Earlier this week, the Boston Globe published a brief article detailing some of the issues surrounding the recall of four selectmen in Chelmsford. The group opposing accountability and supporting the actions of Phil Eliopoulos and Paul Cohen in the 9 North Road scandal, have set up a facebook page where they bolster each others’ fatuous assertions. The conversation shown below is interesting for several reasons.
Firstly, it shows the arrogance and duplicity that certain Planning Board members have displayed on a regular basis. Colleen Stansfield and Ann McGuigan state that the Eliopoulos Edifice could have been built without the special permits they granted, which is flat out untrue. It also shows the nitpicking semantics that these officials have relied on to try – unsuccessfully I might add – to bamboozle the good people of the town about what really goes on in Town Hall. This time it’s real estate lawyer and Eliopoulos apologist Paul Haverty, who was nonexistent in the public discourse until point men Jon Kurland and Paul Cohen shredded their own credibility by lying too boldly and too often to the good people of the town.
In the thread below, Mr. Haverty complains about the Globe reporter’s use of the word “variances” to describe all of the special exemptions that were granted to the Eliopoulos LLC by various boards but especially the Planning Board in the form of eight special permits circumventing the zoning bylaw. Mr. Haverty relies on semantics to assert that no variances were granted.
But Paul Haverty goes beyond quibbling over the use of the word variance by the Globe reporter. He fulminates to the reporter that “you suggest that special exceptions were made for this project, which is simply not accurate.” That’s an outright lie. Of course many exceptions were made for the project. The Conservation Commission granted an exception regarding setback from the pond, in addition to excepting the developer from the requirements of the Conservation bylaw to show no adverse effect on conservation, recreation and aesthetics; and of course the Planning Board granted 8 special permits overriding all kinds of zoning regulations. Haverty contends that these aren’t really “exceptions” because they’re “routine.” But not anyone can waltz in and get special permits to build on protected aquifers. Otherwise there would be no point in protecting aquifers. Not everyone can waltz in and get special permits for dead end parking that violates public safety regulations, otherwise there would be no point in creating public safety regulations. Special permits, despite Haverty’s big lie to the Globe reporter, are most definitely exceptions to the zoning bylaw. In English, we call them a variance from the usual requirements. In legalese, they are called special permits or exceptions. Haverty can’t have it both ways. If he’s going to insist on legally precise language, he can’t then claim that no exceptions were made for the Eliopoulos LLC.
If you go to the special permits online: https://backup.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=896d6a8a5e676fb66f9e and you click on and read, say, the first one, which is the aquifer special permit, it provides exceptions to the requirements of the Aquifer Protection District, which is a zoning bylaw. So, this special permit allows the developer to bypass the zoning bylaw in the same way a variance does. But it’s not called a variance, it’s called a “special permit.”
The others are similar.
Here's a summary of all the permits, which summary refers constantly to the zoning bylaw: https://backup.filesanywhere.com/vwr/ELinkvwr.aspx?&FILEID=1449356&PFI=1449356&NAME=PB_Special_Permit_3-18-10.pdf&PATH=\CHELMSFORD\Town%20of%20Chelmsford\Board%20of%20Selectmen\9%20North%20Road\PB_Special_Permit_3-18-10.pdf
These special permits are clearly providing exceptions to the zoning bylaw, i.e., zoning variances.
So, who is real estate lawyer Paul Haverty and why is he going playing these games? Haverty’s own web site bio reads as follows:
“Paul Haverty's practice focuses on the representation of developers before the various local boards with permitting authority for construction projects in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (including zoning boards of appeal, planning boards and conservation commissions). Paul has particular experience representing developers of comprehensive permit developments pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40B, both before local boards of appeal and before the Housing Appeals Committee. Additionally, Paul has represented developers seeking project approvals of Smart Growth Zoning projects...”
Remember that “Smart Growth Forum” sponsored by the Community Development Office a week ago? I find it very interesting that Town Manager Cohen and the Community Development office continue to push the illusory “benefits” of continued growth, when every major study over the past decade has indicated otherwise. But it's undeniably "smart" for real estate professionals like Paul Haverty, Phil Eliopoulos, Dennis Ready et al to support such growth.
Mark Bobrowski, the lawyer for the Eliopoulos LLC, is another big-time real estate lawyer, representing developers of multi-million dollar projects across the state. Haverty and Bobrowski have appeared together for many years supporting each others’ arguments in multiple cases, including a huge “smart growth” project in Gardner, MA that the Gardner News described as: “Essentially, city officials would write a separate new zoning law just for the 114-acre area containing Wolons’ development to qualify for Chapter 40R.”
The article goes on to state, “Wolons [the developer] attorney Theodore Regnante and Paul Haverty and consultants Mark Bobrowski and Lisa Mead, two attorneys Wolons is reimbursing Gardner for, explained the state laws and their potential benefits."
Mr. Haverty has been appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals by Paul Cohen. When Dick McClure appealed to the ZBA to hear his appeal of the fraudulent land acquisition and permit approval process, Haverty argued strongly to the other members of the board that McClure should be denied standing to even make his presentation. A couple of other ZBA members pointed out the pitfalls in doing so, but eventually the ZBA voted unanimously to deny McClure standing to even present to the board.
Mr. Cohen, who personally observed that end-run by Mr. Haverty, was grateful enough to appoint him shortly thereafter to the Master Plan Implementation Committee. So Mr. Haverty, whose job is to lobby for and make money from continued development, is now a voting member on the committee which will make implementation decisions about zoning and development policies for the town, and will also have first knowledge of threats and opportunities for developers. Perhaps that’s why he promulgates misinformation in the thread below, in order to mislead the Globe reporter and also whip up the self-righteous indignation of Chelmsford officials who support development even in the form of graft, and even when it’s detrimental to the long term quality of our community life.
Read the insider Facebook thread for yourself:
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew