Vol. IV No. 15 8/1/2023
Key Take Aways from the Select Board Meeting, July 27, 2023 (Second Homeowners' Meeting)
34 attended via Zoom and an estimated 25 were in the room. SB Chair Chuck Cardillo asked for each speaker to limit remarks to three minutes, to remain calm, and respectful.
The first question came from Jay (last name inaudible) at 11 Lakeview Drive. He asked why don't we have cannabis shop(s) in Stockbridge to raise the money needed to help those who need help with their taxes? (There was no visual for the first few minutes so hard to determine, but someone heard to say "instead of RTE." (Residential Tax Exemption)
Selectman Patrick White responded that Stockbridge passed a bylaw to allow cannabis shops in Stockbridge, but since it passed, no one has expressed interest in opening one here.
Bob Jones, Chair, Select Board, Lee MA, was asked about income from cannabis shops in Lee. He anticipated that the revenue would decrease as "pot" was legalized in adjacent states.
Select Board member Minacci said there was help available if any local has trouble paying taxes and no one has ever been foreclosed on in Stockbridge. White said Stockbridge residents have been foreclosed on.
Sandy Baron asked how can second homeowners be appointed to boards? White and Cardillo explained all they have to do is apply. All openings are advertised on the Town web site, in newspapers and Stockbridge Updates.
Eric Tarlow was interested in the Curtisville Bridge being repaired as were Tom Perlmutter and Lucy Malatesta (sic).
Two women wanted to give a "shout out" to the "transfer station" and how well it is run.
Several commented on the condition of the roads in Mahkeenac Heights. Are they public or private roads? Who is responsible for maintenance? Joe Newberg was certain "it was the Town's duty in all seasons."
Highway Department Superintendent Hugh Page said the paved entrance to Mahkeenac Heights is Town property and was repaired this week. Fire Chief Vini Garofoli explained that in an emergency there is a process in place that the road is immediately cleared even if private.
Another resident from Mahkeenac Heights was concerned that the water lines and utilities she thought were under the roadbed would be disturbed.
Hugh page wanted to add that anyone can attend a board, committee, or commission meeting and offer ideas and opinions even if not appointed or elected to sit on it. He hoped people would attend.
Patty Caya thanked Town for beach upgrades, but objected to the Accessory Dwelling Bylaw as it excludes second homeowners. Cardillo explained the ADU bylaw was withdrawn "off the table". White said if it is reviewed by proper committee(s), it would then go to Town Meeting and only become law if voted on by the people and approved by the Attorney General.
Caya then objected that second homeowners are not allowed to vote.
White explained that was the law — you can only vote in one place; however, it is the householder's choice. Caya, and any second homeowner, can choose Stockbridge as their primary residence and vote here. It is up to the second homeowner.
At that point the tone of the meeting changed —
Joe Newberg, a long time second homeowner, accused White of "intentionally discriminating against second homeowners". Until the close of the meeting others joined in accusing White of causing division by proposing RTE. They offered other solutions, including zoning changes, that would not raise the taxes of second homeowners as they perceive RTE would.
White said, "When it comes to zoning changes, I am an incrementalist" because all these decisions are trade-offs.
The room came together smiling with a woman (name inaudible) who expressed her pleasure in "winning" a place on the kayak rack in the Town "lottery" only to discover her assigned space was too high for her to lift her kayak onto it.
Editor's Note: 1. RTE is never "off the table". According to Massachusetts General Law (MGL), RTE must be considered as part of the tax classification hearing and voted on by the SB every year. 2. The Curtisville Bridge will not be repaired until the conditions placed by Mass Historical Commission are lifted. 3. It was suggested MA should adopt a Florida law allowing any developer willing to build low income housing to avoid some zoning laws. We do. In MA it is called Chapter 40B. "Chapter 40B helps communities meet the Commonwealth's housing needs, by providing a flexible zoning approval process that allows for the creation of new homes for individuals, families, and older adults, across a range of incomes." What is built is more often a function of the marketplace not the bylaws. 4. Tradeoffs in bylaw changes, for example, reducing the amount of acreage necessary to build (from 2 or 4 acres to 1/2 acre) would reduce costs at the same time that it would increase density. The Center for Disease Control identifies increased density as an enabler of the transmission of disease. There are obvious and less apparent tradeoffs to be carefully considered before zoning changes.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne