WILMINGTON, MA — Here are TEN additional things that happened at the 2017 Wilmington Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, April 29, 2017:
#1) Voters agreed (and it sounded unanimous) to name the Wilmington High School gymnasium the Lawrence H. Cushing, Sr. Gymnasium. His son, Jack Cushing, spoke in support of the article, recapping his father’s service to the town and its children. “He had the biggest W on his chest you’ve ever seen,” noted Cushing. The gymnasium in the old high school was named after Cushing, but the name did not transfer over when the new high school was built. School Committee Chair Steve Bjork added the Committee was, by no means, against the renaming. He clarified the Committee was just waiting for a process to be put in place to consider naming certain sections of the new school. [Article 44]
#2) Voters supported a number of zoning bylaw changes proposed by the Planning Board. The changes involved creating a new ‘Research and Development Use’ as a separate classification; clarifying the setback requirements for homes on corner lots; and updating certificate of occupancy conditions surrounding accessory apartments. [Article 45-48]
#3) Voters approved another temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments in town. The ban would be in effect through the end of June 30, 2018. There was little discussion on the article. Planning Board Chair Michael Sorrentino said the measure was a way for the town to keep up with the matter as it is fleshed out at the state level. [Article 49]
#4) Voters accepted Cheyenne Drive as a public way. Wilmington’s newest accepted street is located off of Concord Street and contains 31,082 square feet. [Article 50]
#5) In perhaps the closest vote of the day, Petitioner Mark Nelson was unsuccessful in getting the town’s Official Map declared “invalid.” Nelson noted the map, dated January 1, 1973, was missing lots of new streets. The motion failed despite several residents, including State Rep. Jim Miceli, speaking in favor it. Planning Board Chair Sorrentino explained the Planning Board’s opposition to the article, arguing that eliminating the official map would cause undue hardship to Wilmington property owners. The question of if/when the map would be updated was left unanswered. [Article 52]
#6) Voters agreed to rezone from Residential 10 and Residential 20 to just Residential 10 a parcel of land Rhodes Street. The rezoning brought the homeowner’s parcel in uniformity with the zoning of neighboring parcels. [Article 54]
#7) Voters agreed to rezone from Residential 10 to Neighborhood Business land at Glen Road and Main Street (Route 38), across from Silver Lake. The petitioner — local attorney Michael Newhouse who has practiced law in town since 1994 — plans to use the newly acquired land to build a law office towards the front along Main Street and a house for his family behind it. Newhouse noted the law office would be adjacent to a number of businesses, including a dentist’s office and across from nail salon and dog grooming shop. His newly constructed buildings will “fit the character of the neighborhood.” He pledged to maintain a monument to a Wilmington veteran that is on the property. When asked about any impact on traffic, Newhouse said he would go through the Planning Board’s site plan review process, but doesn’t expect any issues. “The trip generation is roughly what it would be for a family with a couple of children of driving age. There won’t be many people in and out all day long,” added Newhouse. [Article 55]
#8a) Voters agreed to rezone from General Industrial to Neighborhood Mixed Use land at the intersection of Butters Row and Main Street (Route 38). The petitioner — Michael Welch — intends on putting two multi-family housing buildings on the 4.25 acres of land. These garden-style condominiums would consist of a total of 49 2-bedroom units. The hope is to attract first-time buyers and empty-nesters looking to downsize. The project’s architect also designed the Rotary Estate Town Houses and the projects at 1 and 15 Church Street. The highlands area of the property will not be developed and, instead, the owner is willing to provide an easement to the town or state in case the Butters Row intersection or bridge ever needs widening or other improvements. [Article 56]
#8b) Something to keep an eye on… Selectman Mike McCoy supported the article, but was concerned about rumors of a much larger abutting property being sold and redeveloped. He noted Veritev, which owns 613 Main Street, is leaving town. McCoy asked Planning Director Valerie Gingrich if anyone has approached her about rezoning the abutting property, but McCoy was ruled out of order as the question wasn’t consider germane to the original property in question.
#9) Article 51 (to rezone 278 Lowell Street from General Business to Residential-20) was withdrawn prior to the meeting. It received disapproval from both the Finance Committee and Planning Board. Article 53 (to sell town-owned land at 16 St. Paul Street) was withdrawn weeks ago.
#10a) The meeting came to a standstill for five minutes after resident Kevin MacDonald was told to leave the auditorium and refused. Leading up to the ejection, MacDonald was called to order at least four times (“given four strikes”) by Town Moderator Rob Peterson for not following instructions. MacDonald refused to leave his seat when asked to do so by the police. Instead of having MacDonald forcibly removed, Peterson asked Police Chief Michael Begonis to sit next to MacDonald for the duration of the meeting. Peterson also noted that he would no longer recognize MacDonald if he attempted to speak. Shortly thereafter, MacDonald got back up to speak at a microphone and, at that point, was escorted out by police.
#10b) The meeting started approximately 20 minutes late waiting for a quorum of 150 people.
#10c) At the end of the meeting, Town Moderator Rob Peterson recognized longtime Finance Committee member Bob Palmer, who is departing the committee after not seeking reappointment. Palmer received a standing ovation.
(NOTE: The cover photo is from Wilmington Community Television.)
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