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Letter: Planning boards should represent the wishes of the voters

Published: 1/10/2020 5:17:42 PM

Letter to the editor:

Shouldn’t a town’s planning board represent the wishes of the voters that democratically elected them? In Rindge, this doesn’t seem to be the case. One might argue that builders are in charge of the board that is supposed to regulate them.

At the Rindge Planning Board’s public hearing on Jan. 7, 2020 it was interesting that our Planning Board director objected to two citizen petitions for the 2020 town warrant. At a June 11, 2013 Planning Board meeting, then chair Kirk Sternersen, stated he was aware of a strong faction within the town of Rindge who would like to see impact fee rescinded in its entirety. This came to fruition in 2017 when the impact fee was rescinded by ballot vote. In a short period of time, many have seen the error in the elimination of impact fees and now a group of concerned citizens has come forward with two citizen petition warrant articles. This group feels there is a “strong faction within the town to reinstate impact fees and a growth management ordinance.”

Our Master Plan is summarized to preserve small town rural character rather than uniformly spreading residential, commercial and industrial activity across the entire community. The town is served by private water and sewer. It’s imperative that we preserve water, wetlands, aquifers & watersheds. Our master plan should be our ultimate goal.

The two petition warrant articles are pro active. The vision for the Rindge Planning Board decisions should be aligned to support the Master Plan.

We are seeing a new mode of development in our town. Planned Unit Residential Development (PURDs) are an explosive method of building. The Navian proposal, on route 119 for a 66 unit PURD is an alarming use of a property which is one-third wetlands. Our PURD regulations are in direct town conflict with our town zoning. This has been expressed to the planning board by citizens, an outside lawyer and by a perceptive member of the planning board.

During a May 3, 2016 Planning Board meeting concerning the Roberts Landing project, the following statements were made by member Jason Paolino. He said, our zoning regulations and PURD Regulations are completely at odds with each other. He spoke in opposition to the process and to the PURD Regulations. He said the these PURD Regulations disgust him and the planning process is a charade.

For a Planning Board member to describe the “process is a charade” is a red flag. A neighboring town, Peterborough, is threatening to eliminate its Planning Board. Sounds like our region is finding the municipal growth process a charade!

At the Jan. 7 meeting the Rindge Planning Board ruled against the petition warrant articles as being incomplete. However, because these are citizen petitions they will appear on the 2020 town warrant. The petitioners are encouraging the voters to make the choice. A vote in the affirmative will send a message to the board. Perhaps then it will be incumbent upon the Planning Board to act. Be concerned about the direction our town is going. We must find a way to preserve both our rural nature and our town’s resources.

Our Planning Board must be held accountable for ignoring the town’s Master Plan.

Judy Unger-Clark



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