Daily Buzz | Community Members Call For Leadership From Select Board
And Select Board hears arguments against housing development
Good Morning, Burlington!
Last night was a busy one at Select Board, as news channels sat in the gallery to capture statements from community members about the events at Marshall Simonds Middle School on June 2 following this article from the Globe yesterday. (You can access the Globe for free through our public library’s online offerings.)
Representatives from all across the community spoke to the Select Board, urging them to reinstate the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Subcommittee, which was disbanded after its initial one-year charge was complete. It was also requested that the Board add DEI as a standing agenda item (as it is on School Committee agendas) and that they provide active leadership for the School Committee as the community moves through the aftermath of this disruption.
Many Select Board Members spoke following the public participation period, including Mike Espejo, who says he directly reached out to the school community to offer support and to urge Dr. Conti and BPS administration to fill the position of DEI Director, a position which has existed for two years now and was only filled for half that time.
Chair Mike Runyan stated that the administration will take the matter seriously and promised they would continue discussions and have an update for the public by the end of the summer. The Board was allocated $20,000 by Town Meeting in May for DEI Training, and there is a strategic session this Wednesday to discuss the plan going forward.
Winn View Heights II Still Opposed by Neighbors and Local Boards
As expected, there was much discussion last night about the proposed Winn View Heights II development that would be accessed at 35 Mountain Road. Chairs of both the Planning Board and Conservation Commission spoke out against the project, with the Planning Board urging the Select Board not to provide a letter of support. The Conservation Commission, while refraining from telling the Select Board how to vote, did make some requests, such as an independent peer review of drainage, erosion control, and stormwater handling and involvement of the Conservation Commission in the permitting process, should the project go through.
This would be 24 units, all age-restricted, 6 income-restricted.
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) would be the sole authority for this project.
Statement from the proponent:
The grade would be 8%; Center St. is a 9.1% grade.
The ZBA has handled a much bigger project in the past and should be able to handle this one as well.
Some concerns from the town Boards:
Flooding and erosion caused by removal of trees (which take up hundreds of gallons of water and prevent flooding and erosion.
Steep grade with multiple switchbacks and a steep dropoff; concerns about safety of residents and visitors, as well as the ability for First Responders to access the area in an emergency.
Scroll down to item 137 in this document to see the letters from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission.
Some concerns from the public:
While the Board of Appeals can solicit input from the the typical town Boards and Commissions, those bodies will have no authority over the project and the ZBA isn’t under requirement to listen to them.
No units are guaranteed to go to Burlington residents. So, while this development ostensibly provides more housing, if Burlington residents aren’t the ones moving in, it’s not actually solving the housing shortage. Moreover, 6 affordable housing units don’t make a very big dent in affordable housing availability.
Response from the Select Board:
Select Board Member, Mike Espejo, as well as Planning Board Chair, Barbara L’Heureux, stated that the return for a re-vote, while allowed, sets a bad precedent.
Select Board Chair, Mike Runyan, who is a well-known champion of senior housing, noted that the concerns brought up by community members and town Boards can all be addressed and mitigated by the ZBA process.
Member Nick Priest noted that public participation is often skewed toward the opposition but stated he’s less in favor of this project now and before and would like to look into other options.
The public hearing is closed on this matter, and the Select Board will vote on whether or not to provide a letter of support for this “Friendly 40B” project at their next meeting on June 26.
Today in Burlington
Meetings and Events
11:00 AM - Free Blood Pressure Screening at the library
6:00 PM - MSMS 8th Grade Promotion (MSMS Gym)
6:00 PM - Shawsheen Union Contract Negotiation Subcommittee will discuss ratifying the Cafeteria Worker’s contract and provide an update on Clerical Union negotiations. (Shawsheen Tech)
6:00 PM - D&D For Beginners (library event; grades 4-8; register)
7:00 PM - School Committee will discuss a trip to Canada, continue reading through and updating their policies using the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) as a foundation, and hear updates from the BHS and Elementary School Building Committees, and more. (BHS and Virtual)
7:00 PM - Shawsheen School Committee will hear a Year in Athletics review from the Superintendent-Director, continue discussion about a programmable sign, discuss a professional development plan, and much more. (Shawsheen Tech and YouTube)
7:30 PM - Information Systems Security Advisory Committee (ISSAC) will discuss the cybersecurity training mandate that was approved by the Select Board last night as well as the status of the policy implementation. (virtual)
No sports or activities on the agenda today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more Burlington news for you. Take care, neighbors.