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Petition Drive Forces a Recall Election

Special recall election to take place between 60 and 90 days.

Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen announced Friday on the Chelmsford town website that the Board of Registrars certified the necessary 10 percent signatures to force a recall election of four Board of Selectmen members on the recall petition.

The board members to be included in a recall election include George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Jon Kurland, and Pat Wojtas. According to Cohen, 2,363 signatures are necessary to account for 10 percent of the registered Chelmsford voters.

“The Board of Registrars have certified the following respective amounts of recall petition signatures: George Dixon: 2,504; Matt Hanson: 2,537; Jon Kurland: 2,523; and Pat Wojtas: 2,495,” Cohen wrote.

According to the Town Charter, the town clerk has five business days from the date of the recall signature certification to submit notice of the certification to the Board of Selectmen. The Board of Selectmen has five business days from the time it is notified by the town clerk to schedule a recall election, provided members do not decide to resign.

The Board of Selectmen will most likely schedule the recall election at its upcoming meeting to take place on Monday, May 23, according to Cohen. The Town Charter specifies that a recall election must take place between 60 and 90 days from the time that a recall effort has been certified by the town clerk.

“If any other town election is to occur within one hundred days after the date of the certificate, the selectmen shall postpone the holding of the recall election to the date of such other election,” according to the Town Charter.

The Town Charter outlines exactly how the recall ballot will be worded:

“The form of the question to be voted upon shall be substantially as follows: "Shall [here insert the name and title of the elective officer whose recall is sought] be recalled?"”

Town officers are recalled by a simple majority of affirmative votes in the recall election. If a town officer is not recalled, the Town Charter states that no recall petitions can be filed against said officer for at least 90 days.

Town reps recently voted in T to amend this provision of the recall effort, so that, if passed by the State, no recall petitions can be filed against an officer for at least one year who is not recalled in a recall election.

Eileen Cushing-Craig May 14, 2011 at 02:00 PM
I am saddened that this issue continues to occupy our duly elected town officials, and consume valuable town resources that could otherwise be directed to more worthy causes, such as the schools, the roads, the fire and police department. I fervently hope that when the election happens, all four elected officials are confirmed in their positions and this matter is closed permanently. Please let our town get back to dealing with the critical issues, such as public safety and education as soon as possible.
Tom Maggiacomo May 14, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Maybe our town officials will think twice about any shady deals next time.
Jon Kurland May 14, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Tom - With all due respect, there have been no "shady deals" especially as it pertains to the sale of the North Road property by Eastern Bank to Epsilon, LLC. I will gladly discuss this with you if you wish. We can meet anywhere you want and I'll go over the entire history of North Road or answer any questions that you have. You can also get a great deal of information on the town website if you look under "documents" there is an entire section on North Road if you look under "Board of Selectmen" including a letter from the State Ethics Commission indicating that there were no ethical violations by Phillip Eliopoulos with respect to the North Road purchase. There are many unsubstantiated accusations flying around that have no basis in fact. I am sorry that you don't have faith in your volunteer elected officials but I can assure you that we are not in this for ourselves and we only want to do what's best for Chelmsford.
Claire Petrillo May 14, 2011 at 10:32 PM
What a shame so much money has been wasted on this effort. With funds being so strapped for the economy, it saddens me to think of all the other great causes that money would have been better spent on.
Tom Maggiacomo May 16, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Well, so far....., more than 10% of the registered voters seem to think "something fishy is going on". There is no good reason why the building on 9 North Road should be there! But..., we'll see what happens with the recall!
John Gault May 16, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Mr Kurland, No disrespect intended, but in your post you state that the elected officials want to do what is best for Chelmsford. Can you please state how the building of 9 North Road improved Chelmsford? Will there be a huge tax benefit? Was the town responsible for maintaining the property before the sale and we will now save money that way? To be honest, I saw that plot as a piece that NO ONE seemed to use. During the 4th of July, I remember the hot air balloon ride was there, but I can't seem to think of anyone else ever using it. However, I don't know how putting the huge building (which is not barnlike in appearance to me) makes Chelmsford a better place. My two cents.
Jon Kurland May 17, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Tom- My offer stands. Why are you unwilling to meet with me to discuss this?
Jon Kurland May 17, 2011 at 01:59 AM
John Galt - I agree with you that the intent of the Preservation Restriction was to prevent this type of project. However, as an attorney, I can tell you that the PR was very poorly drafted and that this project will not be stopped or overturned because of what was written in 1978. In fact, I voted against the project because I wanted a judge to rule on it. It was and is my belief that there was not a high likelihood of stopping the project even if the Board of Selectmen unanimously opposed it but that was the only chance we had. People seem to think that the town sold this land to Epsilon. That is not what happened. This was a private sale from Eastern Bank to Epsilon, LLC just like many other private sales that occur in town EXCEPT that we all thought that the PR would preclude construction. Chelmsford will get taxes on the building, but the town was not responsible for maintaining the property since it has been privately owned for decades. If you have any questions, I extend my offer to you, as I did with Tom Maggicomo (and anyone else who wants to meet with me) to meet with me over a cup of coffee or anywhere else to fully discuss North Road and the recall.
Jim Molinari May 17, 2011 at 09:37 AM
I wouldn't mind discussing it in person as opposed to reading bits and pieces on the internet. I'm available the next couple of nights. Is there a way to get in touch with you?
Jon Kurland May 17, 2011 at 11:52 AM
Jim - Would you like to meet at the Brickhouse Center Pizza Grill tomorrow night around 7:30 or if you have an alternative location, please let me know? Or you can call me after 7:00 p.m. tomorrow at 978-250-0631 if you prefer to talk on the phone? I, for one, like face-to-face myself. I will gladly answer any questions that you have. Just let me know your preference. Thanks for giving me this opportunity.
Jim Molinari May 17, 2011 at 02:31 PM
7:30 tomorrow works fine for me, as does the location. Thanks for taking time out. I'll see you tomorrow.
Jon Kurland May 17, 2011 at 07:06 PM
See you then. Also, if anyone else wants to listen to me and ask me questions and join us, I will gladly respond.
Jerry Loew May 18, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Hello Jon: I would like to come to Brickhouse and will try to make it. Thank you for the offer. Here is my question. In the August 2010 Open Meeting when the selectman took a vote on whether to put the qpreservation question to Land Court, many people asked why the land could not be taken by emminent domain, Now according to what I have read, the selecman knew before the final purchase that the bank had said that they were willing to talk to the town about purchasing the property. No official at that meeting said , that at some point we could have potentially purchased the land but we did not entertain it because....... I have heard some reasons on the street but they all seem to be weak to ridiculous. Can you answer this for me? It would be very helpful to me. Thank You, Jerry Loew
Jon Kurland May 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Jerry - In order to take land by eminent domain the town would have had to pay fair market value which would have been $480,000 and that would have included the Emerson House which was part of the same parcel. We did not want the Emerson House and we have no use for that building. It is an historical building that would have cost untold amounts of money to repair and it made no sense to purchase a building of this historical importance only to watch it deteriorate as we are seeing with the Dutton House. Epsilon has the resouces and determination to maintain this building. We do not. Moreover, at the time that Epsilon was buying the parcel the Town had no interest in the land (except a small strip behind the fire station that the bank would not sell to us) because the Town, like everyone else (including the bank's attorneys, apparently) believed the parcel was not buildable. Jerry, I think you, like many others, believe that this recall is about North Road. It clearly is not since I voted against the project yet I am being recalled as well and I did EVERYTHING I could to oppose this project. Roland said it himself in an article in the Lowell Sun the other day. This is about getting rid of Paul Cohen. Roland is using North Road as a pretext for the recall since he thinks a new Board will fire Paul. If you can attend, I will welcome it.
Jerry Loew May 18, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Hello Jon: I am still trying to understand. Eliopoulis is in negotations to buy this land, Paul and the Selectman know it (yes?). And you think is is unbuildable? You are telling me you were tricked? And you all know Eliopoulis well. Besides if the town bought it back to both preserve and use a small piece for the fire station couldn't the town bring it to town meeting to rescind that part of the preservation act for the sake of the fire station? Its the town that made the preservation act in the first place upon selling the land correct? I don't think people in the town would begrudge this strategy. Lastly, I have not seen it answered satisfactorily whether Eliopoulis was a sitting selctman or not at the time and if he recommended against the town buying the land which would be a clear conflict of interest. (I think this last one is on of the reasons why many people would like an investigation). Thank You, Jerry
Jon Kurland May 19, 2011 at 08:27 AM
Jerry _ It is too bad that that you did not make it to the Brickhouse last night since I could have answered all of your questions. I had avery good discussion with Jim Molinari and John Tubirdy. I was not on the Board of Selectmen when this transaction took place so I was not "tricked" because it was not on my radar at the time. Yhis was a private sale from a bank to a private business. Everyone, including the bank's attorneys and appraisers thought that the PR would preclude construction. Even if we thought the land was buildable we had no intention of buying the Emerson House since it was in a state of disrepair as I stated above in a prior comment. Moreover at that time we were scrambling to addreess the most serious financial crisis in town since our budget had just been cut midway through the fiscal year by the Governor. The State Ethics Commission reviewed Phil's conduct in this transaction and found that his conductr met their high standards. The letter from the State Ethics Commission is on the Town website. Finally, the recall is NOT about North Road. It is about a personal vendetta that RVL has against Paul Cohen. If it were truly about North Road neither Pat nor I would be involved with the recall since I voted against thew project and Pat didn't vote at all since she wasn't on the Board. Since you chose not to meet with me and since North Road is a red herring in this recall, I see no point in further discussing North Road.
John Doe December 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Jon, I've never seen a lawyer with such a horrible understanding of the law. In fact, your understanding of the law is so flawed, that I have to wonder if its a lack of understanding or a purposeful misrepresentation.

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