WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple reached out to Town Manager Jeff Hull on Friday, asking for his reaction to the news that the Wilmington Fourth of July Committee’s special permit request to hold a carnival in the Fourth of July Building’s parking lot during this summer’s Fun on the Fourth festivities was denied by the Wilmington Board of Appeals on Wednesday night.
Hull also provided answers to a few questions that Apple readers have been asking about.
Do you care to offer any reaction to Wednesday night’s Board of Appeals vote?
Hull: “It is my sincere hope that the July Fourth Committee will continue their efforts to host a July 4th event with activities and attractions for all ages. There is no question that the loss of the carnival poses challenges for the Committee both financial and programmatic. The carnival attracted many families with children of varying ages. While they enjoyed the rides these families would make food purchases from many of the Wilmington non-profit organizations who participate in the event not only to raise money but also to make themselves known in the community. More importantly this ‘draw’ combined with the music and activities helped to create the festive environment that has made Wilmington’s ‘Fun on the Fourth’ such a standout event. In many respects the carnival has been to the celebration what anchor stores have been to the malls.”
Does the Fourth of July Committee have any recourse to appeal the Board of Appeals decision to some other body? Could the Committee bring another request forward to the Board of Appeals and then Mr. Loud go in front of the Selectmen for a waiver, as Mr. Veerman did?
Hull: “Regarding the appeal opportunity, any party whose application for a special permit is denied has up to 20 days from the date the decision is filed with the Town Clerk to appeal the decision of the Appeals Board to Land Court or Superior Court.
A new application for a special permit to locate the carnival at the former Swain School property could not be filed within 2 years from the date of the decision unless there are substantive differences in the new application from the application that was just denied. In other words, the July Fourth Committee could not simply file another application seeking to make the same request for a special permit at that location.”
Why aren’t there alternate members on the Board of Appeals? Do you think it would be a good idea to add some? (An alternate member, for example, could step in when a board member is forced to recuse himself or herself due to a conflict of interest.)
Hull: “Associate members to the Board of Appeals were eliminated when the membership on the Board of Appeals was increased from 3 to 5 based upon adoption of article 18 at the May 3, 2008 annual town meeting. The fact that associate members were specifically eliminated from the Zoning By-law based upon the annual town meeting vote leads me to believe there may have been some disadvantage to associate members. I do not recall the reason(s) for eliminating associate members on the Board of Appeals. Without having had an opportunity to look into the pros and cons of associate members I have not formed an opinion as to whether on balance it would be an improvement over the current arrangement to add associate members. It is important that any change be based upon looking more comprehensively at the implications of such a change and not focusing solely on this most recent decision of the Board of Appeals.”
The question everyone is now asking — Will there still be fireworks at the Town Common even without a carnival?
Hull: “It is my understanding that the July Fourth Committee will be meeting soon to determine how they plan to go forward. Once they have announced how they plan to proceed the picture for a July 4th celebration will become clearer. While I cannot speak for the members of the Board of Selectmen I believe that that they have a clear track record over many years of supporting the July Fourth Committee and have a strong desire to preserve the tradition of a safe family oriented ‘Fun on the Fourth.’ The Town stands ready to assist the Committee to the greatest extent possible with whatever plans they put forward for an event.
Wilmington’s community spirit is legendary. There clearly is a will to continue the event and I believe we will find a way. While I cannot make any guarantees my sense is that there will be a July 4th celebration in Wilmington in 2016 including fireworks.”
Wilmington Apple would like to thank Town Manager Hull for taking the time to respond to these questions!
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