(Editor’s Note: The Wilmington Planning Board will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Auditorium at the request of Bettering LLC for a reasonable accommodation to modify the approved site plan for a detox facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue. WCTV will be covering the meeting. A copy of the plan is available with the town’s Planning & Conservation Department and may be viewed in their office at Town Hall from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.)
As of my writing this letter we are some 50 hours from the Planning Board hearing on the 362 Middlesex Ave project. I hope that every voter in town is able to attend if not watch on WCTV if they decide to broadcast it. Why is this meeting so important for you to watch? Because some day, you may decide to put an addition on to your home, install a pool, redesign your driveway or any other action that would require you to appear in front of the Planning Board, Building Inspector or Zoning Board of Appeals. During your hearing you will be expected to follow all of the inhabitant bylaws while going through the motions of obtaining your permit/s.
Over the past couple weeks residents have questioned the favoritism seemingly on display with regards to town halls relationship with this developer. Some good questions have been brought up: Who paid for the barriers at the Whitfield? Did the town pay for the install of the blinking light at the Whitfield? When every other commercial property in town has parking requirements, how was the registry property permitted with such few spaces? Why is the town not charging for parking? To further this I want to ask you, what do you think will happen once the sewer is brought down to that area? By the way, sewer that will be run for the benefit of two developers paid for by your and my tax dollars through a grant being pushed through the state.
Now my forte’ is not really to attack scenarios that may have a respectable answer, however I’ll say I don’t carry much hope. I certainly don’t believe anyone in the town hall has read “The Art of the Deal” as was proven with the failed negotiations for Ristucia as well as the farm. So I will stick with legal issues.
I wanted to address something that was brought to the public recently on social media regarding threats that may or may not have been made about lawsuits on public officials. I would hope that board members would take heed. On March 12th 1977 Wilmington Town Meeting voted to accept Article 10, which reads:
To see if the town will vote to accept 100I Of Ch. 41 of the General Laws which provides that the town shall indemnify and save harmless municipal officers elected or appointed from personal financial loss and expense including reasonable legal fees and costs, if any in an amount not to exceed one million dollars, arising out of any claim, demand, suit or judgment by reason of any act or omission including a violation of the civil rights of any person under any federal law, if the official at the time of such act or omission was acting within the scope of his official duties or employment or do anything in relation thereto.
In 1978 this law was repealed and rolled into the current indemnification statue M.G.L. Ch 258 Sec 13 which reads:
Any city or town which accepted section one hundred I of chapter forty-one on or before July twentieth, nineteen hundred and seventy-eight, and any other city which accepts this section according to its charter, and any town which accepts this section in the manner hereinafter provided in this section shall indemnify and save harmless municipal officers, elected or appointed from personal financial loss and expense including reasonable legal fees and costs, if any, in an amount not to exceed one million dollars, arising out of any claim, demand, suit or judgment by reason of any act or omission, except an intentional violation of civil rights of any person, if the official at the time of such act or omission was acting within the scope of his official duties or employment.
I say with a wink and a nod that I would hope that our volunteer board members were advised that they would not incur liability if they make a good faith judgment in favor of the citizens and not this developer’s.
In the end, the writing is on the walls with this one. It most likely will be allowed to move forward and Wilmington will be nationally known for the reasons I pointed out in my last letter. I only hope that once this injustice is over we the people will have some folks on the board/s that we can call courageous for upholding their oaths to uphold the bylaws that the majority of us are expected to live by. This also lays the future groundwork for those that can read between the lines how they will be able to move their projects forward regardless of what the written law states.
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