Vol. II No. 10 5/15/2021
Notes from the Joint Select Board Meeting Planning Board Meeting: May 4 via Zoom
- SB Patrick White and Roxanne McCaffrey
- William Vogt, Chair
- Marie Raftery
- Christine Rasmussen
- Katherine Fletcher
- Nancy Socha
- Wayne Slosek
- Jennifer Carmichael, secretary
- Michael Canales, Town Administrator
In addition: candidates Carl Sprague and Mark Mills; if others present, could not be seen
- Christine Rasmussen not present. Although others suggested they could begin the discussion and Rasmussen could join in when she arrived, Chair Vogt insisted upon waiting for Rasmussen.
- As SB members waited, the PB entertained a Special Permit for 46 Lake Drive, a nonconforming lot. The request was to build a screened porch. The removal of a deck and patio and building of porch would create "less impervious surface" than currently. The special permit was granted.
- Rasmussen arrived, Chair turned meeting over to her and she presented a power point. Chair asked attendees to hold questions/comments until the end of presentation.
- A question was asked about the number of slides (answer 24) followed by a reminder that this was scheduled as a discussion not a presentation.
- After presentation, Chair directed that SB could speak first, then PB members, then public.
- Select Board member Roxanne McCaffrey asked how much of $40,000 previously allocated was spent to date. Answer: $11,832.
- Question: can the remaining balance be carried over to next year? Answer, yes. Suggestion: amend request to appear on warrant from $40,000 to the net of $40,000 less unexpended amount at time warrant goes to press.
- Patrick White, responding to one slide in Rasmussen presentation, commented that 2- and 4-acre zoning "is not antithetical to preservation or rural character." He added that the proposed NRPZ bylaw — applying to parcels of 20-acres and more — is "breathtaking in scope". It would affect approximately 9,000 acres of the total acreage of Stockbridge. That is, in round numbers, 9,000/15,000 or 3/5 of total acreage in Stockbridge.
- White was skeptical that that was "reasonable growth" and asked Vogt to define the term. Vogt said, "I ran on that, but I am not going to discuss that here."
- PB member Kate Fletcher mentioned that the PB did not have a mandate to work on open space residential or a bylaw for the whole town. The mandate was to address the Cottage Era Bylaw.
- There was a comment that after the subcommittee working with the consultants was deemed out of compliance with the Open Meeting Law, PB appointed one person to work with consultants. Question: might that be "doubling down" rather than complying?
- Question: when did the percentages change? [The percentage of acres to be preserved as part of NRPZ changed from 80% to 50%] Was that change made in a private meeting w/consultant? There were no answers to either question.
- White said, "If you want my support, you will have to be transparent."
- More questions: SB suggested 6 bylaws without a consultant; why does PB need a consultant?
- Select board member McCaffrey asked to poll PB members — why they want the consultant. Five answers: Rafferty: "we don't have the expertise"; Socha "agree with Marie"; Pitney "disagree with most of presentation especially abandoning CCE and focusing on NRPZ. Two- and four-acre zoning did a wonderful job of protecting and maintaining the character of Stockbridge"; Slosek "although appreciate expertise, agree with Gary"; Fletcher "town has town counsel and Town Administrator who can assist in doing the job. I do not agree we need $40,000 [for consultants]."
- Fletcher continued — three-hour meetings unnecessary, the actual work of the PB is being ignored, and "our current bylaws are fine including 2-and-4-acre zoning". Repeated "do not support $40,000".
- White suggested a bylaw committee — "the broad changes being suggested need broad input and coordination. Not a PB project."
- There was a motion to continue with consultants: 5 aye and 2 (Pitney and Fletcher) nay.
- The meeting devolved when the Chair said things such as: "I don't have to answer your emails."; "No you may not speak"; "I am running this meeting". When commented that the Chair was not allowing discussion, Chair adjourned joint meeting.
Editor's note: On March 6, 2017 a joint meeting between the two boards took place (available to watch on CTSB.org). Briefly, the agenda was the same, but the process and tone were different. In 2021 the PB requested SB place $40,000 for consultants on warrant. SB asked for a joint meeting to understand the amount and purpose. In 2017, the PB wished to take on a task that might require a consultant, therefore, PB Chair Gary Pitney asked for the meeting as a "Courtesy Call" to give the SB a "heads up". In 2017 the purpose was made clear in an open discussion with questions and answers. It was an easy back and forth with ideas shared. It lasted less than 30 minutes and was congenial gavel to gavel. See the editorial - "Once there was a Stockbridge way" - in the June 1 issue of SU.
Interesting to note that in the vote for/against continuing with consultants, the two opposed have the most education (Fletcher holds a Master's Degree in planning from UMass) and the most experience (Pitney has served on PB for 15 years).
Finding that random seed from season past. Photo: Patrick White