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Van Liew Questions on Oak Hill Raise Stir

An e-mail exchange between Roland Van Liew and Phil Stanway has created a buzz on the In-Town Report over the past few days.

Tonight the Oak Hill Study Committee will meet at Town Hall to discuss a final report on recommendations for the Board of Selectmen on the parcel of land, but most of the talk on Oak Hill recently has been on a different subject.

Late last week, Roland Van Liew contacted Oak Hill Committee and Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship member Phil Stanway in regard to possible selective logging on the site.

Stanway referred Van Liew to Oak Hill Committee chair Susan Carter, with Van Liew responding again asking him specifically on the subject and also copying the exchange on the Better, Not Bigger website along with his views on the subject and allegations of impropriety.

“The proper protocol is to answer questions and respond to residents when they serve on a committee. If (Stanway) refuses to address the questions of any resident or any official in a personal message, then that resident has every right to go public,” said Van Liew in a statement to Chelmsford Patch. “What am I supposed to do, let him run me around in circles like they do with all the residents? This is the status quo in Chelmsford, we have officials that are arrogant and have a culture of self-entitlement.”

Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship spokeswoman Joanne Stanway responded in disbelief to Van Liew’s e-mail exchange.

“We’re not 100 percent certain what he’s talking about,” said Stanway. “He preferred to think Phil was avoiding these questions, but Phil didn’t understand what he was talking about because a.) he hasn’t ever and doesn’t have any intentions to talk with Selectmen about logging on Oak Hill and b.) he doesn’t have any authority to do so anyway.”

The exchange garnered over two dozen comments on the Chelmsford In-Town Report, where Board of Selectmen chairman Jon Kurland indicated Stanway observed the correct protocol in referring the matter to Carter, and challenged Van Liew to a lie detector test on the subject of logging.

In an interview with Patch, Kurland indicated that if logging were to have taken place, it would have likely occurred in 2009 following a need for new revenue following unexpected cuts in state aid.

“In my opinion, this is just another one of his baseless conspiracy theories,” said Kurland in a statement to Patch. “He finds a conspiracy around every turn, he doesn’t check his fact and he thinks nothing of attacking people who spend countless hours volunteering to make this town a better place.”

A vote on ownership of the property is likely heading for a Town Meeting vote this spring.

Iron Mike January 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Chelmsford's self-appointed town bully just can't help himself.
Tom Gilroy January 14, 2013 at 01:02 PM
The political season is here again and with it comes the obligatory real or manufactured controversy or in this case alleged "skulduggery".
Paul Haverty January 14, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I believe that Mr. Van Liew is seriously misguided regarding how the process works with volunteer committees if he believes that every member of every committee must respond to questions asked outside of a committee hearing. Irrespective of whether a committee member believes the question to have been asked in good faith (and I surmise that Mr. Stanway presumed that the question, the response to which was to be used as propoganda in Mr. Van Liew's recently announced candidacy for Board of Selectmen), it is certainly their prerogative to decline to answer questions outside of a public formum, or to refer such questions to the chair of their committee. This is especially true for citizen represenatives on committees, which is exacty what Mr. Stanway's position is on the Oak Hill Committee. Deferring questions to the chair of the committee is prudence, not arrogance, particularly when the question is a politcally loaded question asked by a declared candidate for the Board of Selectmen.
Benjamin Tracy January 14, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Mr. Sylvia - Can we please stop publicising everything RVL does? I honestly think he might go away if we stopped giving him attention. If and when he comes up with actual facts to back up anything he says, then and only then is he deserving of attention.
Muriel McGrann January 14, 2013 at 03:07 PM
In my opinion,Is it not wise to own land before you consider any options on it?Is it not proper to attend a meeting and voice questions of concern to the board and arrange for an issue to be placed on the adgenda as required by law now?Perhaps this is just another inventive" fishing" tale where the hook and bate went missing????
Stefani Bush January 14, 2013 at 03:10 PM
RVL starts at 30:25. Sue said discussion is not about Center Park....which has nothing to do with Oak Hill - 31 minutes in. She then let him continue to speak and asked him to keep comments pertinent to Oak Hill. Honestly, every discussion goes back to "Center Park" Sigh. She pointed out that ownership of "Center Park" was NOT under ownership of the town and Oak Hill was - so two different things. He then says one of the Selectmen tried to arrange a land swap to provide housing on or near the property - SIGH.....again....seriously???? They have made it clear that they don't want to develop the land. He then references ENGLAND.....for real????? And says that we don't value the opinion of those in England. UM....nope, I don't - it's a different country with different laws and rules. THOUGH...yes, I do value Phil's opinion..... He made it sound like he was shut down from the second he started speaking....he was not. He spoke for 12 minutes - and was interrupted only a few times - and then allowed to finish his statement even when he was interrupted. He presented a document that she suggested that it would be appropriate for the Selectmen as they are the decision makers.
Stefani Bush January 14, 2013 at 03:10 PM
He spoke for 12 minutes....that is VERY different from his assertion. He said much and was not interrupted in the manner in which he described. It is also noted that the question of it being conservation restriction for a period of time or 'forever' can be argued both ways - We did not acquire this land from taxpayer money - we acquired the land from failure of a land owner to pay taxes. The consideration should be given BEFORE we place that into conservation 'forever' - that, 50 or so years down the road - we have no idea what the needs of our town will be and whether or not there is a better use for that land at that time. A perfect example of this is the fact that we could not have anticipated the needs of the town way back when we built the schools and how we've grown to need more space. Had we been able to anticipate those needs, we'd not have to build larger facilities or split things up. Same goes for the police station and the fire station (GASP...did I mention the fire station....) In the end, I NEVER heard him ask Sue Carter about Logging....period.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Hi Benjamin, Good question. I am here to report on the things all of you guys are talking about. Your thought actually entered my mind a few hours after it started, kind of a journalism version of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (if I report on this, would that significantly change it?), but it got too big to ignore. I actively want to avoid perceptions of bias or favoritism, so if there's anything I can do to avoid those issues that are within my ability, please let me know.
Jeff Apostolakes January 14, 2013 at 05:25 PM
"Good and Honest".........Question of the day..........Does that only apply to those currently in office or does that also apply to those seeking office?
Barbara Hart Ward January 14, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Barbara Ward RVL is not an expert on "proper protocol," individual members of town committees do not speak for the committees. Residents bring their questions and concerns to the public meetings of the committee where they are addressed by the full committee. No committee or committee member wants to be ambushed or committed to what is reported as having been said during an informal one on one conversation. There is precedent for this not having served this town well.
Benjamin Tracy January 14, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Andrew - I don't think you're biased, I just think at this point what RVL says is not news anymore.
xxxx January 15, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Land for sale abutting oak hill property 12 acres Interested parties Please get in touch
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Thanks Benjamin, I completely understand where you're coming from. Just to reiterate though, unless it's an ethical issue, my job is more about interpreting what I think all of you want to hear about, not what I think is important or not important. To be perfectly honest, if you could grab a whole bunch of your friends and say "we would like to hear about this particular thing" and then read that thing once I get it up online, that would make my life a whole bunch easier! Sure, I might not report what you want to hear, but I would report on it in a heartbeat as long as I could. Heck, in the end that basic principle goes for any media outlet of any size in any medium anywhere.
Jean Whiting January 23, 2013 at 05:26 PM
I appreciate your publishing maps pertaining to stories. As to RVL, --oh, never mind. Literally.
Zach February 06, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Why does he chose to pick to spend his free time looking at every little thing the town does "wrong". It appears that he wants to always get involed with somthing. That puts a negative light on him.
Paul February 06, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Maybe... because he cares?
Paul February 06, 2013 at 04:11 AM
Ignorance is bliss Ben.
Phil stanway February 06, 2013 at 09:23 AM
The whole Oak hill story on logging was made up by RVL. No selectman, no logging company, no back room deal. Its time the selectman candidate was honest and removed the "Better not Bigger" story from the web. Its simple "PROVE IT OR REMOVE It".

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