PLYMPTON– Selectmen met in Plympton on Monday, July 25, and discussed a variety of topics, including a report from Finance Committee Chairman Susan Ossoff on the proposed sale of land to the Town of Kingston for the purpose of a police station, a post card created by the Community Preservation Committee before Town Meeting discouraging residents from voting to put a question on a future ballot to eliminate the CPC and whether it broke the law, and the fact that the town cannot find proper records documenting an earth removal operation by Jeff Randall, of Ring Road, and what to do about it.
SLRSD special legislation
According to Susan Ossoff, of the FinCom, the Silver Lake Regional School District pulled a fast one on Plympton and Halifax.
Officials from the Town of Kingston have wanted for some time to place a police station on a parcel of land owned by the Silver Lake District. During last town meeting season, all three towns composing the SLRSD were going to vote on whether to sell a parcel of land to Kingston. Articles were on the warrants in all three towns.
At the last minute, possibly sensing a lack of support, says Ossoff, Plympton (and Halifax) were asked to pass over the article, with the explanation from the SLRSD’s attorney that although the district can purchase land independently, it cannot sell it. Plympton and Halifax passed over the warrant articles.
Kingston did not, and narrowly voted against their own project.
Representative Tom Calter (D– Kingston) was asked to craft special legislation to allow the district to sell the property. Ossoff says this could have gone one of two ways, the first allowing a unilateral sale on the part of the district, and the second requiring the component towns to weigh-in on the matter.
For reasons unclear at this time, Calter chose the unilateral sale of the land.
“My problem with this is lack of process,” said Ossoff. “It’s a jointly held asset.”
The FinCom will write a letter expressing their displeasure. Halifax officials are expressing their displeasure as well.
Can CPC post card
be paid for by
Can you use public funds in support of educating the public to promote a warrant article at town meeting? Yes, says CPC Chairman Mark Russo– although there is a cutoff. What about in a general or town election? No is the clear answer, he says.
But when a post card was mailed out by the CPC to ask residents not to vote at town meeting to put a question on a general election ballot to eliminate the CPC (and promote what the CPC does for the town), well, things become murkier.
“This is my fault,” said Russo. “I’m very sorry this even has come before the board…[w]e did do our due diligence.”
The CPC may have crossed a line when they mailed out an educational post card shortly before Town Meeting promoting the CPC. At the time, there was a citizen’s petition on the town meeting warrant that asked residents if they would vote to eliminate the CPC on a future general election ballot.
Four different state agencies could not determine if this was appropriate or not, including the Department of Revenue and the State Ethics Commission.
For the future, Town Counsel will be consulted for an opinion since there is no clear line in the sand at this time, even though the situation is not unique.
The town cannot find appropriate records for the earth removal operations for Jeff Randall, of Ring Road, and they’re placing the burden on him to find them. They are also pressuring him to continue to “separate” his composting operations from his earth removal operation.
Randall isn’t taking this lying down, though. In polite terms, he stated that the town’s lack of record keeping should not be his problem.
“What you guys do is on you,” he said. “That’s not on me.”
He agreed to look into the matter, in a cooperative manner, though.
The board wants to know when he will finish excavating the earth, which he says he cannot estimate due to fluctuating market costs. He is in the process of building two bogs, but says they will not be operational until he knows he can sell the cranberries he produces.
“This never came up until I proposed a medical marijuana facility [on my farm],” Randall mentioned wryly.
No one present responded to the comment.