Special town meeting for “Two Brooks Preserve”
PLYMPTON – On Monday, Aug. 6, Plympton Selectmen met at Town House and executed a lengthy agenda. The town clerk updated the board on ongoing projects and appointments, several appointments were made to the fire department, the board interviewed two candidates for Zoning Enforcement Officer and hired one, set up a gift fund for the Atwood property– now known as, “Two Brooks Preserve,”– and a Special Town Meeting to address the preserve was finalized after the meeting.
Town Clerk Update
Tara Shaw, the town clerk, updated the board on several ongoing projects. First, she updated the board on General Code, the company that is codifying the Plympton bylaws. They are checking for everything from spelling errors to conflicts with Massachusetts law. All deadlines are being met.
She also noted that five bylaws changed at the annual town meeting were submitted to the Attorney General’s office in the proper time frame, and that the deadline for the Attorney General’s office to get back to Plympton with approvals that the bylaws don’t conflict with Massachusetts law (or seeking further information from the town) is Sept. 3.
Adjustments to 2018 appointments to boards and committees were made on the recommendation of Shaw. The board had voted on all 48 appointments at once at a previous meeting, but according to Shaw, not everyone accepted their appointments, or their appointment terms.
Notably, Bob Karling did not accept his appointment as the Zoning Enforcement Officer and Fence Viewer, and Carol Quindley did not accept her appointment to the Historic District Commission.
Harry Weikel, originally an alternate to the Zoning Board of Appeals, only accepted full membership to that board with the term coinciding with that of his alternate term date, ending June 30, 2019.
Several Committees were dissolved, including the Fire Executive Oversight Committee, the Fire Technical Committee, the Memorial Day Committee, the DOR Advisory Board and the Plympton Housing Production Committee.
Wendy Jones was appointed Assistant Assessor.
Shaw is also looking for an intern or a volunteer to help maintain the town’s website.
“You’ve planted a seed, let’s see if it grows,” said Selectmen Chairman John Traynor, who supported the idea.
Selectmen interviewed Jack O’Leary, of Plympton, and Allan Fraser, of Franklin, for the position of Zoning Enforcement Officer. The current ZEO, Tom Millias, is the building inspector and is acting on an interim basis.
O’Leary said that he sought the position, “Mainly because I’ve been involved in this in my day job and volunteering in the town for a while.”
But, O’Leary has a full-time job as an engineer, and the board, especially Traynor was concerned about the time commitment needed for the position.
Allan Fraser, of Franklin, was ultimately unanimously hired by the board.
Fraser, who says he has, “a tremendous amount of experience,” citing jobs as building inspector in Newton and councilor in Lowell as examples, has never lived in a community he has worked in, he says.
Selectman Russo stated that he wanted a balance in zoning enforcement.
Fraser said that he preferred the term “administration” to “enforcement,” and that he believed that the key to effective zoning regulation is education. He mentioned using technology for that education and to remind residents and businesses of their obligations under the zoning laws.
Fire Department new hires
The Plympton Fire Department family showed up to the meeting to celebrate the appointment of five new members to the force. All members of the PFD, including the new members, have successfully passed CORI and SORI checks, something that had not been done under the tenure of Fire Chief Warren Borsari, leading to the separation of several employees from the force.
Nathan Currier, Edward Coughlin, Carl Johnson, Richard Cosato and Jennifer Fulton were all appointed. Although only two were present, a sizable crowd of firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and their family members and friends joined the meeting for a brief photo.
The board seems to take particular delight in the “reinvigorated” fire department, under the leadership of Captains Cheryl Davis and John Sjostedt and Fire Consultant Lance Benjamino, Chief of the Middleboro Fire Department.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy announced that 17 applicants have applied to date for the position of permanent fire chief, noting that the town is still early in the hiring process.
“Two Brooks Preserve”
The Atwood property, on Prospect Road, now known as the “Two Brooks Preserve,” is rapidly in the process of being purchased by the town. The land, which was held in Chapter 61A, was changing from agricultural use to another use when it was put on the market, and the town exercised its right of first refusal to purchase the property.
The sellers wish to move the sale along, and the board acquiesced to two conditions put on the sale, the first being 24-hours’ notice for access to the property, and the second being that the seller did not want to put a 30-day extension on the execution of the purchase and sales agreement.
Selectman Mark Russo explained that the board would like to set up both a “gift-fund” for the preserve, as well as issue bonds to fund the multisource funded project. The bonds will take some time to set up.
The fund was approved by the board, and Russo said that he hoped that individuals would give generously. Donations are tax-deductible and will be returned if voters do not approve the purchase at the fall STM. If enough money is raised through alternate means, he said, less Community Preservation money could be used for the project, or fewer lots may need to be sold to raise money for the purchase.
“We’re looking for people and hoping for people to be really generous,” he said, noting that donations for land last forever.
Regarding the tight timeline for the Two Brooks Preserve, Traynor said that there was, “a very tight schedule.” and Russo said that, “One wrong step and we could mess everything up. We don’t want any wrong steps.”
Special Town Meeting
Town officials announced Wednesday that a Special Town Meeting asking voters to approve the purchase of the Two Brooks Preserve will be held on Sept. 20. The time and place will be announced soon by the Selectmen’s office.
The Plympton Board of Selectmen will next meet Aug. 20 at 6 p.m.