According to Selectperson Christine Joy, the Tuscher family home and land on Montello Street in Carver may be saved from eminent domain by that town.
Reporting Monday night on the Carver Redevelopment Committee, Joy told her board that there were many people at the Carver meeting demonstrating in support of Tuscher family, and that was the only issue that was discussed. “We did not even get into Montello Street,” Joy said. Montello Street crosses through both Plympton and Carver and will likely be redesigned to accommodate the new project.
She said she believes that the result of the meeting is that the Tuscher home has been taken off the list of those being taken by eminent domain; that the plan has been modified so that only a small portion of Tuscher property will be needed, “only a foot or so,” she said.
Selectman John Traynor asked if the Tuscher home was the only one the redevelopment LLC was taking. “No,” Joy answered. “They were going to take several.” The Tuscher property was the only party where the owners did not want to sell. The redevelopment company has sales agreements with the other parties, Joy said. The developer was present at the Carver meeting and said they didn’t want to take anyone’s property who wanted to stay there, so he supported taking them off the eminent domain list.
Town Counsel services are provided by the law firm of Koppelman and Paige and their contract is due to be renewed. Plympton put out a request for proposals for Town Counsel and the only firm responding was Koppelman and Paige, proposing an annual retainer of $36,000, which would include only routine counsel services, but not adversarial matters, litigation, or major real estate development.
Selectmen Chairman Colleen Thompson reported the town paid $55,850 last year without being under retainer, most of which was litigation and major real estate projects, none of which would be covered under the retainer option.
Traynor offered that once several matters are concluded, Plympton should see their legal bills reduced considerably, and should something unexpected occur, it likely wouldn’t be covered under the retainer proposal anyway.
The board agreed to wait a few days to get more information and have legal fees broken down before calling the matter to a vote.
Regionalization of services
Selectperson Joy drafted a letter to surrounding communities regarding the regionalization of some services that might be shared, such as town accountant, fire services, ambulance services, senior services, and animal control.
Thompson said that a family member works in central Massachusetts with the highway department and they bundle their projects with surrounding towns wherever possible, citing lane striping as an example. When the towns contract for lane striping, they all do it on the same day, with the same provider so that there is only one setup cost and the provider starts at one town and continues through several towns to get the job done efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. Adding to the list of possibilities, selectmen suggested adding other collective purchasing of supplies.
Open Meeting Law
Traynor, Thompson, and Joy each have a different take on just what the intent of the Open Meeting Law is. In a lively discussion of the “Parking Lot” area of the Selectmen’s Meeting Agenda, Traynor said that he wanted some items in the “Parking Lot,” meaning they are items which might be discussed, taken off that list. He reasoned that if something is on the agenda, a person reading the agenda should have a reasonable expectation that the topic will be discussed, if only as a brief update. Some items in the “Parking Lot” will likely not be discussed for months, such as the spring accountant’s report.
Thompson said that her sense of the Open Meeting Law was to make it more difficult to bring something up at a meeting that hadn’t been prepared. If something isn’t on the agenda, it shouldn’t be discussed.
Traynor continued that he thinks the Open Meeting Law should make meetings more transparent, furthering that sometimes he doesn’t know he wants to talk about something until that night. Joy said that in that case, the topic would be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, giving interested parties an opportunity to speak to the issue.
Joy also said that when selectmen had an area at the beginning of the meeting for “any other items,” they were warned that they could be found in violation of the open meeting law as this did not give notice of the discussion to the public.
“I would put everything out there,” Traynor said, “I think that the more we put out there and the more people see how we come to the decisions we make, they will better understand the process rather than just seeing the end result.” He also said that he would put much of what is now heard in executive session into public meeting; not pending litigation, wage negotiation, personnel issues, but other items which fall into the category of ‘might result in litigation.’
Thompson said that her inclination was to take the “Parking Lot” off the agenda. If we want to meld it with the tasks list, that’s fine. “I definitely do not want to add it to the agend I think it has the potential of making meetings too cluttered, too long.”
Joy said the Parking Lot is a neat way to keep track of things. “It’s a working document,” she said. But if there are things we want to talk about, let’s just put them on the agenda.
Bylaw Review committee
Nine people have come forward to serve on the by-law review committee, and the board agreed that a nine person board could be awkward, and perhaps splitting into three groups of three, each group taking on a separate area of the by-laws to review. Selectmen were pleased with the response and look forward to getting the group, which is an advisory committee, started after the first of the year.Town Owned Land Sales
Robert Jacobsen came to a “Meet with a Selectman” Tuesday night session asking John Traynor about a strip of town-owned land which runs between Main Street and Parsonage Road. He is interested in acquiring it.
Thompson said, “We’ve talked to them at least twice,” and it isn’t as simple as cutting off a strip of land; it needs to be surveyed. Who’s going to pay for the survey? Not the town. And even if it were surveyed and paid for by Jacobsen, there is no guarantee that he would get it at auction.
Traynor said he had spoken with Town Treasurer/Collector Colleen Morin regarding town-owned land parcels, and Morin told him it will take six months to do the work to bring them to auction status.
Joy said she got an opinion from counsel regarding town-owned land. “It really spells out what we need to do,” she said. Joy said she didn’t think the town gave Mrs. Morin the status to sell town-owned property; she completes the process needed and selectmen are the ones to actually sell the property.
In other business:
• Selectmen accepted the resignation of Deborah Anderson from the Community Preservation Committee as one of the selectmen’s representatives to that committee in order to create a vacancy which former Planning Board member Irving Butler could fill. Anderson, who is a member of the Planning Board, could then be appointed by that board to act as its representative and continue on the CPC.
• Selectmen turned down the gift of a ¾ acre parcel of land on Churchill Road because the town would have no known use for it at this time.
• Selectmen will investigate the writing of a by-law that will allow the replacement of an elected official who for whatever reason cannot or will not attend meetings, rendering the board ineffective.
• Selectmen will next meet Monday, December 5 at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.