CLOSING ARGUMENT: Selectman Candidate Jonathan Eaton Asks For Your Vote

Dear Residents of Wilmington:

I do not want more condominiums or apartment buildings in Wilmington.  Voting to eliminate multi-family units will create more apartment buildings through 40B developments.  It will exacerbate the very issue that it seeks to eliminate.

Eliminating multi-family units would by all practical measures eliminate any chance that the town would be able to increase its affordable housing inventory to 10% by 2020.  Eliminating multi-family units sends the message that we are not serious about affordable or senior housing in Wilmington.  Eliminating multi-family units rolls out the red carpet for 40B developments filled with multi-family units – the very type of development that this proposed change to the bylaws seeks to prevent.  40B developments do not have to abide by local zoning ordinances, meaning they can build whatever they want, wherever they want to.

Again, I do not want more condominiums or apartment buildings.  I would rather affordable, senior housing in the form of townhouses next to St. Dorothy’s that meet our local zoning ordinances, instead of welcoming 40B developments.  People were upset at the possibility of a gas station behind Mr. Ticket.  Imagine the reaction if a 40B development were built there.  People already are starting to feel like Wilmington is losing its suburban feel, like we are becoming more and more like a city.  Textron has between 50 and 60 employees left on their campus.  Imagine what a big national developer like an Avalon could do to that property if it is made available for sale.

That scale of development would worsen our traffic issues, and put additional strain on our town departments, especially our DPW, police, fire, and schools.  We need to be smart in how we facilitate affordable and senior housing.  Eliminating multi-family units would be self-defeating, and would result in more congestion and higher taxes.

I want the town to acquire Sciarappa Farm.  Eminent domain, at this point, is not the way to do it, in part because it is the most expensive way to acquire property.

Case law is very favorable to landowners in valuing land in eminent domain cases.  The current article to rezone Sciarappa Farm tries to rezone that land from R60, at one extreme of our zoning structure, to Neighborhood Mixed Use, at the other extreme.  If that article were to fail at town meeting, which I hope that it does, the landowners in an eminent domain action would be still able to argue that the fair market value for the land should be more than the value at R60, and a court can consider the potential increase in value if there is a reasonable prospect of rezoning to R20 or R10.  In short, the town could be responsible for paying more for Sciarappa Farm than it is currently worth.

Further, I do not believe that it is the proper role of the government to be pursuing eminent domain unless it is a last resort.  The best course of action to protect our tax dollars, if we are to acquire Sciarappa Farm, is to vote against the rezoning of that land, and then focus our efforts in negotiating a purchase directly.  If that fails, nothing stops the town from pursuing eminent domain at any point in the future, as a last resort.

During our discussions on the Finance Committee, we were unanimous in our support for acquiring Sciarappa Farm, but (1) not through eminent domain at this point, and (2) without a price that has been determined through the diligence of real estate professionals.  As such, the Finance Committee unanimously recommended disapproval of acquiring the property through eminent domain.

I am running for Selectman because I believe that my experiences serving our community would make me an asset to the board.  I am a past president of the Wilmington Rotary Club, and I served on the library’s most recent Strategic Planning Committee.  I have been a member of the Finance Committee since 2012, and as such, I have had the opportunity to meet with the Town Manager and all of the department heads during the past six budget seasons to review and make recommendations on the proposed budget.  I have and will continue to work to increase the efficiency of your town government, and to provide residents with the tools to enable them to play a more active role in shaping our community through the formation of an economic development committee.

I have run a positive campaign, because I do not believe that personal attacks are conducive to productive decision-making.  I am not running because of how great Wilmington once was, but because I know how great Wilmington still is.  We need thoughtful, deliberative, and measured leadership.  I would appreciate your vote this Saturday, April 28.  Polls are open from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.

Jonathan Eaton

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