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Pine Lake Condominiums - Ashland, MA

Planning Board's Fails

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An Opinion
 
The Planning Board's Failure
Three Strikes And They're Out!
 
 
Ashland, Massachusetts
Planning Board Meeting - April 14, 2005
46 West Union Street Project
Treatment of Abutters.
 
 
At the above mentioned meeting, two, adult, taxpaying, Ashland women, both of whom worked with the Town on signage, were neither abusive, nor antagonistic.  They did no name-calling.   Their questions and concerns were sincere and well-meaning.  However, they were treated by Board Members as if we were obstructionists regarding the Project.  Their comments were dispatched with impatience, disdain, avoidance, and even disregard of their rights by law.
 
Their expertise at the meeting was as ABUTTERS; like a jury, were there not argue the theory of law, but judge its application. 
 
Neither had building knowledge, nor full awareness of town laws on zoning, land etc.  Neither had planning board experience, nor were they privy to the background on their own condominiums’ restrictive covenant for the land involved, which is poorly defined and ambiguous.  Further, they were not aware of the “sidebar” discussions which the Board may have had with others.
 
What they really wanted and expected (and any citizen deserves) from the Town’s Planning Board on April 14th, were clear explanations, civilly presented, of our rights, the laws, and the builder’s rights.  In short, they wanted their views heard, and registered, plus their concerns to be respected.  This did not happen.
 
For example: The women requested to viewi a drawing of the rear elevation of the building -- this side that will face the condos.  This was a valid and legitimate request.  But, a Board Member asked, “And, what would you do if you saw it?” 
 
Frankly, doesn’t matter. They had (and still have) a right to see the elevations without a challenge… and that right was denied!
 
They received similar responses from the Board regarding other concerns – for example, four stories at the back/land drop... the builder’s excuse for needing a third floor for elevator equipment, etc.
 
Further, the two women had even hand-delivered a letter a letter to the Board on April 8th, asking for a good discussion on the building’s impact on the “village” look that many residence desire for Ashland.  The Board never even mentioned the letter, nor initiated discussion. 
 
To the women, it appeared that matters were sewn-up before the meeting even started, and that they, as concerned citizens, had wasted their time and efforts.  
 
At the meeting's end, a Planning Board memeber asked of the women whether they would remain involved in Town matters.  Their answer was “NO” -- not with the level of support which they received on April 14.  Their decision should be  discouraging as well to other residents whom might want to get involved in Town affairs.
 
It’s the Planning Board’s job to help the citizens on matters of land / buildings / zoning.  The Planning Board failed... Stee-e-e-rike 1! ... And, if the abusive treatment, which the women received was in retaliation for the unfortunate behavior of one of Association’s representative, the Planning Board, failed triply, for that person's behavior did not represent these women... Stee-e-e rike Two! ... And still further... that person was at least impaired, as opposed to the sober, mean-spirited behavior of the Board.  Stee-e-e-rike Three...  You're Out! 
 
In all, the Board forgot that the women were its client, too.  And, that if the Board checks the tax records, it would understand that they...and other individuals living in the anonimity known as "condo owners"... are more lucrative taxpaying resources than an owner of a two-story building.

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