the town charter and bylaws. But because of the way the town charter structures the recall, we need as many signers as possible. (Only affidavit signers are eligible to be mailed recall petitions by the Town Clerk’s office.) So please get your affidavits in to Chelmsford Better Not Bigger, PO Box 156, Chelmsford MA 01824.
Affidavits are available online: