Selectmen: 9 North Road Plans Comply With Preservation Restriction
More than 300 packed the Senior Center to hear the decision.
The Board of Selectmen Monday night heard more than two hours worth of presentations before deciding plans for an office building at 9 North Road comply with a preservation restriction.
The restriction requires that any building on the property must be a barnlike structure and perserve the area's historic characteristics.
Selectman Jon Kurland made a motion to find the plans violate the preservation restriction, but nobody seconded the motion. Selectman Matt Hanson made a motion to find the plans comply with the restriction, and Chairman George Dixon seconded that motion.
At the hearing, Philip Eliopoulus, whose family owns the land and is pushing for the building's construction, told selectmen the plans conform to the preservation restriction. The building, he said, will still conserve 59 percent of the land's open space and keep, or even enhance, the pond on the property.
Former Selectman John Carson, who was on the Board of Selectmen at the time the Town Meeting approved the preservation restriction for 9 North Road, disagreed.
"We thought (the preservation restriction) would protect future development," he said. "The language could have been tighter."
Carson said the plans call for only small structures on the property, which does not include a two-story, 15,000-square-foot office building.
"The intention was to preserve ... open space and the aesthetic (look) of the neighborhood," he said.
More than 30 residents lined up to speak at the hearing.
"This piece of land has been a habitat for Canadian Geese, it's not a place for a picnic or star gazing," said resident Tom Gilroy. "How many people have done that recently? It's only seen by bank employees, the Fire Department, and a few abutters ... It will enhance the land, bring jobs and add to the tax base. Can anyone really object to the economic and fiscal benefits?"
Resident Fran McDougal said selectmen must look at the preservation restriction as a document, not as what selectmen intended when it was written in 1978.
"It's not up to us to say, 'they really meant this,'" she said.
Resident Mary Donovan said the town should just take the parcel by eminent domain.
"I have used the park my entire 46 years of living here," she said.
John Carson told selectmen they "can no longer hide behind executive sessions and press releases."If you find it violates one article (in the restriction), it violates the restriction. It is time to stop this project while it can be stopped."