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Selectmen Unsure If They Can Act Against Billerica 40B

Selectman Pat Wotjas
Selectman Pat Wotjas

Part One of a transcript from the Jan. 6, 2014 Board of Selectmen meeting. For the full meeting, go here

7:00 - 7:07 p.m.

Trish Dzuris provided an update on Winterfest, which will take place this year from January 31 to Feb. 2, and Evelyn Thoren provided an update on the Arts & Technology Education Fund, and Selectman Pat Wotjas gave an update on town committee vacancies.

7:07 -  7:21 p.m.

 Bill Griffin provided an update on Aspen Apartments, a 40B project in Billerica just over the Chelmsford line that was recently approved by that town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Griffin said that the plans were approved by the board in approximately 20 minutes and ignored requests from the Town of Chelmsford to review the plan prior to making a decision.

He elaborated concerns on how the project might impact Chelmsford in matters such as flooding.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has not yet finalized wording on their decision, although Griffin said that now since the public hearing process is closed, the only way to approach the issue is through the appeals process.

Board of Selectmen chairman Matt Hanson said that it was unfortunate that the plans were not provided ahead of time, but he was not sure if they the Town of Billerica was required to provide plans, despite the fact that Chelmsford abuts the property along State and Bishop Streets.

Town Manager Paul Cohen said that one of the reasons why additional insight into the flooding wasn’t taken was because two reviews had already been made and the Billerica ZBA didn’t need another, although Griffin said that those reviews had been done several years ago and the project had been in flux since then.

Selectman George Dixon asked about the distance of the buildings from the Chelmsford border, with Griffin saying they are now 147 feet away, but on the highest point of the property, adding that more work was done after the Billerica Conservation Commission reviewed an earlier plan.

Cohen said that the plans to the property were available to the public, although Griffin said that the project’s plans were only partially given to several Chelmsford residents who asked for them.

Hanson said at this point that the best route is to ask Town Counsel what the best route would be to pursue this option, with Selectman Jim Lane asking Cohen if town employees could look at the plans regarding drainage issues onto Chelmsford streets.

Lane continued regarding a concession by Billerica regarding emergency access to State Street.

It was also added that the Zoning Board of Appeals actually waived their review of drainage after their belief that the Billerica Conservation Commission’s review was adequate.

The matter was tentatively continued to Jan. 27

7:21 – 7:24 p.m.

The board approved a one day beer and wine license for the Harrington School Parent Teachers Organization, provided by Harrington’s Liquors, at the Chelmsford Community Center on Jan. 24

There was also a one day beer and wine license request for the Chelmsford Center for the Arts on Jan. 26 for Chelmsford Telemedia volunteer appreciation day.  That was also unanimously approved.

7:24 – 7:30 p.m.

The board was ahead of schedule regarding the status of an all alcohol package store license for Sam’s Liquors, so the board went to Cohen for preliminary warrant articles to be discussed at Spring Town Meeting.

Cohen said that there are two placeholder warrant articles from the Chelmsford Sewer Fairness Alliance in case, and that a warrant article from Nashoba Tech asking for funds for a new roof may be coming.

He elaborated further on other articles, with some articles currently in flux, noting that the board could hold a Special Town Meeting on the same night of the meeting if an article was not quite ready by the deadline for the warrant but would be ready prior to Town Meeting night.

Cohen also noted that there are two warrant articles for the Grinder Pump issue. 

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