In the Arena: Next time, do the research
Memo to Greenfield’s “anti-growth” faction: The next time you file a petition for a zoning amendment that would basically grind to a halt any large-scale development in town, you might want to make sure it is consistent with existing state law.
Late last year, a petition was submitted to the Greenfield Town Clerk’s office that sought to amend the town’s zoning law to add the requirement that all Major Development Review projects be contingent on an affirmative vote of the both the entire town and the precinct in which the proposed development would be sited. If either vote were to come back “no,” the project would not be able to be resubmitted for consideration for 730 days.
Those who desire to see this town transported back to the 1950s are probably drooling over an idea like this, but they might want to think about investing in bibs because Greenfield Planning Director Eric Twarog says the proposal is illegal under existing state law.
“In my opinion, it goes against MGL Chapter 40A and other Massachusetts statutes that give authority to land use boards for land use decisions,” Twarog said. “They all have duties spelled out under the law, so this would go against that.”
The petition was submitted to the clerk’s office by Congress Street resident Garrett Connelly, who also was the driving force behind the plastic bag ban, the fallout from which the council’s Appointments and Ordinance Committee will deal with Monday when it meets with a group of understandably upset Greenfield business owners.
Committee Chairman and Precinct 5 Councilor David Singer said the council has already been notified by the town’s attorney that the proposed amendment violates the town’s charter and would necessitate a charter change — which isn’t going to happen if it also is found to be in violation of state law.
“(The charter) doesn’t allow for the procedure, so it’s pretty much dead at this point,” Singer said. “I don’t think we’ll touch it.”
Let’s hope he’s right.
The first big race of the 2014 Greenfield election season began took shape this week when it was announced that former councilor and local attorney Isaac Mass had pulled nomination papers to run for the at-large seat occupied by Council President Mark Wisnewski.
Mass, as we now know, was summarily rejected by the council for an open seat on the Planning Board last year and that incident — and the reaction to same — was what ultimately nudged him toward a return to the arena.
“I had such an outpouring of people coming up to me over the last few months looking to have me involved again locally that I took some time to consider it,” Mass said. “I think it would be good to have a diversity of views on the council again.”
Not surprisingly, Mass isn’t thrilled with a number of the initiatives being pushed by some councilors, most notably, the aforementioned ban on plastic shopping bags.
“I would have hoped that would have been discharged by now to put the business community at ease, but that hasn’t happened,” Mass said.
Mass says he would have rather seen voters, not the council, decide whether that body and the School Committee should be paid stipends, an idea he says he supports in principle. Whether Isaac gets another council term remains to be seen, but one thing we do know is that he won’t be serving with Singer, who will not be a candidate in 2014.
“I did a similar thing when I was on the School Committee, sort of a self-imposed term limit,” Singer said. “I think two terms is enough, and it’s time to let someone else from Precinct 5 take the reins for a while, which will allow me to get involved on some other level within the community.”
If you see me walking around town wearing an “I’m Ready For Hillary” hat, rest assured, I haven’t lost my mind.
The hat was a gag holiday gift from my very lovely, and liberal, radio compadre Liz Fisk and, for some reason, I can’t seem to take it off. I’m not sure who is doing the campaign product selection for Clinton’s presidential campaign, but this is easily the most comfortable winter hat I have ever owned.
Wearing it around town has also been an interesting sociopolitical exercise, with reactions ranging from a thumbs-up to a look that I’m guessing is similar to what one would generate after slugging a cup of month-old egg nog.
Love her or hate her, it seems no one is indifferent when it comes to Clinton, but I’m still not taking the hat off — at least until N.J. Gov. Chris Christie puts out a line of his own.
Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.