SELECTMEN NOTEBOOK: 5 Things That Happened At Last Week’s Selectmen’s Meeting

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple has previously reported on news from last week’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting, including the retirement announcement of Police Chief Michael Begonis; a license approval for the soon-to-be-opened Josie’s Bakery; possible fixes for the North Wilmington MBTA Commuter Rail station; and some insight into the ongoing Sciarappa Farm negotiations.

Below are FIVE more things that happened at the Wilmington Board of Selectmen’s Meeting on Monday, March 25, 2019:

#1) OPEN MEETING LAW CONCERNS: Town Manager Jeff Hull announced a change to the Selectmen’s meeting agendas. A new “Announcements” section has been added.

“For some time now, ‘New Business’ has been used for the purpose of announcements,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull. “‘New Business’ should really be intended for discussions about matters that could not be foreseen within the 48 hours leading up to the meeting, after the agenda was posted.”

“It’s my recommendation going forward that if members have issues on the agenda, that you either make me or the Chair aware of those items and they can be added on to the agenda,” continued Hull. “But matters that are substantive in nature that involve a discussion, and perhaps a vote, really should not be taken up under ‘New Business.’ The ‘Announcements’ portion would be used for providing general information (e.g., a meeting a board member attended, or an upcoming meeting, recognitions of particular individuals or groups, etc.).”

Selectman Mike McCoy pushed back.

“I disagree with what the Town Manager is saying. I believe as members of the Board of Selectmen, we represent our constituents…. I don’t think we’re doing anything that is incorrect [now]. I think we have an opportunity and right to discuss… matters,” said McCoy. “I don’t [want a process where I have] to talk to the Manager, and then the Manager talks to the Chair, and then the Chair decides if he wants to put it on the agenda, that’s what it really comes down to. It’s totally unfair to do that.”

McCoy didn’t want to “rubber stamp” this change and asked that the Selectmen discuss it and their next meeting when Selectman Eaton was present.

“We’re the Executive Board. If I have something to say, I want to say it. [And if I make a motion] and the board doesn’t go with it, that’s fine. I respect it. But I don’t want this to become a dictatorship,” added McCoy. 

“Having conversations about individuals without their prior knowledge is problematic, particularly when that matter has been known for some time now. That’s one example where if there’s going to be a discussion of an individual board member, or a topic that it’s going to involve substantive topic and the prospect of a vote, those should be items that are posted on the agenda, so the public – and perhaps the individuals involved – are forewarned and can attend if they so choose,” responded Hull.

McCoy then went on to discuss the Board of Appeals and conflict of interest filings and processes relative to 362 Middlesex Avenue. McCoy said that ZBA Chair Dan Veerman doesn’t have any conflict of interest paperwork on file with the Town Clerk’s Office.

“Then so we should take this up under an agenda item to give him the opportunity to be here,” responded Selectmen Chair Kevin Caira.

“And this is EXACTLY why, in my estimation, this type of thing needs to be posted as an agenda item so if Mr. Veerman chooses to be here, and respond in the moment, he can do so,” added Town Manager Hull. “As it is right now, the prospect of innuendo and suggestion is out there and he has no opportunity to respond. Any member that serves on a volunteer board, or anyone for that matter, should have the opportunity to be present and respond if there’s questions raised about their integrity.”

McCoy responded but saying he wasn’t questioning Veerman’s integrity and that he was discussing the entire Board of Appeals, of which the Board of Selectmen is the appointing authority.

#2) KEY INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PIPELINE: Town Manager Jeff Hull provided a quick update to the Board on the Woburn Street/Lowell Street intersection project and the Route 38 (Burlington Ave. intersection to Woburn line). Hull, Planning Director Valerie Gingrich, and Town Engineer Paul Alunni attended a recent meeting at the Boston Area Planning Council to make the case for the town’s submitted infrastructure projects. Both projects are currently slated for 2024. The Route 38 project, however, could be moved up to 2022. The Route 38 project costs $12.5 million. The intersection project costs approximately $3.95 million. Both projects will be funded through a combination of state and federal funds.

#3A) TOWN MEETING REVIEW COMMITTEE: Per the recommendation of Town Moderator Robert Peterson Jr., Selectmen agreed to formally establish and make appointments to a Town Meeting Review Committee AFTER the May 5 Annual Town Meeting.  The Committee will explore ways to increase voter participation at Town Meeting and improve the Town Meeting experience, including possibly moving the date of Town Meeting to earlier in the Spring.

#3B) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: Selectmen agreed to hold off on announcing their appointments to the recently-formed Town Economic Development Committee due to the absence of Selectman Jonathan Eaton. Each Selectmen is expected to appoint three members to the committee at its next meeting on Monday, April 8.

#4a) MEMORIAL DAY PARADE: Selectmen unanimously approved the request of Veterans Services Director Lou Cimaglia to conduct a Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony on Monday, May 27.

#4b) ELECTION WORKERS: Selectmen unanimously approved the request of Town Clerk Christine Toumay-Conway to appoint more than 30 election workers for the 2019 Annual Town Election.

#5) LICENSE APPROVALS: Selectmen unanimously approved the request of a taxi cab license for Wilmington Taxi and a taxi cab operator’s license for Timothy Flynn. Selectmen also unanimously approved the request of Khalid Hazimeh, of Tony’s Ice Cream, to obtain a Hawk & Peddle license to sell ice cream in town, pending the necessary fingerprinting requirements.

Watch the meeting, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below:

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