Oh, waiter, can we have our check, please? What -- no check? You mean, it's a free ride?
Well, it will be if some of our Town boards get their way at Town Meeting: a free ride to unprecedented, unchecked, consolidated power to allow new kinds of real estate development as they wield broad, undefined powers of discretion. And no one to whom to complain about it, because we voters will have given them these powers.
That's one of the most fundamental problems with the zoning -- and quasi-zoning -- bylaws that we're being asked to vote for at this Annual Town Meeting. If we pass them, there will be no checks, and no balances.
The existence of checks and balances is primary to the health of any democracy. The judicial legislative, and executive branches balance one another -- power is not concentrated in only one set of hands in our government. But an unhealthy concentration of power will be exactly what will happen if we pass Article 36 (Nonconforming Uses & Structures), Article 39 (Site Plan Review), and Article 43 (Wetlands Bylaw).
Articles 36 and 39 give the the Planning Board wide, undefined powers of discretion with equally undefined bounds. It will be even moreso for the Natural Resources Commission if we pass Article 43: they would take on the power of Town Meeting to change this bylaw at their whim without legislative input. This is something that no other bylaw permits. And they don't even need the super-majority of a 2/3rds vote to take on such super-powers! We need to vote NO on 36, 39 and 43.
These three Articles need to RESOUNDINGLY fail. Articles 36, 39, 43: A Heyday for Developers
articles aren't just friendly to continued development in Concord: they
encourage and facilitate it. While certain development can be good for
our community, these potential bylaw amendments allow growth that
is currently forbidden -- and they would do so at the unregulated indulgence of these
appointed, unelected boards... boards whose members have not been vetted through the public election process, and who are not accountable to an electorate like they are in most other towns. The
potential for conflicts of interest is apparent.
all together with the possibility of an additional sewage treatment
facility (Article 41), and we have a sure-fire recipe for difficult-to-control growth in both the residential and commercial arenas. (To see an excellent analysis of why Article 43 should be voted against, see this OpEd in the Concord Journal
how big do we think Concord should be, anyway? How many souls should it
house? How many businesses? And just who gets to decide this?
Is it the residents in the body of Town Meeting? We don't recall Town
Meeting deciding we wanted a lot more growth in Concord. So if not the residents,
then just who is driving the desire for all this further development, anyway?A Breath of Fresh Air: Article 38, the West Concord IPOD
The West Concord Interim Planning Overlay District (WC-IPOD) makes the
sensible step of asking Town Meeting to allow real, concrete planning
to take place in the open. It limits the type of development that can go on for a
short period of time to allow a masterplan for West Concord to be created. Articles 36, 39 and 43 would permit levels of development in West Concord that is not currently allowed. Doesn't it make more sense to first do some hands-on planning before we pass all kinds of zoning bylaw amendments that could develop West Concord in ways that would ruin its special character and functionality? Let's not put the cart (36, 39, 43) before the horse (38). (See a Concord Journal OpEd about why to vote for Article 38 here
.) Please vote for Article 38.
Information Please... Not!
It was nearly impossible to get information about the language of the motions for the above articles. It wasn't until our editor complained to the Town Moderator and he prodded the applicable departments to provide the information -- which they promised would be online by 4:30 PM this past Friday, which is just three days before the opening of Town Meeting. (Find these much asked-for motions here
How is this informing the public with adequate notice? The language of these Articles is about as dense as a brick, or moreso. Professional planners we've shown the Warrant Articles to had a hard enough time understanding them. What hope do the rest of us have with so little advance reading time? What kind of transparency is this?
Was keeping the public in the dark about the language of the motions intentional? Is it just a coincidence that this year some of the Selectmen didn't want to publish four articles in their entirety in the Warrant
, which would have been unprecedented? Or was this all just a result of everyone being too busy before Town Meeting to notice this lapse, which was quickly fixed once staff was reminded? Or does this show the ongoing disregard for openness and public information this current administration has repeatedly shown? We will leave the answer up to your judgment.